The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 1 in 54 children have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Associated challenges include comorbid diagnosis of anxiety and behavioral disorders. According to a Future Neurology study, about 40% of people with ASD also have an anxiety disorder. Additionally, intellectual disability is present in 31% of children with ASD, according to Autism Speaks.
The statistics highlight the considerable complexity that parents of children with autism face. Among the resources available to help parents address these challenges, autism podcasts offer convenience and ease. Podcasts can provide inspiration, encouragement, and information essential to supporting children with autism and their families.
Parents can take an active role in intervention strategies to help their children overcome the learning challenges that autism poses. Applied behavioral analysts can teach them to apply techniques that improve their children’s behavioral and communication skills. This is primarily true during the COVID-19 pandemic, as parents supervise their children’s learning at home.
For example, parents can empower children with autism to communicate in their own style. A nonverbal child might develop a unique set of gestures; parents can empower their children by learning these gestures and developing reciprocal ones. For children who like to draw, parents can draw with them. Letting the children take the lead is essential. Drawing things that the children feel connected with, such as comic book characters, can reduce their inhibition to share their emotions, thoughts, and concerns.
Parents can tap into applied behavioral analysts’ and special education teachers’ knowledge to learn techniques and strategies that integrate behavioral therapeutic tactics at home. According to the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT), training parents on techniques is useful for “decreasing non-productive behavior, increasing intake of non-preferred foods, enhancing functional communication, improving compliance with parental requests, and teaching imitation of actions with objects.”
Parents can also learn from other parents of children with autism and access resources from organizations such as the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the CDC, and the Autism Society of America (ASA). Whenever parents find time in their busy days, they can learn about their children’s condition with podcasts about autism.
Essential Podcasts About Autism
These podcasts for parents provide information and resources for parents of children with autism and the autism community in general. Each offers a different type of content, from inspirational stories from parents and teachers to a review of scientific autism research.
While their formats vary, they all provide essential information that parents can apply to at-home behavioral therapeutic strategies. These podcasts also provide communal support through links to additional resources, such as organizations that focus on autism research, education, awareness, and opportunities to engage through social media.
Here are six podcasts about autism that parents should follow.
A host, two board-certified behavior analysts with doctorates (BCBA-Ds), and special guests talk about various applied behavior analysis (ABA) topics in this podcast that the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) has approved. In each episode of the podcast, the panel discusses issues important to parents and behavior analysts, including parent training to decrease challenging behavior by applying at-home behavioral therapeutic strategies. Episodes focusing on parenting include Episode 67: Positive Parenting, Part 1, and Episode 103: The Effects of Parent Stress, Child Outcome, and the BCBA-Caregiver Relationship.
“Autism POVs” covers topics important to people with autism and their families and communities. Through the perspectives of people with autism, the podcast aims to help create understanding for people with autism, parents of children with autism, and others involved in the autism community. Parents seeking to apply at-home behavioral therapeutic strategies can learn about parental support, early intervention, dealing with bullying, and more.
From where to start and lesson planning to scheduling and coping with aggressive behavior, “The Autism Helper” incorporates podcasts and blog posts to provide resources that can help parents manage their children’s behavior at home. Recent episodes focus on providing parents with strategies for remote learning, including reinforcement techniques and best practice tips for distance learning.
Besides sharing her experience as a parent of a child with autism, the host of “Adventures in Autism” interviews other parents of children with autism, experts, and others in the autism community. Amid candid discussions about living with a child with autism, parents can learn about others’ personal experiences. Parents also get insights into coping with the challenges of having children with autism and strategies for applying at-home behavioral therapeutic strategies.
Since 2015, “ASF Weekly Science” has been a resource for parents of children with autism. Presented by the Autism Science Foundation, the podcast is where parents can listen to experts discuss at-home behavioral therapeutic strategies. Topics include different autism interventions and tips for improving the social communication ability of nonverbal children. The podcast also explores and explains recent autism research.
Educators and parents of children with autism from 32 countries tune into “The Autism Show,” where they can listen to the experiences of people in the autism community and hear stories that inspire and inform. Every week, advocates, educators, professionals, and organizations offer tips for implementing at-home behavioral therapeutic strategies. For example, various episodes focus on educating parents to help their children improve self-control, transition from one activity to the next, and regulate emotions and senses.
Talking to Parents About Autism
A parent may find an ASD diagnosis for their child to be traumatic. According to a study in the journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, about 1 in 5 parents of children with autism displayed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. At the critical discovery phase, applied behavioral analysts can play a central role in helping parents cope.
