Parents often want to know what the signs of autism are and how they can help their loved one. This guide offers a helpful resource for parents on understanding and navigating the challenges that come with raising an autistic child.
The “challenges of being a parent of an autistic child” is the first step to understanding the unique needs that come with raising a child on the spectrum.
So, your kid has been diagnosed with autism. What should you do now? What’s the next logical step?
It might be a frightening and confusing moment if you’ve recently found that your kid has autism. You’ve probably got a lot of questions regarding autism, what it means for your kid and family, and how to proceed. This manual will assist you in getting started.
What Exactly Is Autism?
Autism, or more particularly, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a developmental impairment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This classification may apply to a variety of long-term (and potentially life-long) medical disorders. These problems might be caused by a problem with the development of brain areas that govern language, learning, behavior, or physical movement.
When it comes to autism, persons with ASD will have difficulties with their behavior, communication, and social skills. People with autism have no physical distinctions from those without the illness, but they will learn, behave, communicate, and interact differently (sometimes quietly, sometimes blatantly) than others around them.
People with autism might be extremely challenged in their learning, thinking, and problem-solving skills, or they can be very bright. Some persons on the autism spectrum need a lot of help to operate and be happy, while others are more self-sufficient.
Today, the autism spectrum disorder diagnosis encompasses a number of additional diseases that were formerly diagnosed individually. A doctor or expert will search for evidence of Asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise defined (PDD-NOS), and other conditions in addition to autistic disorder. All of these symptoms are associated with autism spectrum disorder.
Autism Spectrum Disorder Symptoms
Autism sufferers often struggle with social, behavioral, communicative, and emotional abilities. They may be averse to change in their daily routines, and they may engage in repetitive actions for hours at a time, refusing to stop and responding adversely if interrupted.
ASD symptoms may appear as early as toddlerhood and can last for the rest of a person’s life.
You’ve undoubtedly seen some of the indicators in your kid if he or she has been diagnosed with autism.
- They don’t seem to care about things that are brought out to them.
- They are uninterested in other people and find it difficult to connect to them. Children with autism may be interested in other people, but they may not know how to play with them, converse with them, or connect with them in any other way.
- They are unable to establish eye contact and have little or no desire to socialize.
- They are unable to express their emotions.
- They either don’t want to be held or hugged, or they will only let themselves be held or snuggled when they desire.
- They may not answer when talked to, and they may not even realize that their name is being called.
- They may repeatedly repeat words or phrases uttered to them, or respond to queries with same words or phrases, even when the situation is inappropriate.
- They may repeat certain activities many times.
- A new schedule may cause them to have severe negative responses.
- They may have strange responses to specific noises, tastes, scents, forms of touch, or sights.
- They may lose some of their previously acquired talents and abilities.
Where Does Autism Originate?
There is no “fast and simple solution” to the issue of what causes autism, according to Psychology Today. Many variables, including but not limited to genetic, environmental, and biochemical factors, are considered to have a role in autism.
- Genetics: Researchers believe that one of the risk factors that might enhance the likelihood of a kid having ASD is genetics. Children who have an autistic sibling are at an increased risk of acquiring ASD.
- Babies born to moms who take certain prescription medicines during pregnancy, such as valproic acid and thalidomide, have an increased chance of developing ASD. Other data suggests that important times before, during, and soon after delivery might have an impact on ASD development.
- ASD is more likely to occur in those who have particular genetic or chromosomal disorders, such as fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis.
- Age of the parents: Parents who have children later in life are more likely to have a kid with ASD.
- Sex: Autism tends to occur more often in boys than in girls. This might be the result of underreporting, says U.S. News & World Report, but it is found across all socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic groups.
Testing & Diagnosis
Because there is no test to identify autism spectrum disorder, acquiring confirmation of the illness’s existence might be difficult for some families. To establish whether your kid has ASD, doctors must examine their behavior and development trends.
Autism may be consistently recognized in a kid as early as 18 months of age. An experienced specialist may give a highly accurate diagnosis after 24 months. Many children will not be diagnosed with autism until they are much older, due to the difficulty in identifying the symptoms. This denies young children the chance to get early behavior treatment, which may be very helpful to both them and their parents.
“There is no treatment for autism,” said the mother of autistic twins to NBC News. However, Intervention in the Early Stages may make a major difference in a child’s growth. Children may benefit from specialized Intervention in the Early Stages programs that educate them how to manage with symptoms and develop relationships with other children and adults.
