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Teach Your Child To Manage Change


Updated May 13, 2010

Mike Advises Helping Your Child To Tolerate Change

One more thing to consider might be that change brings about fear and anxiety in your grandson. One option would be to try and teach him that change is not to be feared, and that it can actually be a good thing. Many people really recommend “structure” for kids with autism and I won’t say that is wrong but I would add that since the world is really not structured it doesn’t really prepare an autistic kid for life to try and always bring structure. Just as behaviorists use desensitisation programs, you can also use the same concepts to “desensitize” autistic kids to change. Use behavioral principles to gradually increase the child's tolerance for change, avoiding the meltdown, and having successfully avoided the meltdown the child can be taught “change is OK” (and eventually “change is fun and interesting, not scary”).

Sandy Suggests RDI (Relationship Development Intervention

We do RDI, and I credit this with helping my son be more flexible and transition better to change. The hope for me was to help my child learn to be less rigid and have a better understanding around him. RDI and flexibility never happens over night. It starts with a simple change out of routine within the home, like purposely and with eyes watching, move a Thomas train. I popped balloons on purpose, out of the blue. I hopped like a bunny outside, pretended to look for frogs in a silly sort of way. I am the silliest acting mom on our block. I forced myself into his little bubble/ world and it was not easy, I got smacked all the time but the end result for us is very noticeable. If one does not provide the situations a child will endure, the child will never learn to endure them.

Nancy Suggests Avoiding "Good-Byes" and Trying "First/Then Techniques

My son (who sounds just like this child) still has trouble with transitions. Social stories don’t work that well for him. In my experience it’s best just not to make a big leave-taking production but almost simply slip away while the child is occupied with something else. Seems heart-rending, but actually it is heart-mending. A formal goodbye is not something the child can truly understand so why put him through it? Out of sight out of mind, with my son anyway. Watching a person leave is what feels bad to him.

And, you’ve probably tried First-Then? This does sometimes work with my son when a ritual good-bye can’t be avoided and nothing else will work. Might have your daughter try saying very loudly and clearly “FIRST Grandma is going to get in her car and drive away. THEN Johnny and Mama are going to eat pizza!” (or whatever) With an uprising happy inflection to the Then part. Repeat firmly and loudly as needed. Then have her go take some Advil if it doesn’t work! ;->

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