Wednesday, April 17, 2024

How Can I Help My Autistic Grandson

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Signs And Symptoms Of Autism In Babies And Toddlers

Adults accused of ignoring beating of special needs child

If autism is caught in infancy, treatment can take full advantage of the young brains remarkable plasticity. Although autism is hard to diagnose before 24 months, symptoms often surface between 12 and 18 months. If signs are detected by 18 months of age, intensive treatment may help to rewire the brain and reverse the symptoms.

The earliest signs of autism involve the absence of typical behaviorsnot the presence of atypical onesso they can be tough to spot. In some cases, the earliest symptoms of autism are even misinterpreted as signs of a good baby, since the infant may seem quiet, independent, and undemanding. However, you can catch warning signs early if you know what to look for.

Some autistic infants dont respond to cuddling, reach out to be picked up, or look at their mothers when being fed.

Learn As Much As Possible About Autism

There are many excellent resources on the market. The goal should be to increase understanding of the childs communication, social and behavioral presentation NOT to find a cure. Information on how children with autism see the world and how they learn will do wonders for helping you to connect with your grandchild. One of my parents favourites is Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin.

What Parents Of Children With Autism Can Do:

  • Sleep disorders are common among children with autism. Keeping a consistent nighttime routine will aid in sleep. If sleep disruption continues to be a problem, check with your physician for recommended medication or other treatment.
  • Use short sentences when communicating with your child. Children with autism often have cognitive impairments as well. Though many on the spectrum have higher than average intelligence, word processing can be a challenge. When giving instructions, do so one at a time. Processing several expectations at once can be difficult for most children with autism.
  • Keep a consistent schedule throughout the day. If changes are needed, or if the routine is disrupted, try to prepare your child in advance either with practice or with repetition.
  • Providing a shadow or a buddy was particularly helpful for Andrew. Many school programs now provide this service. Talk with your special education coordinator to explore options.
  • Recommended Reading: Autism And Adhd Symptoms

    Offer Support And Listen

    Support your children in their efforts to come to terms with and negotiate this challenging path. Listen, affirm and avoid offering quick judgments and /or solutions. What parents need most is to be supported and to feel affirmed that they are good parents and they will be able to cope they are not alone.

    Respect The Expectations And Limits That Parents Set Up

    Autism ISupportMy Grandson Yard Sign by gifts4awareness

    Raising a child with autism demands a structure and routine that is essential for the childs peace of mind. Follow dietary restrictions, bedtimes, routines and communication guidelines that the parents set. People with autism may have trouble coping with changes in routine, food, sleeping arrangements, toileting, etc when they are in your home. This is not because they are behaving poorly. This IS NOT a discipline issue. It is an autism issue and it needs to be treated as such.

    Also Check: How Can You Tell If An Infant Has Autism

    Autism Explained For Grandparents

    It seems a bit unnecessary that anyone should have to explain autism to the grandparents. When you think about it, they both share similar traits. Youve got the struggle to keep opinions to themselves, the distaste for anything new, and the comfortability in wearing anything new. Yet, grandparents and autistic grandchildren can often struggle to see eye to eye.

    This doesnt have to be the case though as a proper explanation can go a long way. Just because your loved one may come from a generation that still sees purpose in answerphones, this doesnt mean they will be totally oblivious to all modern concepts, like the neurodiverse mind. When explaining autism to the grandparents, it would be best to do two things.

    Understanding Your Child With Autism

    Similar to Alzheimers patients, Andrew experienced what we termed sundown syndrome the two hours before bedtime, especially during the winter months. Low keyed and low-energy activity during this time proved helpful. Understanding this time period where Andrews coping was severely challenged, we avoided anything confrontational. We did try to minimize his computer time and television time.

    Keeping a routine on non-school days did present problems and challenges. Andrew enjoyed church activities, and our church leaders were very supportive. On Saturdays, Andrew was allowed to spend more time at the sports club.

