A Beginner’s Guide to Setting Parenting Goals for Children With Autism
With around 1 in 36 children acknowledged to have ASD, many parents are looking for ways to help their young ones succeed. Parents of children with ASD often have trouble getting their children to achieve goals they set. So, are there any tips and tricks to setting parenting goals that can help anyone overcome some of the hurdles this disorder brings?
Below, we run through what it means to set such goals in the context of having a child with autism. After that, you will find resources to help you work out the best way to go about this task moving forward.
Parenting Goals in the Context of Autism
When it comes to children with autism, it is very important to understand the purpose of setting goals. As a parent, having clear objectives can help you have a roadmap when it comes to your child’s development. It ensures you have a direction for the actions you take to help and can set expectations for both you and them.
As you continue to provide goals for parenting, you can start to break them down into smaller steps. This allows you to create achievable tasks both you and the child can follow.
Many children with ASD prefer transparency and consistency when it comes to the expectations you set for your child. As such, such goals can help to encourage them by giving them a clear understanding of what they need to do both now and in the future.
Also, by creating well-formed goals, you can share the child’s progress with teachers, therapists, and anyone else. Such professionals can also use these goals in their own work with your child. Over time, it will help your child move forward in their education and ensure people know what accommodations they must take with them.
Would an Autism Center Be Useful?
Many autism care centers offer tools that may not otherwise be available to families that contain children with autism. These include professional expertise, support options, and educational resources.
Many such centers also have teams of individuals who each focus on a different discipline. They can each offer different types of care, focusing on different areas of development. The services they often provide include:
- Autism therapy
- Child psychologists
- Speech therapists
- Occupational therapists
By providing autism care, they can offer a structured environment for your child as well as support for both you and them. The facility can provide positive social interaction for the child. This care also takes into account the child’s specific needs and helps them develop many other skills.
How ABA Therapy Can Help
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy in this context is a set of steps that aims to understand and change a child’s behavior. Through engaging in behavior analysis, a therapist can work with parents to find the best ways to reinforce positive behaviors in a child.
This form of therapy works to promote useful interactions the child might have. At the same time, by creating SMART goals it tries to reduce problematic actions and develop a child’s functional skills.
Areas of focus in ABA therapy may include:
- Social interaction
- Communications skills
- Daily habits
- Formal education
These areas each have their own needs. As such, it therapist and parent can work together to create a set of SMART goals. Each element of these goals allows a child to have a good possibility of succeeding and growing.
Practical Tips for SMART Goals
SMART goals are a way for both the child and the parent to see real growth. The acronym details the tenets behind each goal:
Specific. This means the goal is clear and well-defined. This helps everyone understand it so nobody can suggest they did not know what to do.
Measurable. Try to find a way to set a specific number of things to do. This might mean something like “Brush your teeth for 3 minutes”, or “Complete one chapter of reading”.
Achievable. The goal needs to be realistic. It needs to be celebrated at the end should the child achieve it, to encourage them to succeed once more in the future.
Relevant. It should reflect the child’s current goals in terms of learning and development. In some specific situations, it could involve trying to get a specific task done that someone has broken down into smaller steps.
Time-bound. There needs to be a timeline for the goal to finish. After this time period, you must evaluate its effectiveness and work out if the target needs to change.
Recognizing and Celebrating Milestones
After a child has achieved a goal, no matter how small, it is important to celebrate this success. They need to understand that performing such actions is something that they should aim for and that you will encourage. When it comes to small steps, this can be simple verbal praise, but as the child hits larger targets you can think about more significant rewards.
Consider things the child enjoys doing, and find ways to allow them these rewards when they do well. This sense of transparency helps a child to aim toward finishing everything they need to do. With enough work, they can gain a strong sense of independence and the ability to set their own goals, helping them later in life.
Over time, this can build a child’s self-esteem and encourage them to succeed on their own accord, instead of needing your encouragement. At the end of a significant milestone, you can even retrospect on it with the child and find ways to improve moving forward. They will have a good sense of their capabilities and you can help them see how increasing goals can help with their progress.
Help With Parenting Goals Moving Forward
Setting parenting goals is hard at the best of times, without your child needing extra help. Luckily, we can offer therapy and other services to bring you to overcome many of the issues you might have with a child with ASD.
Our specialists are ready to assist you with any concerns you have and talk through what we can offer you. So, get in touch today and let us know what you need.