Teaching Your Autistic Child To Ride a Bike

Many autistic children have a problem with spatial reference and balancing themselves. This is one of the reasons it is so difficult for an autistic kid to learn how to ride a bike. However, if you take the right steps in the right order, your child can learn to be a really good cyclist!

1. Teach the child balance first

With non-autistic children, we first give them a bicycle with training wheels and then remove the training wheels once they are able to ride their cycle. Effectively, what we’re doing is teaching them to pedal first and balance themselves later. This equation needs to be turned around with autistic kids. Their biggest hurdle is balance so you must focus on that.

Get your child a balance bike. These bikes have no pedals so your child puts her feet on the ground and walks with the bike in between her legs. This teaches her how to balance herself while sitting on a bike and also makes her comfortable with this contraption with two wheels.

2. Then teach her to pedal

Once your child is completely comfortable with a balance bike, move her to a pedal bike. This could take years so take your time. You can have the training wheels, but not for too long because you don’t want her to get used to being auto-balanced. She has to apply what she learned with her balance bike.

3. Slowly graduate to a proper bike

Once you are totally sure that your child is ready to learn (and fall) a regular bike, go ahead and buy one. Make sure that your child chooses the bike herself so she is completely comfortable with it. Tell her to sit on it and balance it without the pedals before she makes a choice.

4. Let her choose her gear

Along with the bike, ask your kid to choose her own gear – helmet, kneepads – whatever it takes to make her comfortable on her bike. This is important for her to start using her new bike without too much fear.

5. Choose the right location

Choose an area that doesn’t have too many distractions. Also, try to find a place where the ground is firm, yet not too rough or hard so that your child can fall without getting hurt.

6. Give her time to learn

Your child will take time to learn. Be patient and as encouraging as you can.

7. Encourage, but don’t push

You may try everything by the book, but your child may not be able to learn how to cycle. If your child stops wanting to try, don’t push her. You may want to encourage her from time to time, but leave it at that. Biking is a supposed to be a fun activity so if it’s not for your child, it’s best she does something that she likes in her free time.

So go ahead and do the best you can for your child. Whether she learns to bike or not, make this a way to share some great moments with her!

How To Celebrate New Year With Your Autistic Child

As a parent of an autistic child, you know how difficult it can be to go out for a party. Leaving your child in someone else’s care is difficult and maybe even dangerous. The nanny or babysitter needs to be well versed in taking care of an autistic child. In fact, they need to be well known to your child so that she is comfortable in their hands. That’s why it is better to celebrate New Year at home, with family and loved ones.

Don’t call too many people

Invite those who are comfortable around your child and vice versa. Close friends and family who frequent the house or spend time with your child are ideal. If you are inviting children, make sure that your child gets along with them. You may even invite families of children with autism so that everybody has a place to celebrate!

Communicate important do’s and don’ts

Like what not to bring to the party, certain colors that people should not be wearing, etc. You could do this without offending people by having a theme or a dress code.

Play the right music

This could fit in to the theme of your party if planned right. Play the kind of music that your child will be comfortable with. Make sure that the volume is not tampered with too much.

Stick with familiar activities

Play games and activities that your child is familiar with. If you have invited other autistic children, take out time to find out what kind of activities they like to indulge in.

Choose the right food

Again, if you have other autistic children over, make sure you’ve arranged for food based on their preference as well. A good way of ensuring this is to have a potluck where each family gets something that they know their kids will eat. Make sure you label the food on the table when its served so people know what they’re picking up without having to bother you.

Prepare your child’s mind for the party

Finally, prepare your child for the party. Get her excited and let her look forward to it. Autistic children usually like structure, so explain the entire plan of the party. You may even want to create a time table of activities and events and share it with all families with autistic children.

It’s not too late if you don’t have anything planned yet. Go ahead and enjoy this new year with your autistic child!

Easing Your Child Into The Overwhelming Holiday Season

The holiday season can be a great time to introduce new feelings to your child, but be careful as it can be overwhelming for your child to take in all the new sights, sounds and people. There are many ways to help your child cope with the excitement of the holiday season and also get accustomed to the abundance of newer food palates.

Start Slow

Start gradually easing your child into behavioral stimuli much before the holiday season begins. You can consult the therapist about showing your child how to communicate what he wants. Often, irritation or tantrums occur when the child does not know how to communicate what they want. However, be careful to teach them that they wont always get what they want gently but firmly.

Show them how to cope with disappointment positively and patiently. Teaching your child about meal time behaviour can be taxing but it is worth it. This way your family can dine together more often.

Visual representations of Christmas time and stories can help you child get a better perspective of what the season encapsulates. It can provide comfort for him to see pictures or videos of families dining together and may be more relaxed when they day does come.

For the Day

• Make sure your child dresses comfortably. It is not the best time to whip out a new costume with a material or colour your child isn’t already accustomed to. It can add pressure on an already foreign situation.

• Speak to your guests about maintaining pleasant decibels while conversing. Holidays and get –togethers can be loud affairs and that may be unpleasant or daunting to your child. Keep a set of noise reduction headphones in case you sense any discomfort in your child.

• Make sure there is a quiet room to retreat to where your child can relax with some of his favourite toys or books.

• Make sure you encourage him on all good behaviour and provide positive feedback. You know the best what sort of motivation your child responds to so a warm hug or a word of praise will ease him into certain environments.

• Keep strong aromas like scented candles at bay. Your food will already provide newer sensory overload for your child and it is safer to keep any additional sensory input at bay. I hope these tips are helpful in helping you and your family have a lovely time during the holidays!

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