It is hard to know how to interact with a child who is on the spectrum or who struggles socially. When they’re busy doing their “thing”—spinning tires, lining up blocks, playing that one game over and over on their tablets, etc… It feels like they’re so deep in their own world that interacting is pointless. It might even cause a meltdown.
Get on their level anyway. You don’t have to be in their face or force interaction.
Just try “checking in” for 2 minutes, 4 times a day to begin with. This was the advice from the boys’ speech therapist (and my dear friend) Rachel, and let me just tell you, it works. It can also be found in the book, More Than Words, which addresses these exact things.
You can sit next to your child and do things like narrate their play, copy their body language (like I’m doing here with Luke) maybe sing a song or talk to them about anything, spin tires next to them, line up blocks next to them. One of my favorites is to sit on the floor (or the couch–wherever they are) and start blowing bubbles. It’s wonderful for building joint attention and it’s fun!
It almost seems too easy, doesn’t it. But these little micro-investments show them that you’re interested and participating in their world. And chances are, your child will give feedback. Here are some of Luke’s ways of letting me know he’s engaging:
Eye contact, even just momentary.
Touching my hand.
Looking over at you to see what I’m doing.
“Sharing” a toy with me.
Sitting on my lap to see what I’m doing.
Going away, then coming back to see if I’m still there.