Supporting parents who have children with autism
The awareness around Autism is constantly growing and with this more practitioners are gaining an understanding how to best support a child and their family. Often children with autism attend mainstream early years settings, and may not be diagnosed until after the child has started the setting. This is leading to practitioners attending more training sessions and working closely with SENDCO’s and multi agency teams. All of this is useful in supporting the child however it is crucial that this knowledge is also shared with the parents to help them understand how best to support their child.
How to support parents
Communication with children who have autism can be a large stepping stone so it important to support parents in promoting language and communication skills. Parents need to be encouraged to pick up on signs that their child is trying to communicate such as through noises or sharing of toys, it is important that these small forms of communication are given a response. These can easily be missed or dismissed as nothing important however these are significant moments to be built on. Also any words that are used should be repeated and extended, these are techniques which can be used with any child learning to communicate not just children with autism.
Recent studies have highlighted the effectiveness of working closely with parents teaching them the above techniques. This has been done through communication specialists however practitioners who are confident and have attended or completed any form of autism training can pass these simple techniques on to parents.
It is incredibly important that close partnerships are formed with all parents, especially those who need extra support. Be open and sensitive with parents and work closely together to achieve the best outcomes for the child. Having an understanding of autism can greatly help a child feel understood and able to progress through milestones. Unfortunately practitioners often feel enough training and support is not given to themselves which can make it difficult for everyone including the child, parents and practitioners. This is something which needs to be addressed as having knowledge of how to support every child and meet all individual needs is crucial for a child’s development and success.