A new year is almost here—which also means New Year’s resolutions. The New Year brings a sense of renewal and a time many people set new goals for personal growth, even if many leave the promises behind after a small amount of time.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Instead of setting unrealistic goals, children with autism spectrum disorder can develop realistic and positive ones. Setting goals is a part of any good treatment program based on ABA or Applied Behavior Analysis. At the start of the program, the therapist sets goals on what to teach, be it social skills or academic skills.
Many of us like to set goals for the next year as it’s a good time to reflect on the current year and then determine what we can accomplish in the next one. So, if you want to set goals for your autistic child this year, then you’ve come to the right place.
How to Enjoy an Autism-Friendly New Year’s
Before setting goals, let’s talk about how your child can enjoy a New Year’s Eve without being overwhelmed. New Year’s is a time to celebrate, have fun, and start over. But for an autistic child, it means staying up late, disrupting their routine, trying to mingle through the crowd, or watching loud fireworks.
All of these factors can be overwhelming for a sensory-sensitive child. That’s why most families stay inside. However, it doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Here are some suggestions on how to make New Year’s more enjoyable:
- Watch videos of fireworks: Children with autism spectrum disorder can like fireworks, but most of them do not know what to expect when they hear explosions outside. It’s important to talk to your kid ahead of time and let them know what to expect. You can also watch a recording of the fireworks where you have control over the volume.
- Celebrate early: With a child with autism, you don’t have to celebrate with others at midnight. If your child is strict on routine and can’t stay up late, then you can celebrate at noon with other countries like Australia.
- Have a small party: You don’t need to throw a fancy party; you can start small and simple. You can engage in small activities or play board games such as Candy Land, Sushi Go!, or Catan. If your little one wants to go out, you can visit several kid-friendly restaurants.
Tips for Setting Positive New Year’s Goals
So, with that being said, here are some tips for setting positive New Year’s goals for children with autism.
Focus on the Behavior You Want to See
Behavior is often a challenge many therapists have to work with; that’s why there’s a need to reduce it. Sometimes, it’s important to work on developing a positive-framed behavioral goal.
Be More Patient
Being a parent is not easy. Your patience is tested at every corner—and children with autism require a high level of patience to help them succeed. Being mindful and keeping your cool in stressful moments can help your autistic child progress.
Treat New Year’s Goals Seriously
When thinking about New Year’s goals, it’s important to:
- Define your target behaviors
- Set benchmarks goals
- Get personal
- Make goals achievable
- Establish your baseline
In addition, it’s essential to think about what your goals will be. You can start with a pie chart of skills and accomplishments. Highlight the areas where the child feels they have been most successful—and then one they need to focus on. You can create a sheet with two goals per week.
If the goal is met, the autistic child can receive a reward. If the plan still needs to be completed, you can break the task into smaller parts to ensure success in the following week. The number of steps you include in the goal depends on your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
By using the SMART method, you can classify your goals into five categories:
- Specific: The goal is clearly stated without vague words such as “longer” or “more.”
- Measurable: This goal should be something that can be measured so that success is evident.
- Attainable: These goals tell the child that whatever task they set can be accomplished in the near future.
- Realistic: Think about how this goal can be achieved and if the child has the ability and skills to accomplish it.
- Timely: Can the child accomplish this goal in a timely manner?
You can consider the following goals:
- Behavior goals
- School-related goals
- Therapy goals
- Social goals
- Life skill goals
- Executive function improvement skills
Think About the Year
In order to know how to move forward, you need to look back at what your autistic child accomplished over the current year. Think about their wins or the developmental steps they met. Write down everything you can think of that was a positive step forward.
After figuring this out:
- Think about the challenges they struggled with.
- Think about what they could have done better or areas they needed help with.
- Write them down.
Now you have a list of what happened this year—so take the time to reflect on it. Think about how you’d like to see your autistic child grow and develop. Determine what steps you can take to help your little one.
New Year’s Resolutions for Parents
Think About Safety
You can focus on physical goals, such as making changes around the home for the safety of your autistic child. Children with autism tend to wander and elope, so these safety measures can keep your little one safe.
Think About Your Happiness
If you feel stressed, then remember not to neglect your own needs. Think about New Year’s goals that focus on YOU. Some simple self-care tips can positively impact your child’s mental health and well-being.
Connect with Your Child
Your autistic child’s interests might not interest you, but it’s a big deal for your kid. All of your child’s interests are valid, and while pushing them away is easy, make sure you get involved in their favorite activities this year.
Furthermore, you can start recognizing little accomplishments more often. It might not be easy to identify these little things, but for a child with autism, it’s important. It shows your child that you’ve noticed their progress. Only focusing on their mistakes can lower their self-esteem, so give them your appreciation once in a while.
Write Down Things You Are Grateful For
Even if you don’t feel like it, it’s important to write down anything good that happened during the day in a journal to provide a new outlook on life. Or you can write it on a chalkboard and see it every day in the morning. It’s important to do whatever works for you.
Discover More: The Best DIY Christmas Craft Kit for Children with Autism.