It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between the times when a child with autism is struggling with their social skills and when they just want to play solo. But carving out space in your schedule for quality time is absolutely vital for children with autism because it helps them develop all kinds of skills and you learn more about what makes your child unique!
You Learn More About Their Needs and Preferences
No two children with autism are the same. Just because you know the preferences of one, that doesn’t mean they’ll always translate across the spectrum. When you spend quality time with your child, though, you learn more about what they need to function in all kinds of situations, whether it’s safe at home, or somewhere that’s scary, even for children who are neurotypical, like the dentist.
Every parent has to learn their child’s eccentricities, but that can be extra difficult when you have a child who has a harder time communicating. Quality time will help you figure it out, whether they can tell you about them or not.
You Understand More of Their Triggers
Children are exploring the world for the first time, and they don’t always know how they’ll react to certain stimuli. That can be a problem for children with autism since sensory processing can be so different for them, and the line between stimulation and sensory overload is in a totally different place.
With increased quality time, you can better observe your child and see the patterns in how they react to things. That makes it easier to know what triggers your child so you can avoid it and help them continue to feel comfortable and safe.
Activities Help Improve Cognitive and Fine Motor Skills
Therapists who specialize in working with children, especially children with special needs, structure their sessions around games and activities. That’s because those are things that the kids will want to do, but they are also a way to observe the development of all kinds of skills.
There’s no reason why you can’t copy that at home! Arts and crafts activities, puzzles, and games can provide scaffolding for improving your child’s fine motor and problem-solving skills, all under the guise of just having fun with you. But children won’t be able to improve on them without you there spending quality time with them and making each task just a little bit more challenging than the previous one.
Bonding Time Increases Social Skills
When a child has autism, social skills tend to be a little bit harder to pick up and develop. But they’ll definitely never get them if all of their time is spent in solo play or on screens. Quality time, whether it’s with you, a therapist, or anything else, can help them learn how to function around others.
To be clear, while time with you is important, quality time with other safe figures is also incredibly helpful, as is bonding with animals. Animal therapy is a new and exciting field that is helping children with autism engage more with other beings, pick up on cues, and operate cognitively in a way they might not have with humans.
You Can Affirm Their Interests and Development
Quality time is typically seen as being one-on-one, in-person time without screens involved. But there are apps and programs out there that can help you and your child safely learn, explore, and share that happen to live on a computer or phone.
Ultimately, all parents have limitations. If you work as a banker in a big city, you might not be able to teach your child much about marine biology no matter how much they fixate on it. But if that’s what interests them, finding an online program that you can learn from together and affirming what excites them about the world, even if it’s on a screen, still counts as quality time.
You Discover Ways to Communicate That Aren’t Verbal
It can seem like a big, scary, word-obsessed world out there to a child with autism. Even if they’re not non-verbal, it can still be difficult to communicate. But when you show them ways to express themselves through art, music, or anything else, they’ll find a way to make their inner selves seen, and it’ll create a vital channel for expression they might not otherwise have.
Take a class in jewelry making, pottery, piano, or anything else. If something sticks for your child, that’s going to be a means of self-expression that they’ll value for the rest of their life.