Creating an easy autism plan for the new year

According to the most recent data from psychologists at the University of Scranton, 45% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions … and 8% are successful in keeping them.

What happens to that other 37%? Why do some people manage to keep their resolutions while others do not?

One key reason is that we tend to take on too much too fast. We’re impatient to change our circumstances, so we make superhuman resolves to effect overnight transformations.

What does this look like in real time? Let’s say that, despite your best intentions, you didn’t do any social skills exercises with your child last year.

But this year, you are resolved to do them every single day for two hours straight! That will really make a difference!

Your heart is in the right place, but that kind of sudden, radical shift is a recipe for frustration and burnout.

As New York Times bestselling author, and former Harvard sociologist Martha Beck, Ph.D. writes in her O Magazine article, 5 Pieces of Advice Everyone Ignores (But Shouldn’t!):

“[The] tiny-steps approach applies to any difficult thing …. The bigger the task, the smaller my steps. If I feel myself tiring or avoiding tasks, I cut my steps in half, then in half again, until each step feels easy.”  

That’s why we’ve created an easy autism plan for you: because small steps really do make all the difference.

Here, we’ve outlined a few essential tasks and paired them with possible “tiny step” action items.

Educate yourself on the autism basics.

If you’re in the initial post-diagnosis period, chances are you have a lot of questions. The autism world may seem unfamiliar and overwhelming.

You’re trying to stay calm and set up supports for your child, but sometimes it all feels like too much.

Medical professionals throw around terms you’ve never heard before, and you’re Googling them between appointments.

You may feel as though you’ve traveled to a country where you don’t speak the language. If so, we understand, and we’d be glad to help translate.

Possible Tiny Steps:  

Look into beginning Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

As you plan ahead for the new year, we recommend integrating ABA therapy support into your family’s daily routine.

This is perhaps the most important part of your easy autism plan, as it will empower your child’s social and emotional growth.

ABA is the research-based process of helping individuals to change and better specific behaviors. To quote our blog post Autism Resource: What is ABA therapy?:

“Applied Behavior Analysis seeks to apply procedures of behavior analysis to socially significant problems to produce practical change. The effectiveness of those procedures is always measured.”

Furthermore, it’s one of very few autism treatments that passes the “safe, worthwhile, and effective” test with flying colors. In a market filled with false promises, ABA stands apart.

ABA has been approved as an autism intervention by the US Surgeon General, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The National Institute of Mental Health, and many more reputable organizations. (Check out this page for a full list of ABA endorsements.)

Possible Tiny Steps:  

But what if an ABA clinician isn’t accessible to my family?

Ideally, you’d schedule in-person therapy sessions with a trained professional (that is, a Board-Certified Behavioral Analyst, or BCBA).

As we noted in our blog post 10 signs you need ABA therapy support:

“An ABA specialist can design a program for your child based on specific social skill gaps. Such individually-tailored learning can make a big difference in a relatively small amount of time.”

However, we understand that working with a BCBA is not possible for everyone. Geographic distance, lack of quality local services, and financial constraints all prevent families from accessing vital ABA services.

Given the tremendous rise in autism diagnoses over the last decade, it’s no surprise that the demand for behavioral services often exceeds their availability.

And that’s why we created FirstPath Autism: so that every family can have affordable access to proven, professional autism treatment.

Possible Tiny Steps:

  • Need help locating high-quality ABA providers nearby? Check out our post How to find autism support in a services desert for a step-by-step guide.
  • If you can set up therapy sessions, consider FirstPath to supplement your child’s learning by providing regular in-home reinforcement.
  • If in-person therapy isn’t a possibility at present, utilize the FirstPath video library for in-home learning.