Intervention in the Early Stages
If your kid has been diagnosed with autism, you’ve probably already seen with a doctor and a specialist who examined your child thoroughly. Developmental pediatricians (who deal in child development and with special needs children), child neurologists (who specialize in children’s brains, spines, and nerves), and child psychologists or psychiatrists were among the experts.
Intervention in the Early Stages services can be hugely beneficial to a child on the autism spectrum. You can call your state’s public early childhood system to find out if your child qualifies for intervention services. This evaluation can be done at no cost to you, and it is best suited for children under the age of 3. If your child is older, your public school system can connect you with an appropriate evaluator. Private therapy providers also offer intervention services, often on a much faster timeline.
What Can You Do to Assist Your Child?
Parents of children on the autistic spectrum face unique problems. At times, the experience might be draining and confusing.
If your kid has been diagnosed with autism, here are some helpful hints for dealing with the difficulties and possibilities that lie ahead:
- Maintain a sense of order and organization. Children with autism spectrum disorder may find it difficult to transfer what they’ve learned in one context to another. If your kid learnt sign language at their therapist’s office or at school, for example, they may not be able to use it at home. Create stability in your child’s surroundings to promote learning. Study how your child’s therapists and instructors teach skills to him or her, and then do the same at home. This adjustment may be made much easier with in-home therapy treatments.
- Maintain a schedule. Children with autism fare much better when they have a well-structured schedule or routine. Establish a timetable, convey that plan clearly, and stick to it. Give your kid as much warning and as many reminders as possible if you need to adjust the plan for whatever reason.
- Positive reinforcement should be used. Rewarding excellent conduct is a powerful tool for parenting children in general, but it’s especially crucial for children with ASD. When praising a youngster for learning a new skill or acting correctly, be precise about the action you’re praising them for. This may be quite beneficial to the learning process.
- Make your house a secure haven. Provide your kid with a private space in the home where they may feel safe and at ease. This is referred to as a “sensory chamber” on occasion. For a kid with autism, this may include arranging the space and establishing boundaries in a manner that makes sense to them, such as utilizing brightly colored visual clues to distinguish their safe area from the rest of the home. You may need to safety-proof your house if your kid engages in hazardous or self-injurious behavior.
- Find innovative methods to connect with others. It might be challenging to communicate with a kid on the autism spectrum, but there are various methods to do so. Learning nonverbal methods to interact with your kid may open up a world of communication possibilities. The way you look at your kid, your tone of voice, and your body language are all alternatives. It also entails understanding which kind of physical touch are effective and which are not. Even if a kid with autism does not talk (or never speaks), they are attempting to communicate with you. This might include paying close attention to your child’s facial expressions and noises, as well as the movements they make when they want something. It might even be as simple as keeping track of when they are weary or hungry.
- Keep an eye out for the impulse. Try to figure out why your kid is acting the way he or she is. Because children with autism often lack the ability to speak adequately, they get agitated and irritated when their demands are misinterpreted or disregarded. This might be the reason for their outbursts. The Cleveland Clinic suggests that both you and your kid have a structure in place so that you can start to understand the surroundings and the timeframe behind acting out. This may be a complex set of steps in which you address the behavior while also attempting to filter off negative impulses. You may have to physically prevent a youngster from participating in hostile conduct while also denying them of the attention they need. Instead, pay attention to good actions.
- Don’t forget to have a good time. Autistic children are still children first and foremost. Make time for playing, even if therapy is vital work for both you and your kid. Even though certain activities don’t seem to be especially therapeutic or instructive, anything that helps your kid speak or interact socially is a good thing. In some cases, the more unlike these activities are from conventional treatment, the more pleasure both parents and children will have. For all children, regardless of developmental impairments, play is an essential aspect of learning.
- Keep an eye on your child’s sensory issues. Children with autism spectrum condition are often hypersensitive to a variety of stimuli, such as loud sounds, bright lights, particular types of touching, and specific tastes and odors. Some autistic youngsters, on the other hand, are “under-sensitive.” Work with your child’s therapist to figure out which triggers cause them to act out and which ones are easier for them to handle. Different stimuli are distressing or uncomfortable for each kid with ASD. Being aware of the types of stimuli that influence your kid can aid you in identifying and resolving issues, defusing potentially terrifying circumstances for your child, and ensuring that both of you have consistently pleasant experiences.
- Make a one-of-a-kind autism treatment plan. While no single plan will work for every child with autism, you can devise a system that capitalizes on your child’s interests, provides a predictable schedule, teaches tasks in a series of comprehensible steps, and employs highly structured activities to actively engage and maintain your child’s attention. If you do this on a regular basis, you’ll have developed an excellent system to help you deal with the issues of autism, as well as a method for your kid to use so that their limitations don’t completely restrict them. To do so, collaborate with your child’s therapist to figure out:
- The strengths and shortcomings of your kid.
