Raising a child with autism spectrum disorder is a rewarding experience, but it's also challenging. In general, your autistic child has to work harder to achieve goals that neurotypical peers obtain more easily. Parents want the best for their children and will do anything possible to make that happen. In fact, statistics show that 62% of American parents admit to being overprotective of their children.
That's why parents of special needs children need to let their offspring know they're loved by celebrating milestones. You might feel apprehensive about sharing your child's milestones, but even if your autistic child doesn't reach milestone goals as neurotypical children do, it doesn't mean you shouldn't celebrate. Celebrating big or small victories is a massive moment for your child—and a way to encourage progress and growth. By praising your child, you can connect with them.
This article explores ways you can celebrate your autistic child’s milestones.
The Benefits of Celebration
An enthusiastic celebration will help your autistic child. No matter how you celebrate, your child's approach to life will change. Make sure that the celebration is developmentally and age-appropriate.
When you take the time to celebrate your child’s progress, you show them that you’re proud of them and want to continue that behavior. You are also establishing a safe place for your child to continue developing their skills—and show that people are kind and warm.
Parents also benefit from celebrating milestones. Aside from being fun, you will feel more motivated to support and navigate your child’s journey. Your bond will grow stronger in the future.
How Do You Know What Works Best for Your Child?
Every autistic individual is different. Their symptoms manifest in different ways, and no autistic person is the same. For example, some children don't react well to loud or energetic celebrations but prefer quiet environments.
You can celebrate your child’s milestones on the child’s terms:
- Engage in a laidback celebration by doing something they love.
- Allow them to finish the task, and then tell them how proud you are of what they did.
- Show your excitement nonverbally with facial expressions or hand gestures.
Tips for Celebrating Milestones
Give some thought before celebrating your child's milestones. You must show your child they are appreciated and loved, regardless of their abilities. You acknowledge that these milestones took significant effort, so noticing them will help build confidence.
Celebrating milestones doesn't need to be a huge event. Try celebrating in ways that benefit your little one and are tailored to your child’s needs. Here are some good tips for celebrating your autistic child’s milestones.
Continue Reading: How to Plan the Perfect Autism-Friendly Party.
Use a Calendar to Mark Developmental Milestones
A photo calendar is an excellent way to celebrate your child's milestones—and a good way to remind them of all the milestones they completed during the previous year. It will instill confidence in the child.
A photo calendar is also a great way to immortalize these precious memories and create a personalized book, if you want to. If your little one is having a hard time, you can remind them through the photo book.
Prepare a Nice Meal
Cakes are used for special occasions such as birthdays, but you can try baking cakes or cookies—or any special snack your child enjoys. If your child doesn't like sweets, you can prepare their favorite meal. In addition, if your child likes to bake or cook, it might be an excellent moment to bond with them.
Take a Trip
The trip doesn’t need to be a big one—and it should fit your budget. Think about what your child likes and prefers. If your little one wants to go to Disneyland or prefers to go to a small park, then go for it. Before you make any decision, it’s important to plan it out.
Do Something Special
You can reward your child by catering to their interests and needs. If your little one wants more extra time outside or listening to the songs they like on repeat, then do so. Your autistic child deserves to be excited about their progress.
Here are some ideas:
- Make your little one’s favorite meal.
- Go to your child's favorite place. Many places, like Chuck E. Cheese, have many games and activities that your child with ASD will enjoy.
- Go to a special outing that is meaningful for your little one, like a park.
- Play your child’s favorite game.
It doesn't matter what you decide to do; the thing that matters most is that you are celebrating with your child. Each step is a victory, so it's important to let your child know they're going in the right direction.
Join an Autism Community
Being in the presence of other parents with autistic children can be a comfort, as you are in an environment where you can freely celebrate your child's accomplishments. You can share everything without feeling judged or embarrassed, be it that your child has fewer meltdowns or they made a friend. The parents you share the news with will cheer for you. Knowing you're not alone in this journey will fill you with positive thoughts.
Surprise Them at School
Doing so shows your child how much you appreciate their little milestones. Surprising them at school also serves as a valuable experience. Before you do so, however, make sure to speak with your teacher and the staff so you come at an ideal time. Also, know whether your child likes surprises or prefers to stick to a routine.
Praise Your Child
When your child has made progress towards a goal, praise them. Verbal praise is best and will show your child how much you appreciate them—and that you are proud of them. Hugs are also an excellent way to show them you are happy, as long as your autistic child likes hugs. If your child is sensitive to touch, a high five or doing a little dance will suffice.