Stay objective, hone your observation skills.

Being a parent of a child with autism is challenging enough without having to worry about how things look to others on the outside. It’s tough some days not to feel that you are the bad parent some of the people around you may think you are.

It’s not fair and it’s not true.

Today, we want to give you a new tool that will help you feel more empowered as a parent, whether your child has been diagnosed with autistic symptoms or not. We are going to show you how to “observe” your child objectively, which will help you recognize what is part of your child’s real self and what is not.

Note: If you suspect your child may have symptoms related to autism or asperger’s, this new skill may be useful to help you gather the kind of data that your doctor will need to identify early signs of autism or asperger’s.

Taking time to observe will help you listen to, identify, prepare and handle

The power of observation is overlooked. It’s easy to dismiss it as time-consuming when there is already so little time. However, well-informed notes have a plethora of benefits.

  1. Records of your observations can serve as a process of active listening, even if your child is nonverbal.
  2. They help you remember to stay objective and in control, even in the heat of the moment.
  3. Notes allow for informed planning of your child’s competence levels and prepare you to objectively share information with other parties, such as doctors, therapists, and teachers.
  4. They can also help you track your child’s progress from a less biased perspective.

In today’s technological world, you may want to experiment with written, recorded, and typed notes using smart devices. Although no single technique will work for all situations, there are several general strategies worth examining:

  • Don’t attempt to preserve and entire sequence of event. If you write every detail, you may miss the big picture. Concentrate on key points.
  • Consider making lists and charts, and creating your own personal shorthand to save time. Be sure you can read them later.
  • Record dates and times for every observation. WHEN events happen is an essential part of your report to doctors, teachers, etc to help him identify early signs of autism or asperger’s.
  • Classify information by breaking it up into categories or symptoms. Examples may include: emotional responses, play, activity level, tantrums, words, stimming, etc.
  • When tracking symptoms or behavior, be sure to look at frequency, duration, and intensity
  • Be short.

Below are just a few examples of how to track various goals and symptoms. This individual opted to use written charts to quickly mark observations throughout the day, as well as track sleep patterns over the course of a week.

Taking time to observe will help you listen to, identify early signs, prepare and handle your child with autism
Taking time to observe will help you listen to, identify early signs, prepare and handle your child with autism

This is a simple and quick way to record what you see. It fits in your pocket and can go anywhere. If this works for you, make several copies of your chart to save time in the future. Personalize it for your child (whether he has diagnosed autistic symptoms or not), but make sure to track the positive along with the negative. Remember, this is only one method of tracking. You can still use the tried and true narrative technique too, by simply sectioning off a small notebook with paper clips or page markers. We’ve also found a few apps worth looking into, including dedicated autism tracking apps, like “Autism Tracker Pro”, but also general tracking apps like “Nightingale” or “Balanced.” No matter how you choose to record your observations, make it sustainable to your lifestyle.

Over time, you will get better. The more records you keep, the more you will know what is important to track.

It is important to know that your kids will notice you taking notes. Use their awareness in your favor. If the child is able to understand the concept of tracking, make your notes interactive. Use colors to show what your want to develop, versus subdue. Ask them to help keep track or give them their own chart to mark. Perhaps tracking becomes a concrete way for your child to earn a desired reward or treat.

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