- Which of your child’s actions is the most problematic?
- What are the most crucial skills for your kid to develop?
- Your child’s preferred method of learning (through seeing, doing, or listening).
- What your youngster likes to do.
It’s important to remember that, regardless of the treatment plan, a parent’s complete participation is critical to its success. You may increase your kid’s chances of getting the most out of therapy by working closely with the treatment team and your child.
This is also why your personal health is crucial. All of this is challenging job. Admitting you have a problem and asking for assistance are both important and crucial components of parenting a kid with autism. Parents cannot adequately care for their children unless they also look for themselves.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a treatment for autism.
Choosing the best therapy for your kid may be a difficult task. There are a variety of treatments that aim to reduce troublesome habits and promote beneficial ones in various ways.
Applied behavior analysis, or ABA, is one such approach. It’s been dubbed the autism treatment’s “gold standard.”
ABA is based on behaviorist treatment approaches, which use incentives and penalties to encourage clients to do desired actions. A board certified behavior analyst collaborates with registered behavior technicians to develop an ABA treatment plan.
When done correctly, applied behavior analysis treatment may help to reduce undesired behaviors like as outbursts and tantrums. Instead, the treatment teaches a kid to make requests with words or to wait their turn for what they desire. If a kid shares a toy with another child, for example, ABA will encourage such behavior.
Each week, your kid should get 25 to 40 hours of ABA treatment. These hours may be lowered as your kid masters tasks and acquires abilities that they can use on their own outside of treatment.
How ABA Can Assist
ABA treatment may include asking a kid to do a specific behavior, such as obeying a basic order. If the youngster follows the rules, they will be awarded. If they refuse to cooperate, they will not be paid, and the request will be repeated. A discrete trial is a method of evaluating a child’s needs and skills on the autism spectrum.
To identify the highest limit of what the youngster can perform, the trials are made progressively difficult.
Younger children get an application of applied behavior analysis that resembles play therapy, with the goal of encouraging good behaviors and redirecting bad ones. As the youngsters progress, they are directed into more real-world settings, where they may apply what they’ve learned in genuine social situations.
The goal of ABA is not to develop emotional skills. It can educate a youngster how to react to a welcome, but it can’t help the child feel an emotional connection with the person who is welcoming him or her.
Finally, ABA treatment will provide your kid with tools to help them deal with the obstacles of autism. The techniques learned in this treatment will assist your kid in achieving life success. The sooner you start this treatment, the better the benefits will be.
Other Treatment Options
To assist a child acquire a variety of talents that will serve them well in life, ABA is often used in combination with other forms of autism treatment, such as speech therapy and occupational therapy.
- Speech therapy: Children with autism often suffer with speech and language impairments, making it difficult for them to communicate properly. This treatment aids individuals in improving their verbal, nonverbal, and other types of social communication. Clients engage with therapists and technologists to improve physical strength, enunciation, voice tone, and body language.
- Occupational therapy: Children with autism work with therapists on a number of abilities, including physical, motor, social, and cognitive. The therapy’s ultimate goal is to provide children with the skills they need to operate successfully in daily life while also encouraging independence.
A Bigger Picture
Your child’s success may be built on the foundation of a strong treatment team. Children with autism may succeed in life, but they must get therapy as soon as possible. While it is never too late for a youngster to learn new abilities, the sooner they begin, the higher their chances of success in life will be.
The physicians and therapists who work with your kid will form the foundation of their treatment team. You’ll also collaborate with them as part of a team. The most critical degrees of understanding that assist build the therapy strategy are generally provided by parents.
While receiving a diagnosis of autism in a kid is surely life-changing for parents, keep in mind that your child has a bright future ahead of him or her. You can help your kid succeed by providing proper treatment and regular support.
The “parenting a child with high-functioning autism” is one of the most challenging tasks that parents face. This article will give you some tips on how to do it, as well as provide information about what autism looks like in children.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you do when your child is diagnosed with autism?
A: You need to find a treatment that works for your child, and then you will want to raise your awareness about what autism is.
How do parents feel when their child is diagnosed with autism?
A: Parents of children with autism feel a lot of different emotions. Many parents have seen the world in a more positive light since they are able to see their childs condition as something that has been given, rather than taken away from them. Others cant cope and experience feelings such as guilt or anger towards those who raise questions about vaccines while some people actually find peace and contentment when they realize it is Gods will for their children regardless of what happens.
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Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.