It is important to seek professional advice about suitable treatment strategies for people with ASD. The age of the person, and the severity of their difficulties are both important factors to consider when deciding on what can help. Listed below are some strategies that can be put in place to assist parents and other carers of people with ASD.
- Provide a reasonable level of daily structure through the use of a daily or weekly diary and prepare the person for any changes to their routine. When a significant change is going to happen, spend time prior to the event talking to the child or adult about what is going to happen and ensure that they have support to manage any anxiety. This may help them cope with change more easily.
- Give a step-by-step list of instructions for completing everyday activities, such as getting ready for school or taking a shower. A wall chart with pictures illustrating each step can be a good way to present this information. This can be helpful for higher functioning children and adults.
- Develop a regular routine for the day including set times for meals, activities and sleep. Once a routine is in place, avoid changing it if possible. Children and adults with ASD can become extremely upset if their routine is changed.
- Provide instructions in simple language allowing time for the individual to absorb the information and respond. Try not to use phrases such as "pull your socks up" or "it's raining cats and dogs" because people with ASD often take things literally. If an appropriate response is not given it is helpful to check that the person has understood.
- Provide visual cues such as pictures or a story outline to support communication. For example, when giving instructions or setting up a daily diary use pictures to demonstrate tasks and to help understanding.
- Teach and practise social ‘rules' such as turn-taking and how to greet people, and provide opportunities for the individual to interact with others. Strategies such as role-plays can be a useful way of helping the person to learn new social skills.
- Seek help when family issues arise. Raising a child or supporting an adult with ASD can be difficult and stressful. Family assistance and treatment can improve outcomes for both the person with ASD and those around them.