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Tyndale Primary School

Autism Parenting Toolkit

These are just a few ideas and suggestions that may help if you are supporting a child who is showing some signs of behaviours that are similar to that of autism (ASD).

Parenting Strategy Why? Examples

Put on your 'sensory goggles'

Are they gaining any sensory need through their behaviour? This can be seeking out or avoiding; Continually touching things, refusing to wear certain clothes or eat certain foods can
all be due to sensory difference. If a child goes into ‘sensory overload’ they may melt or shut down completely.

Having a good understanding of their needs enables you to meet that need and reduce the presenting behaviours.

If your child is doing something to meet a sensory need and it is not appropriate, you can teach them alternatives to meet that need in a more appropriate way.

Managing anxiety

Both yours and your child's.

Good tools for looking at this are: The 5-point Scale and Anxiety Curve Poster which can be widely purchased online.

Keep a routine

Pupils who show ASD / similar behaviours  like to know what is happening next and having structure to the day helps reduce anxiety.

Get them involved in
setting the routine if possible.

Keep a record of incidents and behaviours

You can start to unpick
specific triggers.

Behaviour diary.

Give one instruction at a time

To avoid over complicating.

Break instructions down into doable steps. Use few words and be very specific. Use the child’s name at the beginning so they know you are talking to them!

Allow extra processing time

Processing time may be slower and some children struggle with their working memory.

Give it time for your child to respond to an instruction before talking again.

Check for understanding

Problems with understanding language may not always be apparent. This could be taking things literally or rigid thinking. For example, some children struggle with homework – because they have difficulty transferring the task from school to home.

Avoid using idioms and
sarcasm and be patient when checking for understanding using simple language.

Use visuals

Support memory and maintaining a routine.

Such as visual timetables, routine cards, emotion cards and timers, to back up verbal instructions.

Social stories

For explaining new experiences and situations. The aim is to help understanding of social rules.

You can find lots online to download, but you can also write your own social story with the young person’s involvement.

Give clear choices

But not too many!

Do you want your blue coat or your brown one?

Talk about emotions and feelings

You can do this through talking about how you feel about things too – it is good for them to know that everyone has feelings.

You can use resources such as mood cards or Zones of Regulation to support this.

Parental self-care

Research tells us that parenting children with autism is more stressful than parenting children with other disabilities. This is because it is a ‘hidden’ disability and often parents will receive judgemental looks from others. Other reasons include; sometimes struggling to get support and advice.

It is really important that parents look after themselves. Whilst this is difficult, our own wellbeing will make a huge difference to the way we manage our children’s behaviour.

Reinforce that love doesn’t need to be earned or deserved – it’s always there!