This is controversial but my experience has suggested eye contact and if it is your own child, physical affection is important when dealing with an autistic child. No they do not always like it but I believe it helps them to connect. They need lots of reassurance but I like to shake things up, to help get them used to change and decrease the likelihood of meltdowns.
I have worked extensively with children who have a variety of special needs. One of my overriding philosophies has always been, to aim to never do anything for a child, which they can do for themselves. Yes they might struggle but that is ok.
All disabilities are different and I have got it badly wrong on occasions but overall I have found when working with many children, it is important not to do too much for them. It is very disempowering. Many children simply need to be given time to adapt and to work out their own strategies. There is nothing worse than somebody who continually waltzes in and takes over.
One of my most rewarding experiences was working with a disabled child for a year in a kindergarden. She had not liked me at first. I did not open doors for her. She was initially in a wheelchair and had also used a frame. I stood by to prevent people barging by her and just talked her through it. I once spent hours teaching her to hang her coat on a hook. She had rapidly become able to run around the classroom and even climb up outdoor play equipment. I have a beautiful card from her mother, which I will always treasure.
She was amazing. She taught me so much. I dreamed of getting her into a mainstream school. Last I heard she was in a school for children with special needs. I often wonder how she is doing.
Great Quote From Unknown Source:
“I don’t think the worst thing that could happen to me is raising a child with special needs. I think the worst thing is to raise a child who is cruel to those with special needs.”
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