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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) - Supporting at home

Simple information about how to help at home.

There are many sources of information available, these can be accessed via the useful contacts page of this website. The majority of useful links on this page are taken from reputable sources, mainly the Autism Wales website National Autism website and an NHS guide to ASD.

Autism-English-download.pdf (autismwales.org)

Parents & carers - Awtistiaeth Cymru | Autism Wales | National Autism Team

 

Celebrating difference

Autism is a wide-ranging neuro-diverse condition that affects children and young people in different ways. Every child is different and has their own unique personality. Children with ASD will have a lot of strengths as well as needs, it is important to celebrate them.

What is autism? - Awtistiaeth Cymru | Autism Wales | National Autism Team

Advice-sheet-Some-Common-Signs-of-Autism-Spectrum-Disorder-in-Children1.pdf (autismwales.org)

 

Working with schools

As parents you hold important information about your child and have unique strengths, knowledge and experience to help your local childcare setting or school understand your child's needs. 

It is important to work in partnership with childcare setting and school to share the positive aspects of your child's social, communication and sensory needs as well as any concerns.

See our schools section to see what support is available.

 

Use a support network

If possible, widen your support network by speaking to other parents and carers in your area. This can help you to understand how to support at home and share the journey along the way.

See the support in the community section of this website.

 

Routine and schedules

These can be helpful in creating predictability to everyday activities. When children and young people know what it is they have to do they are more likely to engage.

Understanding of everyday routines is developed through experience, getting ready to go to school for example. Some children might benefit from support with routines at home by using real objects or pictures to help children and young people understand.

Photographs and other visual support can help prepare for changes, moving to a new class in school for instance. 

There are lots of free visual supports available on the internet or speak to your childcare setting/school about the type of support they use.

Using Picture Planners - Awtistiaeth Cymru | Autism Wales | National Autism Team

Morning Routine - Awtistiaeth Cymru | Autism Wales | National Autism Team

 

Supporting communication

Children and young people with autism can experience communication difficulties especially when they are young but this can continue into adult life. This could be difficulties using speech and language skills but also in understanding how to communicate with other in the world around them - social communication skills. This can result in frustration. Get to know how best to communicate based on the child or young person's needs.

You can do this by:

  • Calling their name to get their attention before giving instructions.
  • Using simple language - single words or short sentences.
  • Giving time for children to process and understand, 5/10 seconds.
  • Supporting your spoken language with gestures, real objects, pictures, photographs. For example showing them their shoes and a picture of the park when you want to go out to the park.
  • Giving them the opportunity to show you or take you to what they want - leading you by the hand to the fridge for example.

How to help your autistic child with day-to-day life - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Communication (autism.org.uk)

 

Supporting sensory needs

A lot of children and young people with autism have sensory needs. The World around them can be a noisy, bright, distracting place. Many children also struggle to interact and be near or touch others. Some children are sensitive to smells, textures and tastes. Everyone is different.

Think about the environment around you. What is it that is overstimulating for the child or young person? For example, it could be the sun coming through blinds in a window or the noise of a hand dryer. In these instances moving out of the sunlight, wearing sunglasses or wearing ear defenders may help. You will get to know your child's needs over time.

Some children need to have calming time using quiet spaces, music and favourite toys. At other times children may need to run around, bounce or move in a way that helps them to feel calmer (regulated).

advice-sheet-understanding-the-cause-of-challenging-behaviour-child.pdf (autismwales.org)

 

Managing anxiety

Many children often have high levels of anxiety arising from their confusion at not knowing what is expected of them in different situations or from changes in routines. Anxiety may show itself in the following ways:

  • Using a loud voice/screaming
  • Repeating words or phrases
  • Asking repetitive questions
  • Repetitive movements/pacing up and down
  • Laughing inappropriately
  • Destroying items/damaging things around the

You can support children and young people by:

  • Creating routines to reduce anxiety - use a daily timetable of photographs, pictures, symbols or words which could be stuck on the side of the fridge in the house for example
  • Provide a choice of activities within the visual timetable that you can complete during the day. For example shall we go to the park and feed the ducks or go and see Nanny today?
  • Avoid sudden changes - provide clear warnings of when one activity is to end and another is to begin. This can be difficult as things can change. Be prepared and book in advance for visits out to avoid disappointment and meltdowns.
  • Use the visual timetable to prepare for changes. If a child or young person understands a visual timetable use a Whoops!! Card to indicate that something unexpected has happened.
  • Try to reduce anything which might contribute towards sensory overload, e.g. noise, movement, lights, colours, smells. This is not easy in a busy world.
  • Some children find a direct approach threatening so stand beside your child rather than in front of his/her face when you talk to him/her.

