I like this article by Ellen Mossman-Glazer and would like to share her simple strategies. It is very important to be conscious about words you use in communicating with your child or student with autism. When we are praised there is no hardship or obstacle we feel is too difficult. The child with autism responds to words of praise and especially your tone of voice because they may not understand the words themselves. If you find yourself getting frustrated with them try stepping back and taking a break to regain your center and return when you are more together. Watch how they blossom when you practice encouragement. They have gifts and talents in many areas and you may need to start thinking out of the box to see them to acknowledge them. Many children on the spectrum love all sorts of animals like chipmunks and racoons and bugs like caterpillars so learning how to appreciate some animals you may have thought are a menace may be helpful. Bugs and beetles can fascinate them for long periods where they have a short attention with other things you may feel are more important. Try looking at the world from their perspective and you never know you may find more joy in your life….Caroline
Social Skills and Self-Esteem: Nine Strategies to Help Your Kids See Their Greatness
Some kids and adults need clear information about the strengths and talents you know they have. This is especially true for children and many adults who have Asperger Syndrome, Autism, or ADHD. They may need to get their knowledge about where they shine, in a more direct way than you have been communicating so far. This knowledge is the nourishment of a healthy self-image.
Here are ten strategies to help your challenging loved ones to believe in themselves:
1. Give them a mental picture so they can ‘see’ what you mean. Instead of “That is a great story!” try something like: “The characters in your story seem like real people.”
2. Be sincere and specific. ‘Very good!’ is very good to say but when you can, compliment the action. “You are a whiz at finishing puzzles.” “You really know how to swing a bat.”
3. Compliment ‘in the moment’. Don’t wait. Tell her now so she makes the connection between a positive behavior and the good feeling of praise.
4. Be on the watch for unrecognized strengths. You may be overlooking some subtle but nonetheless strong qualities in your child. Think creatively and you will find them! If your teen avoids friends who do drugs, alcohol or smoke, he has good judgment. If she plays chess, she has good analytic skills, if he connects easily with people he is a good conversationalist. If she is involved in sports, she is a ‘team player.’ You can use these qualities as springboards to build more.
5. Help your child keep his weaknesses and ‘failures’ in perspective. Point out real life situations to illustrate that “everyone makes mistakes” and “everyone is learning all the time”. Find stories about famous people who worked around their limitations to become famous inventors, artists and authors.
6. Teach your child how to self-advocate. Use her daily challenges to explore behavior choices she can make – positive and negative. Show her what she can do to be in charge of her life, appropriate to her age and developmental stage.
7. Be trustworthy all the time. Trust in reliable adults is key to learning to trust yourself. Promise only what you can follow through on. If you must break your word, tell your child what is going on and discuss other options to replace what you had previously committed to.
8. Keep them going, when they are discouraged, with “You can do it!” messages. You know when your child can do better and what it takes to get there. Be the wind beneath her wings.
9. ‘Shine the light’ on those talents. Plan activities and social events that give your child appropriate opportunities to share what is important to her. If your child has a special need, look for just the right place for her to be in the limelight. A child with Asperger Syndrome may need to be in the company of people who have great interest in her special area of knowledge.
As you practice these tips, enjoy watching your children’s self-pride blossom.
Ellen Mossman-Glazer M.Ed. is a Life Skills Coach and Behavioral Specialist, specializing in Asperger Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, ADHD, and learning difficulties. Over her 20 years in special education classrooms and treatment settings, Ellen has seen the struggle that children and adults have when they feel they don’t fit in. She now works in private practice with people across the USA and Canada, by phone, teleconference groups and email, helping parents, educators, caregivers and their challenging loved ones, to find their own specific steps and tools to thrive. Ellen is the author of two on line e-zines, Emotion Matters: Tools and Tips for Working with Feelings and Social Skills: The Micro Steps. Subscribe for free and see more about Ellen at http://artofbehaviorchange.com/ You can take a free mini assessment which Ellen will reply to with your first action step.
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