Autism does not always mean hand flapping, rocking or language issues. However, sometimes it means, but not necessarily every time. There are certain things that we should keep in mind while discussing an autistic child. An autistic child may need a different treatment, but people do not need to feel awkward when they are around an autistic child. Special kids are smart, talented, thoughtful, and creative. You may not feel it obvious all the time, but their minds work quite differently from others. We need to accept these special kids as the way they are. So, next time, when you encounter a kid nuzzling his head, spinning, or chewing the corner of his shirt, do not stand there and gape with your mouth wide open. He is doing all these simply because he is anxious. He is still trying to cope with the way his surroundings that affect his body. Let us discuss some of the tips for parenting a child with autism.
Identifying Children with Autism and Signs and Symptoms of Autism
Appearing in early childhood, autism is a common condition related to a bunch of developmental disorders known as ASDs, autism spectrum disorders. Usually, autism appears before a child reaches the 3-years old mark. However, there are some signs that may be evident as early as 10-12 months. Some typical signs of autism include:
- Social withdrawal
- Weakened verbal and nonverbal communication skills
- Difficulty in making eye contact
- Repetitive activities and behaviors such as head banging, arm flapping, spinning, or twirling an object over and over
- Rigid behavior and difficulty in adjusting to change and transitions
- Narrow range of activities and interests
Causes of Autism
In the past, many people have blamed parenting practices as the cause of autism, which added a whole lot of guilt and shame on the parents of children with autism who were already trying to cope with the difficulties of raising an autistic child. However, as per the recent research, most of the scientists believe that the combination of genetic and environmental factors is the main cause of autism. Additionally, there may be biochemical and metabolic factors that can trigger autism spectrum disorder.
Tips for Parenting a Child with Autism
Did you ever think what it is like to raise a child with autism? Raising a child with autism can be a very daunting task and the day-to-day care of these special children can be stressful to the parents. As a responsible parent, you need to make sure that your child gets enough help and supports depending on the environment you are living. On the other hand, you also need to take care of your child’s prognosis and his long-term well-being. Let us discuss some of the parenting tips regarding how to parent a child on the autism spectrum.
- Focus on the Positives: Just like every other individual, children with ASD often respond well to the positive reinforcement. Praising them will certainly make them feel good about themselves. Be specific with your praise so that your child knows what you like about his behavior. Find different ways to reward your child. It can be a small gift or extra playtime.
- Make schedules and Try to Stay Consistent: Children on the autistic spectrum like being consistent and working as per the schedules. Make sure that your child is getting a continuous guidance and interaction so that he can practice what he learns from the therapy. This will certainly make him learn new skills and behaviors easily and help him to apply his knowledge in different situations.
- Include Play on the Schedule: Make sure to include play and fun activities in your child’s daily routine. Your child may find these activities more of fun rather than the education or therapy. This will help him opening up and connecting more with you.
- Give Some Time: You may try a lot of different techniques and approaches in order to give your child the best possible treatment. You need to be patient and stay positive if your child does not respond well to a certain therapy or method.
- Try to Take your Child along for Daily Activities: Knowing your child’s unpredictable behavior, you may feel that you should not expose him to certain situations. But, if you take your child along with you for daily activities like a morning walk, grocery shopping, trip to pet store or visit nearby library, it may help him to get used to the environment around him.
- Try Educating Yourself: It is obvious, as a parent of an autistic kid, you already know a lot about your child’s behaviors. However, you can learn as much as you can. Go online and read about the experiences of other parents of autistic kids. You can consult governmental and non-profitable organizations for information related to autism. Stay yourself updated with the latest research and findings. Make sure the sources of information you are looking at are reliable and reputable.
- Try Building a Support System: Find local groups and parent networks for families of children with autism. Ask your doctor or child developmental specialist to refer to some groups. You can also join online chat groups, share your experiences, seek help from other parents, and provide help for parents of autistic children.
Parenting a child with autism is quite a difficult and sensitive task. You need to remember that in order to improve the mental health and overall well-being of your child, you have to take care of yourself. Therefore, being patient, staying positive and encouraged is very important. Try giving time to yourself, your partner and your relationship. If you feel that the stress of taking care of your autistic child is affecting your relationship with your partner, and if you or your partner is feeling depressed, seek help. Ask your health care provider to find you a qualified individual or family therapist.