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Building Resiliency: One Coping Skill at a Time
Our ability to cope and overcome difficult situations builds the foundation for us to be resilient. We can foster that same resiliency in our children and loved ones with autism by intentionally identifying times of day to practice and develop coping skills.

Last week, during our What We Know Works Webinar Series, we introduced strategies that can be used every day to intentionally create learning opportunities that already exist within your daily routines. By taking advantage of these naturally occurring learning opportunities, you are able to further develop skills that are critical for your child to experience success. One of the areas we highlighted was coping skills. 

Coping skills are strategies that individuals use to safely, effectively, and diplomatically, cope with, tolerate, and accommodate adversity in situations that are in their overall best interest (Ala’i-Rosales et al., 2018). Teaching these skills is a process that is individualized to a person’s unique preferences, motivations, and skill level. These skills are also influenced by the type of task or demands being placed on the  individual. What strategies a person uses to cope can vary across environments and be anything from taking deep breaths, engaging in a movement break, or listening to music.

If you were unable to attend the live webinar, you can access the recorded presentation on our website , as well as the Everyday Strategies Companion Worksheet. Both resources can be accessed and downloaded from our website by following this link: https://okautism.org/Training-Events , and provide more information on how to get started teaching coping skills.
Tip of the Week
Focus on one area to expand your child’s coping skills. Take some time to think about your child’s current skill level in this area, as well as what progress in this area may look like for them.

  • How do they respond when asked to do non-preferred activities, or when demands are placed on them?
  • What does it look like when they are upset?
  • Do they have effective ways to calm, reset, or safely and appropriately protest? 

Using these questions you can begin to identify some coping strategies that may help your child better manage day to day life. A few simple examples are:
  •  If your child gets frustrated with school work or other tasks, model how to ask for help or how to ask for a break. Then support your child to ask for help or a break (using a visual support if needed) in a way that works for him/her.
  •  If your child becomes upset when he/she has to wait for a preferred item, begin practicing waiting for short periods of time for less highly preferred items. When your child asks for something, say ‘Wait and I will give you the _________.’ Pause for a few seconds and then provide the item, saying ‘Nice job waiting for your __________.’ 

Watching our webinar over everyday strategies and following along in the supplemental worksheet can provide more assistance when identifying ways to expand on your child’s coping skills. https://okautism.org/Training-Events
Identify what coping skills you are going to practice and how you want to practice them : Thinking about your child’s individual strengths and needs, what are some extra supports (i.e., visuals, tools) you  might want nearby when practicing the skill? Both Dr. Amy Laurent and Kari Dunn Buron  have tools on their website you may identify as helpful when working on these skills with your child. We discussed some of these tools in our webinar.

Identify when to practice: First, introduce and practice coping skills in a controlled environment, when your child is calm. Then, give your child an opportunity to practice those same skills in natural context by redirecting and prompting them to use the skill in natural context.

Assess your progress: Take some time to reflect what is working well, and any areas you may want to tweak to experience more success. Remember to praise the process and celebrate progress that comes with practice.
Upcoming Training Opportunity

Our training, Finding a Place in the World, scheduled for May 7th in Tulsa has been postponed until late summer or early fall. We will be offering some of the content in a webinar in June. Watch our website for updates at: https://okautism.org/Training-Events
Additional Resources
How are you coping? As a reminder, if you are needing more information or support we can help point you in a direction of other resources available to help meet your needs or provide technical assistance managing a situation related to your family member with ASD. 

All OAN staff are working remotely due to restrictions in place at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center due to COVID-19.  

The best way to reach us is by email at okautism@ouhsc.edu

We are continuing to add information and resources to our COVID-19 section of our website. 

  Stay safe and healthy!
The Oklahoma Autism Network Team