Some children with autism struggle to occupt themselves during downtime, when they do not have one to one attention. Some of the families we work with report that this can be the most difficult time for them; how can they see to the needs of siblings, get house work done, prepare meals etc. The longer term goal needs to be to teach the child to occupy themselves with a variety of activities and also to participate in the household chores. These are targets that need to be worked on within the program and generalised to home life. There are a variety of different programs for teaching independent play, ensure you use a program that is suitable. Here are a few of the other strategies that we have found succesful:
- Ensure you have some activities that the child only gets access to at times when you need to be busy, these can be sensory toys, media etc. Keep these toys restricted to only be used during these times.
- Set yourself a timer and go to see the child regularly, the MotivAider can work well for this and it’s available as an app. You want to provide attention and tangible reinforcement if needed. You want to catch your child being good!
- Active Support is great for getting the person involved in activities of daily living.
- The Choiceworks app is a great app to use for activity schedules and is easy to operate.