5 Tips for Dining Out with Your Child With Autism

5 Tips for Dining Out with Your Child With AutismGoing out to eat can be a fun pastime for many families,  but can be a bit difficult for families of individuals with autism. The following tips can help you and your family prevent behavior problems and have a successful and enjoyable experience for everyone!

Be Prepared.

Be sure to have activities for your child to enjoy while waiting for your food. Table activities such as coloring, drawing, reading, or tablet time will help. You might try calling ahead and requesting a specific reservation time to avoid long waits.

Set Expectations.

Before heading out to eat, set aside a quiet moment with your child to tell them the rules. For example, say, “Sit in your seat and speak with a quiet voice.”

Reward Good Behavior.

Reward your child throughout the meal for following the dining rules. Consider using more tangible items like favorite toys, dessert, etc. 

Choose a Familiar Restaurant. 

This allows for familiarity with the food and the environment which can decrease outbursts.

Leave On Time.

If you see your child is getting a bit fidgety and overwhelmed it’s okay to order the food to go and finish eating at home. It’s better to leave than to wait and trying to control any tantrums.

If your child still presents challenging behavior while dining out, we are here to help with additional tips and strategies specific to your child.  We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at info@totalspectrumcare.com. We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois.

5 Effective Strategies for Calming Tantrums and Meltdowns

5 Effective Strategies for Calming Tantrums and MeltdownsAlmost every parent of a child has encountered a child’s meltdowns and/or tantrums. But dealing with an autistic child can be slightly different. So we’re going to give you some strategies for calming tantrums and meltdowns that actually work.

First, it’s important to differentiate between tantrums and meltdowns because for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, they are not the same thing. A tantrum is a cluster of undesirable behaviors that are related to the child wanting something that he or she can’t have. Meltdowns for the autistic child are undesirable behaviors that are the result of sensory overload. So, in order to deal with tantrums and meltdowns, you have to identify what you’re dealing with.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Remain calm. No matter what situation presents itself, remain calm. Always remember who is the parent and who is the child. If you get very nervous and agitated, that will make the tantrum or meltdown worse.
  2. Tantrums in a public place may require leaving. However, if they’re at home, the best thing to do is say that you A) recognize the child is upset and B) and are happy to discuss it when they calm down without giving in to what the child wants if they want is not reasonable. If you give in then you are reinforcing tantrums and the child learns that if I do this ugly behavior, I get what I want. Instead, reward positive behavior when the child calms.
  3. Address sensory meltdowns immediately. If you know the basis for the meltdown and can remove what’s causing the sensory overload, then do that. Sometimes a weighted blanket can help. For some children, noise-canceling headphones are the answer. If the child is overwhelmed by crowded areas, you may need to leave to find someplace quieter.
  4. Emergency Meltdown Kit. Some parents carry a “kit” for dealing with sensory meltdowns away from home. These can include, for example, a weighted blanket, headphones mentioned above, a favorite toy, sunglasses, and perhaps a weighted coat or snug sweatshirt. You may even want to get an armband or something that says “my child is autistic—please step back.” The kit will be different for each child based on his or her individual needs.
  5. Safe Corner. At home, you may want to designate a small area as a “safe corner” for calming down. This could be, for example, just a corner of the couch or it could be tent permanently set up in the child’s room, which is filled with soft heavy blankets. It’s not a bad idea to have a designated spot that the child can go to for an opportunity to calm him- or herself down.

One of the problems with tantrums and meltdowns is that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) aren’t always the best at communicating what the problem is. So, it may not be immediately obvious to the parent. The good news is that the responses for a sensory meltdown can also calm a tantrum. If your child is going through therapy with us, talk to us about your child’s tantrums and meltdowns, and we can help to design problem-solving measures specific to your child.

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Applied Behavior Analysis helps to extinguish undesirable behaviors and reinforce desirable ones. ABA can improve your child’s toileting behaviors, eating behaviors, speech, and sleeping routines. ABA can be life changing for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you are trying to decide how to handle a child with ASD or what type of therapy is most appropriate for your child, please contact us today.

Let us help you. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at info@totalspectrumcare.com. We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Sensory-Friendly Clothes for the Autistic Child

Clothing for the autistic child can cover a wide range of needs. What is important or helpful with one child may be totally different than what is needed by another child.

Fortunately, today, there are many brands of clothing specifically designed for the autistic child. Some of these companies were started by parents of autistic children in order to make available what was previously lacking—and needed—on the market. Here is a list of some of the common issues that appropriate clothing addresses.

  1. Sensory-friendly (soft). Some children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) find clothing that is scratchy or stiff to be intolerable. So, the first category would be soft fabrics such as fleece or prewashed denim or other very soft natural or artificial fibers. Soft clothing may also have fewer seams and no rough-edged labels inside.
  2. Sensory-friendly (variety). Other autistic children may benefit from some tactile stimulation. To this end, there are clothing designs that might have, for example, pockets or flaps with different textures that the child can touch and retouch all day long.
  3. Sensory-friendly (pressure). Many autistic children benefit from having clothing that is more fitted and puts pressure on them. There are coats and vests and scarves, for example, that are weighted so as to add a constant pressure on the skin. For some children, this pressure reduces fear and anxiety.
  4. Ease of wear. A number of autistic children have a hard time with fine motor skills, which extends to difficulty managing buttons or zippered pants, for example. If this is a problem, then there are clothes that are designed to be easier to get on and off. Ease-of-wear clothing can make the difference between a child being able to dress him or herself—or not. 

You may not realize how much the child’s clothing affects his or her day-to-day behavior, but it’s worth exploring. The child who isn’t very communicative may not be able to articulate exactly why he doesn’t like his sweatshirt. But once you hit on the clothing solution that best suits your child—like very snug-fitting tops—the positive change in your child’s behavior may surprise you.

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Applied Behavior Analysis helps to extinguish undesirable behaviors and reinforce desirable ones. ABA can improve your child’s toileting behaviors, eating behaviors, speech, and sleeping routines. ABA can be life changing for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you are trying to decide how to handle a child with ASD or what type of therapy is most appropriate for your child, please contact us today.

Let us help you. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at info@totalspectrumcare.com. We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois.