No parent is ever fully prepared for their journey into parenthood. To have your child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ADS), or Autism, can be a challenge. Having an autistic child affects your family, and initially, you could be a little bit confused about how to go about taking care of your child’s needs. To assist you along the way, we have compiled a list of ten ways you can help your autistic child.
- Gain an understanding of ADS
Researchers are still finding out more about the disorder; however, there is enough information available to gain a basic understanding of autism. ADS is a developmental disability that affects the nervous system and causes impairment in the affected person’s ability to interact socially and communicate. Children with the disorder do not have a distinct look, which tells that they have the disease. They simply learn, interact, communicate, and behave differently. You should note that, although your child is autistic, their challenges may differ from those of another autistic child. In having some information and understanding, on ADS, you can relate better with your child and educate others on the condition.
- Early diagnosis
Now that you have some information about ADS, you can recognize any signs and symptoms in your child’s behavior, communication, or interactions. An early diagnosis would help you put your child on track to get the help he needs on time. Although it is not a ‘time-sensitive’ disorder, the earlier it is detected, the better. To be sure, consult a professional to help with diagnoses.
- Be involved, consistent and involved
Autistic children usually struggle with application. After being taught something in school or told to try something by their therapists, these children may not be able to apply it. In such cases, your involvement is vital. Get involved by finding out what was taught in school, or what was discussed during therapy sessions. When you are consistently engaged, you can help your child apply these things in a way that they are comfortable. By doing so, you help them learn better.
- Create a treatment plan
There are no specific medical treatments for ADS; however, treatment plans are created to improve the challenges the affected persons have. As autism affects each child differently, a treatment plan that works for one child may not work for your child- your child’s plan should be unique to them. Although teachers and doctors may make many recommendations, you know your child better. So, help the experts help your child by providing useful information like your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Also, inform the specialist about their interests and what they enjoy so that they can help your child in the best way possible. The treatment plan would help build your child’s interest, create a schedule, teach them to express themselves better, and create a comfortable space for them to improve themselves.
- Pay attention to your child’s sensory sensitivities
Children with ADS may have over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to sight, smell, touch, taste, and smell. In effect, they may need more of something or less of it. Let’s use the sense of sight as an example. If your child is hypersensitive to sight, they would prefer to pay attention to the details of an object rather than to take on the whole. If he is under-sensitive, he may have a blurred central vision but a sharp peripheral vision. In such a case, to make your child more comfortable, get professional advice, then buy appropriate children’s eyeglasses if required. You can look for some online for a wider range of choices.
- Safety first
Your autistic child is still a child, and just like every child, they may have too much fun. Avoid leaving sharp objects like scissors, swallowable pieces, and other harmful items in your child’s reach to make playtime safer. The best way to ensure safety is to allocate a room, or a particular space, in the house for your child to have space to themselves for some fun. Try to make it as conducive to their needs as possible, so that they may be comfortable and enjoy the time they spend there.
- Educate your family
It is suitable for the family as a whole to be there for your child. The best way for them to indeed be of help is for them to understand the disorder. Many family members may not understand the uniqueness of your child and want to stay away. But with some education and understanding, they would be able to relate better with your child and treat them as they should.
- Seek help and support
Taking care of an autistic child is a hands-on job, but not a one-person job. Sometimes, you will need a helping hand or a support group. It is okay to seek counseling once in a while to keep your mental health in check. Join support groups or connect with parents who also have autistic children to learn more about their disorder and how to improve on their life. These groups also help you socialize, make more friends, and make new connections that could help you along the way.
- Be patient with your child
Caring for an autistic child is a lot of hard work and can be frustrating. They may throw tantrums, and there is mostly some difficulty in communication and interaction. Despite this, they need you to be patient. Try to understand your child’s nonverbal patterns- how they behave when they are angry, hungry, or sad. Doing this goes a long way in helping you understand the needs of your child better. Also, during tantrums, try to find out the source rather than to lash out in frustration.
- Create fun activities
Spend time doing things that your child enjoys together. Many autistic children may enjoy working on computers, creating stuff, playing musical instruments, drawing, or singing. Find what your child enjoys and occasionally join them in doing it.
The joys of parenthood are conquering unexpected challenges that you face, and a child with ADS is no different from any other child, but perhaps a little more special.