Whether you are running around the city completing errands or want to plan a family outing in the city of Milwaukee, you may be thinking how can I help my child be successful in the community? It can be stressful to take a child with autism out of the home. Nevertheless, there are strategies to help you and your child have a smooth trip.
Each child with autism has their own unique needs, therefore here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind:
Preparing for the outing
- Pick a place.
In the city of Milwaukee there are several events going on throughout the year and many are affordable or offer discounted prices for families of children with special needs. Maybe it’s a sensory friendly movie, the trampoline park or just your neighborhood park.
- Inform the child what to expect.
Many children with autism are more successful with transitions when they can predict what’s to come. Now that you’ve decided on a place to go, here are some tips to guide you through the process. Try logging onto the website and printing off pictures. For example, if you are going to the trampoline park, show them the equipment and tell them that other people, including children, will be there. If you are going to the store tell them they need to stay next to the cart, keep their hands to themselves, and be aware of others.
Out in the city
- Safety first!
Places throughout the city of Milwaukee can get busy. We recognize that safety is critical, especially when out in the city. Community safety requires skills such as awareness of surroundings, crossing the street, staying within proximity of the group and asking permission. Practice these skills ahead of time, and remind them of the rules as necessary.
- Praise/reward appropriate behavior
Recognize your child’s good behavior! This could be done in several ways. Bring attention to the child’s behavior by commenting on what they’re doing. For example “great job staying next to me in the parking lot.” Try setting up an if/then situation, such as rewarding the child with a favorite item for demonstrating good behavior. Some examples are “If you hold my hand while we walk to the park then you can have 15 minutes of TV time before bed.” “If you wait by the cart when we walk through the grocery store, then you can pick out one piece of candy.” This strategy will keep the child motivated to follow directions. Other examples of goals could be accepting no to a desired item or waiting in line for play equipment at the park. The more specific you are when giving your child goals, the more they will understand and be successful. Most importantly, when your child accomplishes these goals be sure to reward them with a highly preferred item!
- Dealing with challenging behavior
A child with autism may have an alternative way of communicating. Some examples of challenging behaviors include crying instead of telling you why they are sad, screaming instead of explaining what is making them angry, or running away instead of telling you when they don’t like a situation. This can be difficult to handle while in the community. It’s helpful to develop proactive strategies (see above) for these behaviors. We know that all behavior happens for a reason, so being able to identify why a child is displaying a specific behavior will help you determine how to move forward in responding to that behavior.
Take your trip & have fun!
After going through these steps with your child, it’s now time to take your trip! You’ve picked a place, prepared the child for what they will see and do, and you are prepared to handle challenging behavior and/or praise your child for good behavior. Now it’s time to confidently make your trip out into Milwaukee one to remember!
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (847) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!