Unexpected changes can be hard for a person with autism. Here are strategies to help people handle unexpected changes and participate more successfully:
Visual learning is often a strength for people with autism. Auditory information might be more challenging for them to process. Some strategies:
It might not always be clear to us, but the repetitive behaviors a person engages in are serving a purpose for them. Repeating the same words or actions might help the person to organize their thoughts or be a form of communication. Ask yourself; is the behavior harmful to the person or others? If it is, you might want to try strategies that address aggressive or self-injurious behaviors. Are they trying to tell me something? Is there something I can do to meet their need?
Transitions can be particularly challenging for people with autism. Going new places, moving between activities, meeting new people or experiencing new things might cause anxiety and stress.
It is important to be able to self-advocate or advocate across education, health care and other settings. Build the following skills:
Haircuts can sometimes be challenging for people with autism. Here is a collection of helpful tips and strategies that you can practice before, during and after haircuts.
Tips for hair stylists:
Tips for caregivers:
Sensory spaces are becoming more and more popular. From schools to movie theaters, concert venues, museums, sport complexes, community centers and religious organizations—sensory spaces can help increase engagement and enhance the experience for individuals with sensory sensitivities. They provide opportunities for sensory and emotional regulation, often by reducing the volume level and noises, dimming the lights, reducing strong smells, offering tactile experiences and the opportunity for more movement.
Sensory spaces may also try to limit the number of people in the space at one time or provide more one-to-one support as needed. It is important to consider various modes of communication and provide written and visual signage, as well as any personal accommodations needed.
Sensory items to include:
Large gross motor items to include:
Avoid items that people may be allergic to or scented materials. If there are scented items, ensure they can be contained for those that have sensitivities.
In small rooms that need to serve multiple purposes, you can set up quiet spaces with bean bag chairs, pillows, tents, blankets, tunnels, room dividers or black out curtains. This allows those individuals who need quiet and calm, to find that space to regulate. Fun and Function has examples of spaces that need to serve multiple functions.