with Special Needs Children
A message from Mateo’s parents:
Mateo's birthday falls within the month of April which is Autism Awareness Month.
In honor of his sixth birthday, we created a list of 6 effective ways to connect with children like Mateo.
1. When speaking, get down to eye level, preferably below a child's gaze so that you are looking up at them. Some children with Autism are sensitive to dense crowds, lights, sounds, new faces and unfamiliar voices which can be overwhelming. You can help filter the sensory distraction by coming in closer proximity and kneeling down or sitting on the floor.
2. Slow down and use less words. Children with special needs process information at a different pace than you do. Adjust your cadence to give them a chance to catch up. Think here and now: use child-size language in the present moment. Keep in mind they hear you even though they may not be able to express it.
4. Wait for an authentic response rather than fill in the silence with words. Extended pauses and breaks in conversation are a natural part of relating to our children. You can help them develop their own ideas by patiently waiting for them to express themselves. When in doubt, wait ten seconds longer.
6. Play is the way. The best way to connect with all children and especially those on the Autism Spectrum, is to engage in child-size play. Try imitating their ideas before you initiate your own. Our children want to know that you recognize their interests and share their ideas.