Bringing home a new baby is exciting, but when older siblings are involved, it’s also a bit of a challenge. For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it can be even more challenging. How do you prepare your child with ASD for the presence of a new little brother or sister? Every child with ASD is different, but some principles remain the same.
- Prepare your child early. Children with ASD often struggle with change, so prepare your child as soon as possible for all of the changes a baby will bring into the household. If Mom is pregnant, talk about that, using clear language. If any major changes need to be made- switching rooms, perhaps- these should be made early on, to minimize the number of disruptions that occur all at once.
- Be as honest as you can. Introduce the concept of “baby” and let your child know that this is a new family member to love. However, don’t paint too rosy a picture. Answer your child’s questions honestly, explaining that some things will change when the baby arrives. Explain that babies can’t feed themselves, are up at night, cry, and need people to change their diapers. Especially for children with ASD who are especially sensitive to sensory stimuli, knowing what’s coming is important.
- Use pictures and stories. Draw pictures together of families with babies, show your child photos of babies, or use social stories to help your child understand what to expect. You might take the child to a playground to observe babies, or introduce him or her to a friend’s baby. You know your own child’s capabilities, and how best to help the child understand.
- Involve your older child. Giving your child a sense of ownership of the new sibling will help make the transition easier. Make sure to teach concepts like “fragile” and “gentle” so that your child is not inadvertently too rough with the new baby.
- Maintain normalcy as much as possible. Establish something special you do regularly with your older child, like a bedtime story, and continue doing this after the baby is born. Keep the daily routine as consistent as possible after the baby arrives.
- Be prepared for pushback. Understand that not every feeling your child has about the new baby will be positive. There will always be ups and downs in a family. Be patient with your child with ASD, and make sure you have a support system in place to help you manage once you bring the baby home.
If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.
STAR of CA has been providing resources and education for treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) since we first opened in May 2006. Since then, we have expanded our services to encompass a wider range of mental health issues. We work to ensure that all of the services we provide adhere to the highest possible standards. Here are some questions you might have about the services we offer.
What mental health services do you offer for children or minors? STAR of CA provides treatment for mental health issues that include anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, oppositional defiant disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. The treatments we offer include applied behavior analysis (ABA), behavioral classroom management, cognitive behavioral therapy, family focused therapy, and parent management training.
Do you offer services for adults with mental health issues? We offer treatments for adults who are dealing with issues such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder. The adult treatments we focus on include dialectic behavior therapy (DBT), cognitive behavior therapy, and prolonged exposure. We also offer psychotherapy services to individuals, couples, and families who are dealing with problems such as grief and relationship issues.
Can STAR of CA assess mental health issues? Yes, STAR of CA is qualified to provide a psychological assessment service that will allow you to ascertain what issues you are confronting and which evidence-based treatments may be most useful. Among other services, we offer functional behavioral assessments, cognitive functioning assessments, personality functioning assessments, psychodiagnostic assessments, and psychoeducational assessments.
If your family is dealing with the challenges of an ASD diagnosis, STAR of CA can help. We are here to offer comprehensive mental health services to families in the Ventura area and across California. If you would like to learn more about how our services can help your family, contact our team today by calling (805) 644-7827.
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