Our Aspergers expert, Julie, talks about Goal Setting With Kids in the new year. Applicable for any child, these tips are simple, but very practical.
Having an autism spectrum kid means planning ahead is a good thing, so why not take some time to set some goals and write them on that brand new calendar! As we begin 2014 together, here are some positive goals for you and your child to set as January melts into February, taking you all the way to December. Pick one for each month. There only ten, making this doable, allowing for a month or two “off”.
POSITIVE GOAL SETTING WITH KIDS
1. Make a snowball.
Sure, making a snowball is a “normal” winter activity for most kids in snow country, but this simple pastime can be difficult for our kids as kids on the spectrum often have trouble with gross (and/or fine) motor skills. Make it a fun afternoon and work on the concept rather than “getting it right”; teaching your child that there IS fun in the process! Not in snow country? Head to the beach for a simple sand creation, or pull out the play dough and make an indoor snowman!
2. Try a new chocolate.
Who says trying new foods has to be boring? Trader Joe’s has unique twists on chocolate treats and other sweets, and theirs do not contain GMO’s or other unnatural ingredients. Expanding your Aspie’s palette is a noble goal, and starting the process with something fun like dessert just may make her more willing to try the new veggie side dish you have on tap.
3. Give your child the gift of a chore.
No, really. As much as chores are, well…work, they can tap into his need for routine while teaching a life skill at the same time. For younger kids, folding washcloths is a great start and helps with gross motor skills. Older kids can unload the dishwasher (glassware optional – trust me.) It’s up to you whether the chore is set daily, weekly, or as needed. Added benefit? March is a great time to start this as it is right before the warm weather season and all the distractions it brings with it.
4. Go somewhere new.
Ask most Aspies and they will tell you the best places to go are the ones they already know. Trying a new place, whether it’s a store, restaurant or vacation spot is important as it will expand his horizons and help him work with the concepts of flexibility and adaptability.
5. Plan a new activity to try.
Keeping your child’s interests in mind, plan something special – and new – to do together. Does he love peanut butter and soft textures? Make a pb smoothie together. (This one is great: Organic PB Smoothie.) Does she have loads of energy? Try a new sport, like tennis or one-on-one basketball that can be done with just a few friends or family. Need ideas? Click on the tabs at We Know Stuff for more.
6. Teach a social skill.
One of the hallmarks of autism is difficulty navigating the social realm. Pick a social skill – just one – and make that the focus of the month. If you need help with ideas, talk with your social worker, therapist, or shoot me an email. Remember learning and acquiring social skills takes time.
7. Time out.
One of the latest posts, “The Importance of Alone Time” by Michele Phillips, struck home with me. My grand plans of taking Christmas break week and getting ahead fell to pieces. It’s life. It happens. Long story short, I ended up crying “Uncle!”, and took the rest of the break to ignore email, social media and pretty much anything but immediate family. Although Michele’s focus is on athletics, she makes the very important point that we all need time for ourselves. This means every member of the family needs to take some “me” time – and that’s ok! So, grab that pen (not pencil) and scratch out “Me time” on the calendar. And leave the guilt behind.
8. Have her pack lunch.
As moms, packing lunch is sacred ground for many of us. When I transferred that duty over to my daughter, it was, indeed, bittersweet. But planning, packing and remembering to put lunch with the backpack are skills that many take for granted but often need to be taught and reinforced at home. (Sit down and write the steps out and you will be surprised how many there are!) Once your child is old enough, teach her how to do it (don’t forget the ice pack!) and let her. It’s a good idea to slip some cash into her backpack, too, on the days she forgets it. That’s not a bad lesson, either. Having to eat school grub works well to remind her not to forget it!
Spectrum kids are literal thinkers, which means it can be difficult for them to think out of the box. This includes generalizing when it comes to safety, or understanding how Sensory Processing Disorder needs to be respected. For instance, why is it ok to talk to the cashier, even though she is a stranger? Why do I have to wear a coat outside when I don’t feel cold? Won’t cars stop when they see me walking across the street? Choose to focus on safety concerns specific to your child this month.
10. Engage his Special Interest.
Tired of the Avengers, ponies, Harry Potter or sports trivia? She probably isn’t! Instead of striving to open her world to something new this month, choose to engage her in her current Special Interest. Is there a movie coming out? See it together (or rent it if the theater is too overwhelming). Does she like puzzles? Buy one that features her favorites. Or simply choose to take time this month talking with her about whatever it is that lights her eyes up!
Do you have any ideas you’d like to share? Please post them below. Have a question? Just ask!
Wishing you a happy and healthy 2014!
~Julie Clark ~0