In this vulnerable stage, behavior analysts can use various techniques and strategies for talking to parents about autism.
Setting Professional Boundaries
In communicating with parents and families, setting professional boundaries is important. Failure to do so in the relationship’s early stage may impact therapy success. Applied behavioral analysts should outline a clear description of the services they’ll deliver at the outset. In every facet of communication, truthfulness and honesty are essential for a trusting relationship.
Once applied behavior analysts have set professional boundaries, they can focus on building trust with parents, because their involvement is critical to therapy success. Throughout the relationship, clarifying the roles, expectations, and responsibilities of everyone involved is vital. Applied behavior analysts need to establish trust with parents, explaining the available resources in supportive language.
Providing Guidance and Resources
An applied behavior analyst’s information and guidance can help parents of children with autism adjust to the diagnosis. For example, an applied behavior analyst can teach parents techniques for managing behaviors and tips for dealing with stress. They can also help extended family members prepare for transitions.
An applied behavior analyst should make eye contact with parents when talking to them about autism. They should listen closely to the parents’ concerns, empathize with them without judgment or interrupting them, and give them clear information.
Helping Parents Empathize
A key strategy to guide traumatized parents toward understanding their child’s diagnosis is to ask questions like, “What would your child say about this situation right now?” In addition to getting parents to empathize with their child, it can help them reconcile their own concerns and issues. It also gives parents insight into what their child may be thinking and feeling.
Talking to Children About Autism
Along with helping children’s parents understand an autism diagnosis, explaining it to the children themselves is essential. Educating children about their autism can help give them clarity about their feelings and challenges. Talking to children about autism is a long-term process, involving multiple conversations.
For parents, approaching the discussion may be unclear, and they may be uncertain about how to respond to their child’s reactions. A child may react with confusion, sadness, or even anger. Some children may use their diagnosis as an excuse to act out. Applied behavioral analysts can facilitate the process by helping explain the diagnosis directly to the child and guiding parents on techniques for talking to children about autism.
Applied behavioral analysts and parents can use various techniques and strategies to speak to children diagnosed with autism.
Take Notes and Self-Educate
An autism diagnosis can be difficult for children to understand. Many families may need an applied behavioral analyst’s help at the outset. These occasions offer parents opportunities to write down key points discussed as the applied behavioral analyst explains the child’s diagnosis. This information may be useful in future conversations between the child and parents.
Parents should also educate themselves about autism. An applied behavioral analyst can offer a primer, guiding parents to learn even more from other resources to better understand the disorder. The self-education process can better equip parents to answer questions. Parents can get help from books, websites, and videos.
Be Clear and Straightforward
Every child is different, so timing the educational process requires being attuned to children’s needs and listening to their concerns and questions. When answers to questions are unclear, parents should let the child know that they’ll learn more, and then follow up later.
Using a straightforward approach with a child with autism in describing the challenges — avoiding technical terms or confusing scientific terminology — is essential. In explaining autism, parents can emphasize that the child’s brain works differently from that of others, without implying value judgments.
Use Supportive Language to Normalize Differences
Parents and applied behavioral analysts can work together to build a child’s confidence, showing how people from all walks of life are different. The first important consideration is that speaking to children about autism should be done gradually and when everyone involved is calm and ready to communicate and listen. Emphasis on the unique ways that people do things can help children understand that being different is normal and highlights each individual’s special characteristics.
For young children or those having difficulty understanding the concept of people’s differences, parents and applied behavioral analysts can use other examples, such as differences among animals or topics of interest to the child, such as toys, cartoon characters, or athletes. Through supportive language, children can better grasp how every person is special and be enabled to accept differences as normal.
Understanding the Keys of Communication
Applied behavioral analysts with the skills to guide parents in applying treatment protocols and individualized strategies that work best for their children are in the best position to help families adjust to their new normal. Whether through autism podcasts or in-person work settings, such as schools, child care centers, and hospitals, applied behavioral analysts with strong knowledge of ABA treatment and intervention planning can help improve the lives of children with autism and their families.
An advanced education such as Regis College’s masters in Applied Behavior Analysis program can provide graduates with the understanding and experience to advance in their careers. The curriculum includes courses in ABA, treatment evaluation, behavior intervention, and ethical practice in ABA to enable graduates to support children, parents, and educators effectively.
Learn how Regis can prepare you for a rewarding career helping children with autism pursue their goals and supporting parents in need.