What makes family time memorable and enjoyable? If you ask around you're likely to get a range of answers. Spontaneity is key for some families; in others, such as in families where one or more family members has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a little extra planning can help the fun unfold without a hitch.
To learn more about the key components of fulfilling family time, BeWell@Stanford chatted with child psychologists and autism experts Jennifer Phillips, PhD, and Grace Gengoux, PhD, BCBA-D. Here are a few of the tips they offer in the article:
- Prepare children with ASD in advance. For children with language, let them know about any upcoming vacation or social activity, talk about what will happen and what they can expect, and even consider making a schedule that describes the events that will occur — making sure to include activities that are known to be interesting and reinforcing.
- For children with minimal language, a visual schedule in advance of a change to the routine is often helpful.
- Keeping some aspects of the child’s normal routine in place can also help reduce anxiety.
Phillips' and Gengoux's tips are meant to make outings more fun for families with ASD - but really, all families are likely to benefit from these ways to improve empathy and communication between family members. It's worth a read.