We have so much to be thankful for, and we really can’t say it enough: We are so grateful for both our IBO clients and our staff! Thanksgiving reminds us to take the time to appreciate everything we have. As a parent of a child with special needs, that might feel hard to do some days, but there’s so much value in appreciating the positive and in teaching your kiddo to do the same (for more on the value of gratitude for parents and children, check out this blog).
From our ABA therapists, here are a few ideas to help your child with autism identify and express their gratitude.
Identify What They’re Grateful For
For children with autism, abstract concepts—such as gratitude—are difficult to grasp (and even more difficult to express). To explain the idea of being thankful, it may help to start with emotions your child understands a little better. Make a list of things that make them happy or sad. As you add to the list, use the opportunity to talk about how much you both appreciate the things in the happy column.
For children who are nonverbal or could just use an extra prompt, try using photos of people, places, and things that they enjoy, and let them point to the things that they appreciate.
Three Ways Kids Can Express Their Gratitude
Communication challenges are a hallmark of autism spectrum disorder, but with a little extra prep work, there are plenty of ways your child can express their gratitude in a way that works for them. If your child struggles with face-to-face interactions, here are a couple alternative ideas to help them say “thank you.”
Write a note. Your child can write or dictate a note to a friend, sibling, or family member. If your child is just learning to write, create a fill-in-the-blank template so they can do as much as possible on their own.
Draw a picture. Ask your child to draw a picture of something they’re thankful for. If your kiddo explains their drawing to you, write their description at the bottom or on the back.
Make a video. This is one of our favorites! With a little planning ahead, you can record your child saying thank you for something special. This is a great alternative to thank you cards for birthday or holiday presents, too.
This Thanksgiving, as you reflect on the people in your life and the progress your child is making, we just want to say thank you for trusting us to partner with your family and work with your child. At IBO, we’re grateful to our staff and our clients, and we look forward to many more years of working with our team and serving your family.