Child with Autism – Tips for Parents

Though there is no single known cause or cure, autism is treatable. Children do not “outgrow” autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention can lead to significantly improved outcomes. With the right services and supports, people with autism can live full, healthy and meaningful lives.

Taking Medicine

  • Use a quick-dissolve tablet or transdermal gel instead of a pill.
  • Have a compounding pharmacist make your child’s medicine into a flavored troche; its texture is similar to a gummy bear.
  • Secure all vitamins and medicines.
  • Use liquid medicine flavored by the pharmacy or mix it with juice or Kool-Aid.
  • Do not use medicine patches on children with tactile issues.
  • If your child is not allergic, hide regular pills in chunky peanut butter.
  • If your child spits out medicine, to force him to swallow, place his chin in the palm of your hand, lift his head up, and blow in his face.
  • To mask the taste of a bitter-tasting medicine, give your child some chocolate first.
  • Giving your child yogurt or milk products before the medicine coats the tongue and throat, masking the taste of the medicine.
  • Give your child a favorite candy after he takes a bitter-tasting medicine.
  • Sprinkle medicinal or nutritional powders over ice cream with nuts.
  • Mix powdered medicines in applesauce or yogurt.
  • Use fruit juice ice pops for a mouth injury or to hydrate an ill child who cannot keep anything down

Doctor Visits

  • Apply for medical assistance; children with autism are usually eligible regardless of their parents’ income.
  • Find a doctor experienced with autism who is current on the latest developments in the field.
  • Look for a doctor who is flexible and has confidence in you as a parent.
  • Look for a doctor who will look at and talk to your child, even if your child is non-verbal.
  • Bring your child to the doctor’s office at a non-busy time to familiarize him with the waiting area and exam room.
  • To help your child understand what will happen at his doctor’s or dentist appointment, read him a picture book about what happens at the doctor’s office.
  • If possible, bring another adult to your child’s appointment to watch your child while you talk to the doctor.


To help your child get used to malls, go early before the stores open. Walk around to familiarize your child with the building, buy him a snack when the stores open, and leave. Extend the amount of time at the mall each time you go.
When out shopping, praise and give your child a small reward, such as a piece of candy, for staying with you.
To teach your child not to touch things when shopping, visit a clothing store or another store with unbreakable objects; tell him not to touch if he tries to grab something.
To minimize wait time, buy shoes at stores that let you pick out your own shoes instead of having to wait for a salesperson.
When shopping, bring a helper to keep track of your child until you are confident that she will stay with you.

Grocery Shopping

  • When grocery shopping, teach your child to stay with the cart.
  • To train your child to walk beside the grocery cart, bring an assistant to bring your child back to the cart if he wanders off.
  • Have your child place his feet on the lower shelf of the grocery cart, put your arms around him on either side of the bar, and push the cart around like it’s a ride.
  • Have your child help you pick out the food and place it in the grocery cart.
  • Go to the grocery store at non-busy times to cut down on wait time when paying.
  • Start with a short shopping list, including your child’s favorite foods.
  • Get your child’s favorite food first and place it in plain sight at the bottom of the cart; he will keep in close visual contact with that item.
  • Have your child help unload the groceries at the register; let him pick out a treat and praise him when you leave.


  • Take your child to a movie that is not likely to have many loud noises.
  • Take her to a matinee of a movie that is on its way out as the theater will be practically empty.
  • Arrive at the movie a few minutes late to avoid previews, which tend to show the most stimulating scenes.

Safety When Out

  • Attach a dog tag with your child’s name, your name, your phone number (preferably cell phone), and the word “autism” to the inner laces of your child’s shoe.
  • Write out your child’s name and phone number and have him practice reciting it.
  • Carry a recent photo of your child in your wallet in the event he wanders away from you


  • Buying tickets in advance will cut down on wait time at movie theaters, puppet shows, and amusement parks.
  • Avoid merry-go-rounds for low-functioning children as there may be too much sensory input.
  • Try a stationary seat on an amusement ride and sit hugging your child.
  • Wearing a fanny pack instead of a purse leaves both hands free for your child.
  • When out for the day, bring a spare set of clothes for accidents or if your child’s clothes get wet.
  • To help day trips run more smoothly, travel in two cars so that one parent can return home with your child if he gets distressed.
  • Feed your child before leaving home or bring food with you.
  • Have your child play with a quiet toy like a calculator in a restaurant, during religious services, or other social activity.

Eating Out

  • Before eating at a fast-food restaurant, go through the drive-thru and eat at home.
  • To help your child practice sitting at the table at a fast-food restaurant, go through the drive-thru and eat in the restaurant.
  • To keep your child seated at a restaurant, sit him in a booth close to a window and sit beside him.
  • Bring a special activity bag that your child can play with only at the restaurant.
  • To help your child with waiting, set a timer so she knows how long she has to wait.
  • To teach your child to wait for his food at a fast-food restaurant, have another adult sit at the table with him while you order. Once your child is comfortable with this arrangement, have him wait with you at the counter for your order.
  • Watch your child when walking through a restaurant to make sure he doesn’t grab food off other people’s plates.
  • Before going to a restaurant, practice ordering with your child; let him give the order when he has it memorized.
  • To teach your child that we exchange money for things we want, have her give the money to the cashier.
  • When making a purchase, have a child that knows math calculate the change.
  • When going to a pizza parlor, first order over the phone but eat the pizza at the restaurant, sitting where your child can watch the pizza being made. Next time, order at the pizza parlor and sit where your child can see the food being made.