We think of New Year’s Resolutions as being solo endeavours. I am going to go to the gym more, you’re going to eat more kale, she’s going vegan, he’s going keto. This approach might not work for your autistic child. As much as it is important to cultivate in them a sense of confidence and independence, any parent of an autistic child will tell you that expecting them to sit down, curate a list of self-improvement goals and carry them out with constant motivation and self-feedback is wishful thinking.
This doesn’t mean, however, that New Year’s Resolutions are restricted solely to neurotypical people. You may just have to tweak it a little bit to make the process a little less daunting and a little more rewarding. Rather than listing all the things your autistic child is going to do, outline all the things you can do together to make their lives more peaceful and pleasurable. Of course, this is easier said than done, but fortunately Kanjo is on hand to make sure your autistic child reaps the rewards of setting New Year’s Resolutions.
1. Build positive momentum
Let’s say that your autistic child has struggled in the past with social interactions. In the past 12 months, however, they have shown a marked improvement in social situations and have developed strong relationships with their classmates. Tell them how proud you are of their achievements and focus on building from this strong platform. Perhaps it is time to start setting up play dates, or get them trying a sport they might like watching. Refrain from looking back at their previous struggles and keep motivation and optimism high!
2. Provide structure as much as possible
This tip is applicable to all of us, as we struggle with over-packed schedules and mind-warpingly distracting TikToks. However, for children with neurodevelopmental issues, including ADHD and ASD, their difficulty creating and sticking to schedules underscores many of their general struggles. So, make sure you help them, monitor them and reward them for sticking to their resolutions. One good way to do this is ensuring that they can visualise their new habits, either with pictures or words. Stick these reminders all around the house so they don’t forget.
3. Don’t overcomplicate it
If you take only one thing from this article, make sure it is the words path of least resistance. PLR. Repeat it after me. If you want your autistic child to start eating better, don’t put the cookie jar on a shelf that they can reach. And start with tastier vegetables – think peas, not cabbage. Maybe that’s just my personal taste.
If increasing social interactions is a goal, you should do much of the heavy lifting. Set up playdates, take them to clubs based on their interests, and discuss ideas with their teacher. Whatever you do to help your autistic child achieve their resolutions, make it as easy as possible for them. Repeat after me – PLR.