If a Child Isn’t Responding, Don’t Force it!
When we become frustrated and impatient it can become easy to prompt, direct, push, and pressure for a child to perform as we would like them to. For many on the spectrum this is an inefficient approach as they may act out, freeze, or avoid if they are being forced to respond.
For many on the spectrum we move too quickly
Dynamic information is usually processed slower than we give them time to do. If children are not responding to what it being asked, it is likely because they do not understand, are unsure of how to perform, are overwhelmed, scared, or feeling incompetent. For this reason, we may need to help clarify and assure them that they are capable. If scared or overwhelmed, it may be best to decrease demands and slow the pace. Guidance and support may be needed if they are unsure of how to perform. Almost always force and pressure will only produce panic and fear.
Let the child set the pace
Allowing the child to set the pace helps them feel safe and assured that they will not be forced into responding. If you are not able to help them feel secure in the current situation, added support may be required to help build a sense of safety and competency. It is our responsibility to switch approaches when a child is being unresponsive, not theirs. It is easy to become impatient and want to move on, but it is important to take the time to change your own approach and give the child enough time to respond accordingly. As a child’s response becomes more rigid, it then becomes our job to be more flexible in our own approach.
Respect, listen, understand, and support!
Meeting resistance with compassion as well as listening to what a child needs helps them perceive us as a trusted working partner.