Waiting for food at a restaurant, a doctor’s visit or even an unplanned event that is happening later than expected can be extremely stressful for a parent and child with Autism alike. Planning ahead can provide ease in unexpected and expected waiting time. Here are some strategies to help the waiting time run smoothly:
- Practice waiting in a natural environment: Practicing waiting at home or in a comfortable place can help a child to understand the idea of waiting. Have the child wait at the table before food is prepared, waiting before reading a bedtime story or waiting before walking out the door can help them gain more of the skill before being thrust into the community.
- Provide a reinforcer: Provide a toy or book to pass the time for the child.
- Utilize visual supports: Timers, social stories or token boards can give a child a clear start and ending time for the waiting period.
- Make visuals easy to access: Put visuals in an easy to grab area for car rides and community outings.
- Model what waiting looks like: Have children and adults alike model waiting and point out other children waiting for items so that your child gains more examples of what waiting looks like.
Once you prepare and put these preventative strategies in place, waiting time will be more enjoyable and well practiced.