Anxiety around leaving parents - Awtistiaeth Cymru | Autism Wales | National Autism Team

 

Anger

Children with social, communication difficulties/ASD sometimes respond angrily to something which to you, may seem small.  This can be problematic as;

  • Your child could get angry by situations or events which others don't see as particularly frustrating or "anger-making" and so you may not anticipate this.
  • Your child may not be aware of the build-up of tension within themselves until it is too late
  • Your child/young person may not have the skills necessary to self-regulate themselves and respond appropriately
  • Your child may not be able to "Understand" their response in relation to the strength and nature of the event/situation

You can support children and young people by:

  • Thinking about things that can cause stress and anger in your child and consider making some changes in the environment in order to try to reduce them
  • Help your child to recognise any 'trigger' points (things that upset them) and help plan a more appropriate response. ABC charts are good for this. Speak to your childcare provider or school setting
  • Note when the anger occurs and look for warning signs
  • Avoid situations that are likely to produce anger (if possible)
  • Avoid confrontation and keep your voice calm
  • Try distracting your child to an activity he/she usually finds enjoyable
  • Always try to make it clear what you want them to do, rather than just what you don't want him/her to do
  • Use emotions cards/fans to help your child understand how they are feeling
  • With children who understand language use an Incredible Five Point Scale or Zones of Regulation to help them monitor how they feel and what they can do to help themselves
  • You could use an agreed signal (e.g. special word, gesture or picture), to direct your child to use alternative coping strategy, e.g. going to a certain place, getting a drink of water etc
  • Try to find out how your child thinks and feels about a situation so that you can talk about it
  • Help your child to understand that having misunderstood something could have led to the feeling of anger.  Take time to explain alternative ways of thinking about what happened

Identifying Triggers of Challenging Behaviour from an ABC Chart - Awtistiaeth Cymru | Autism Wales | National Autism Team

Using Reward Programmes with Children with Autism - Awtistiaeth Cymru | Autism Wales | National Autism Team

How to help with your autistic child's behaviour - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

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Eating and drinking

Some children have sensitivities to certain foods, textures and tastes. For example they may:

  • Eat a limited diet because of the colour or texture.
  • Pick at food or eat too much at once.
  • Eat things which are not food such as sand and paint from walls (pica).
  • Have problems with chewing and swallowing.
  • Have problems with constipation which affect their appetite.

Speak to your GP if you are worried about your child's eating and drinking.

Eating - a guide for all audiences (autism.org.uk)

 

Supporting toileting

This can be a difficult and stressful time, some children find it difficult to become toilet trained because of their:

  • Developmental delays
  • Difficulty with communication
  • Sensory needs
  • Difficulty understanding routines

There are many websites that support with toileting but some things to consider are:

  • Is your child ready to become toilet trained? Are they showing signs of being ready?
  • How much help do they need with dressing and undressing?
  • How do they cope being in toilet? At home? In public?

Speak to your GP if you are worried about your child or young person's toileting habits.

Toileting with Autistic Children - Awtistiaeth Cymru | Autism Wales | National Autism Team

 

Problems sleeping

Some autistic children find it hard to go to sleep or can wake in the night.

This may be because of a range of things including:

  • Being overly anxious.
  • Being sensitive to light.
  • Being hyperactive.
  • Health needs that affect sleep.

You can help your child by:

  • Keeping a sleep diary / making a note of patterns
  • Having a familiar routine - pyjamas -clean teeth -story -bed!
  • Avoiding screen time 1-2 hrs before bedtime.
  • Going to bed at the same time every night.
  • Ensuring the bedroom is relatively dark (depending on the child or young person) and quiet and comfortable temperature - not too hot not too cold.
  • Reducing noise.
  • Having comforting, familiar toys

Speak to your GP if you are worried about your child's sleeping patterns.

Sleep Difficulties in Children with Autism - Awtistiaeth Cymru | Autism Wales | National Autism Team

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