Autistic children love the familiar. It includes predictable actions and environments, concrete rules, and comfortable settings. They also feel more at ease with people they already know and trust.
How To Prepare a Child With Autism for Company (Image Credit Pexels)
When inviting family members or friends, prepare the child in advance. https://abacentersfl.com/ (ABA Centers Florida) says you know your child’s triggers best, so plan accordingly when you have company.
Common Challenging Behaviors Include
Autistic children can display challenging behaviors when overwhelmed or confused. Common signs of distress include:
- Crying and screaming
- Hitting, biting, and kicking
- Refusing to do tasks
- Escaping the situation
- Running away or hiding
How do you prepare your child?
Discuss the Visit
Create a socially acceptable schedule ahead of time with the child to understand when people will arrive and leave. Talk about the types of activities that will take place and provide visual cues for better understanding. You can show them pictures of the people they’ll meet, explain the relations and why the visit is essential. When possible, keep visits short.
Create a Calm Environment
Choose a room with limited distractions, such as a quiet family room. Make sure the space is comfortable and tidy, with all their favorite things nearby. You can even create a special area with soundproof panels to reduce noise, bright lights, and strong odors.
Establish Routines and Rules
Set clear rules and expectations using visual aids, such as a chart with straightforward instructions. Offer praise and rewards for good behavior and consequences for inappropriate actions. Remember to plan the visit at a time or day when the child is most alert and relaxed.
Provide Sufficient Breaks
Monitor the child during the visit and give them breaks if needed. It could involve an activity such as a simple puzzle or art project, walking, or playing in a particular area the child finds calming. Giving the child your undivided attention for a few minutes will also significantly calm them down. Remember to prepare enough snacks and keep the child hydrated, as hunger overwhelms some autistic children.
What Makes an Autistic Child Irritable When You Have Guests?
As you will realize, your child is likelier to be irritable when guests or unfamiliar people are in their space. The usual triggers include noise, bright lights, and strong odors. Other causes are:
They Want Your Attention
Autistic children are susceptible to changes in their environment. They become frustrated if people get too close to them or monopolize your attention. They’ll throw tantrums to get you back. Also, sibling rivalry can make a child irritable. To prevent this, ensure everyone has an equal share of your attention.
They Don’t Know What To Expect
Autistic children have difficulty understanding the rules of social interaction. They don’t always know how to interact with guests, leading to confusion, uncertainty, and irritability.
They’re Tired or Overwhelmed
If a child is tired, overstimulated, or has sensory issues, the presence of guests becomes too much for them to handle. To prevent this, take regular breaks and provide a calming space away from the guests. Also, don’t skip nap time.
The presence of guests overwhelms autistic children, and they might resort to tantrums as a way of expressing their anxiety. Offer frequent breaks, maintain their everyday schedule and activities, and offer self-regulating tools. If you need help handling the situation, talk to a professional. Express your fears and concerns. They’ll equip you with the necessary skills to help your child cope with challenges.