Because of distance or schedules or other issues, extended family may not be able to visit often. With careful planning, we can help grandparents and other relatives stay connected with our youngsters with autism.
LONG DISTANCE CONNECTIONS. It is becoming easier and easier to stay connected across the miles. Your youngster with autism can send photos and messages and even videos via e-mail or Facebook or Twitter to grandparents and other family members. Check with a teenager or a college student if you want help setting up any of these connections. They can help set up connections that allow for private exchange of information and encourage ongoing interaction quickly and inexpensively.
And don’t forget “old-fashioned” snail mail. There’s nothing more thrilling than receiving mail once a week or so. And sitting down for a weekly letter-writing session allows your youngster to enjoy practicing typing or writing if they are able. If not, encourage drawing, coloring, or even scribbling a bit. Also encourage frequent photo exchange so the youngster can develop a connection with a real person.
FACE-TO-FACE VISITS. Prepare your youngster for family visits well in advance. Look at a calendar several weeks in advance, and share photos of the visiting family members. Talk about the visitors, about the schedule, and little details like meals and activities.
One key to successful grandparent visits is to schedule time every day for some one-to-one interaction. Grandparents can read a child’s favorite book, take a walk around the block, or just sit on the porch swing together. Pick a time that works well for your youngster. If she is relatively focused after supper, then pick that time for reading. If she is very active in the middle of the morning, that would be a good time for swinging or collecting fall leaves.
TIP FOR THE DAY: It certainly takes some time and effort, but maintaining a regular personal connection is one of the most valuable gifts you can give your youngster.
NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At FAQautism.com we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me a confidential email at talk@FAQautism.com with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism. http://FAQautism.com