This brief article will give you tips on how to help your child cope with shopping trips. The child with Asperger's Syndrome needs to know what is expected of them at all times, as well as what to expect from the world around them. This need for consistency and having planned events as much as humanly possible is one of the keys to helping your child. Shopping trips that are lengthy, when they have no prior knowledge of the expectations, are bound to fail. It is not only appropriate but important for them to access the community, participating in normal activities as the rest of us do.
Because all children deserve and need to be able to cope with social situations of different kinds. But if they are not given accurate information, or the trip is simply too long, it is bound to fail. In order to integrate the child with Asperger's Syndrome into the community, it is best to start with very small, quick trips. Take the child with you to pick up one item. Prior to entering the store, tell them why you are there and what you are there to get.
This will help your child to get a quick understanding of the situation. Give them some "brief" cues on what will be expected of them. Because remember that the social cues and social graces we naturally take for granted have to be learned by your child ? they don't come naturally. If they start misbehaving in the store, remind them the trip is almost over. After you have retrieved what you are there to buy, leave the store and reward them with verbal praise for their behavior, if it was acceptable.
It is important to reward behavior, even if it isn't perfect. But to be most effective this needs to be straight after the event. Delayed praise has less impact in helping to change behavior for the better. It is also useful if the praise is specific rather than general. For example "you did really well when we had to queue behind those people today" is better than "well done at the store today".
Your child is desperate to succeed, especially when it comes to fitting in. Only after several successful, short trips, should you try to increase the time spent in the store. But again this must be planned and explained beforehand for your child. If there is inappropriate behavior, beyond what any child would do, simply leave the store and try again another day. You can prime the child for good behavior by making sure that they are not already over-stimulated when you go to the store.
Some physical activity prior to a shopping trip can make for a more successful venture. Also be aware of issues like particular food or drink stimulants that may have an impact on your child too. It is also important to remember that some days are just simply not too good for doing these trips, for example if there have been problems that day at school. So if it's "just one of those days" then leave the trip for another day. In summary then ? it is important to have a slow build up to shopping trips with everything carefully explained to the child.
This can then be gradually expanded ? but be aware that at times the trips will need to be abandoned or stopped, which is a better option than "forcing" the child in the wrong situation.
Dave Angel is a social worker with families who have children on the Autistic Spectrum and is the author of a new e-book that answers the 46 most asked questions by parents of children with Asperger's. To claim your free 7 day Mini-Course for parents of children with Asperger's Syndrome, visit http://www.parentingaspergers.com today.