    Also Check: Adhd Symptoms In Adult Women

    What Age Do Autistic Children Talk

    Autistic children with verbal communication generally hit language milestones later than children with typical development.

    While typically developing children produce their first words between 12 and 18 months old, autistic children were found to do so at an average of 36 months.Since each autistic child is unique in their development, the age when they produce their first words differs.

    Until recently, parents and caregivers of children with autism were made to believe that their child would not speak ever if they did not do so by the time they turn 4 or five.

    However, a recent study showed that most of the children participating in the study acquired language skills, and almost half of them became fluent speakers. More than 70% could speak in simple phrases. This indicates that language-delayed children with autism could eventually develop speech.

    It’s Ok To Be Sad About Your Child’s Autism Diagnosis

    Getting Your Autistic Child to Talk

    “I get really sad when I think of the ‘normal’ childhood my kids have missed. I have no tolerance for parents who complain about having to drive their kids to ballet and soccer and all of their other activities. I wanted to be that mom, and I always envisioned my life would be that way. But now I realize how blessed I am to avoid dealing with drinking, drugs, promiscuousness, social-media bullying and all the other typical teenager problems.”

    Alicia Hardigree, Greenville, South Carolina

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    Break Out Your Sensory Toolkit

    Keep a few sensory tools or toys in your car or bag. You can offer these to your kid when their mind is overwhelmed.

    Kids have different favorites, but some common sensory tools include weighted lap pads, noise-cancelling headphones, sunglasses, and fidget toys.

    Dont force these on your child when theyre melting down, but if they choose to use them, these products can often help them calm down.

    Breaking Through The Barriers Of Asd

    ASD has no cure. But there is hope through treatment. Many children can learn to communicate and interact. Healthcare providers and mental health experts have learned a lot about how to break through to these children.

    Here are some things we know about children with an ASD:

    • They may not be able to understand your nonverbal communications. They may not react to your smile or frown.

    • They take things literally. You need to be careful to say exactly what you mean. If you hurry the child by saying “Step on it,” don’t be surprised if he or she asks what to step on.

    • They may only be able to handle one thought or idea at a time. Keep conversations focused and simple.

    • They may want to only talk about the one thing they are really interested in at a given time.

    • They may see things differently than you do. You may not even notice ordinary sounds, tastes, touches, smells, and sights. But these may be physically painful to the child.

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    Accept Your Grandchilds Truth

    When my son was initially diagnosed with autism, my father had difficulty accepting the news. I felt torn between the experts I trusted and the parent I respected. My father has come fully on board in the years since, and Im so grateful. But it took me a lot of work to get him there. Trust that your son or daughter has likely done grueling hours of research and consulted multiple experts to get your grandchild an autism diagnosis. Also know, the diagnosis doesnt change your grandchild. They are the same child before the diagnosis as after. The diagnosis is like a guide that provides the tools their support system needs to help your grandchild become the best version of themselves possible.

    Celebrate All Of Your Childs Achievements

    Supporting My Grandson Autism Awareness T Shirt â Tee Peeze

    I wish I had known that unlike other parents we cant take even the smallest achievement or milestone for granted. When our son started wearing his coat without a fight and expressed that he was cold, when he was able to participate in circle time during music class and when he got up on stage with the other kids at his school show we celebrated.

    Steven Grossman, Los Angeles

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    Here Are Our Top Seven Strategies For Promoting Language Development In Nonverbal Children And Adolescents With Autism:

  • Encourage play and social interaction. Children learn through play, and that includes learning language. Interactive play provides enjoyable opportunities for you and your child to communicate. Try a variety of games to find those your child enjoys. Also try playful activities that promote social interaction. Examples include singing, reciting nursery rhymes and gentle roughhousing. During your interactions, position yourself in front of your child and close to eye level so its easier for your child to see and hear you.
  • Imitate your child. Mimicking your childs sounds and play behaviors will encourage more vocalizing and interaction. It also encourages your child to copy you and take turns. Make sure you imitate how your child is playing so long as its a positive behavior. For example, when your child rolls a car, you roll a car. If he or she crashes the car, you crash yours too. But dont imitate throwing the car!
  • Leave space for your child to talk. Its natural to feel the urge to fill in language when a child doesnt immediately respond. But its so important to give your child lots of opportunities to communicate, even if he isnt talking. When you ask a question or see that your child wants something, pause for several seconds while looking at him expectantly. Watch for any sound or body movement and respond promptly. The promptness of your response helps your child feel the power of communication.
  • Spend Time With The Siblings Of The Child With Autism

    Provide care for the child with autism so that parents and typical children can reconnect! So often, life at home is centered on the child with special needs that siblings can get lost in the shuffle. Special days away or planned activities give siblings the relief that they need from a busy household. Our other children need to know that it is healthy to take a break from caring for a person that needs a lot from us.

    Recommended Reading: How To Get My Child Tested For Autism

    What Does The Future Look Like For Nonverbal Children

    Nonverbal children with autism could have a comfortable and quality life. It is important that with the right help, they could equip themselves with the necessary skills to live their life normally.

    Although nonverbal, children with autism use other methods to communicate. Certain strategies, which we will discuss here, could be used to leverage these methods and add on to them.

    Not being able to speak to communicate should not be seen as a setback, but as a challenge that could be overcome. Although there is no magic cure to achieve speech, your child could go a long way with your support.

    Once they understand and learn a way to express what they are feeling, be it verbal or nonverbal, they will have a more positive attitude towards communication.

    How Do I Discipline A Child With Autism And Adhd

    I Built A Hug Machine For My Autistic Grandson | Invented

    Children with autism respond to clear, short directives in the moment. Help set them up for success by praising desired behaviors, establishing regular routines, and avoiding tantrum-triggering environments. These techniques, which avoid harsh discipline, work well with children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder , tooand all kids, generally.

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    One: Embracing The New Normal

    I know you want to help because you are reading this. You want to find a way to ease the pain. Your adult children need you. You cannot cure the autism or somehow make it disappear, even though you would love to, but you play a role that is critical and you have the power to make life more manageable for your children and your grandchild or you can undermine their challenges and exacerbate an already fragile situation.

    Autism cannot be cured, but time will show that it is not a death sentence. Life will find a new kind of normal and life will take on new meaning. There are therapies, education programs, and dietary considerations that will make life much more controllable for a person with autism.

    Give The Parents Some Time Off

    Offer to spend time with the children or provide the financial means to have the parents have time on their own. Dont wait to be asked. Your childs marriage and mental health need as much attention as does your grandchild. It is an investment for the whole family when you provide the regular opportunity for relief.

    • Gift certificates for movies, dinner, spa, and fitness clubs are a way to force a parent to take time for him or her self. Most parents will never quite get around to taking care of themselves. A homemade meal or a house cleaning can go a long way to easing stress. Take care of your child so they can care for your grandchild.

    Read Also: Can You Develop Autism As An Adult

    How Grandparents Can Support Their Autistic Grandchild

    Grandparents can have a unique role in the lives of their grandchild with Autism Spectrum Disorder . They can be a source of support, guidance, connection, encouragement, and love.

    According to Autism Speaks, about 30% of grandparents were the first to notice that there was a problem with their grandchilds development. Nearly 90% felt that the experience of facing their grandchilds situation together had brought them and their adult child closer. 72% of grandparents said they play some role in making treatment decisions for their grandchild. More than 7% said they had combined households with their grandchilds family so they could help them manage all thats involved in raising a child with autism, while 14% had moved closer for the same reason. Over 34% said they take care of their grandchild at least once a week and about one in five grandparents indicated that they provide regular transportation for the child. About 6% of grandparents said that a family situation had become so untenable they had taken on the role of parent.

    As a grandmother of a grandson with autism, whom I raised for the first six years of his life, and again care for now in his teenage years, I learned that having that supportive role in his life, both as a full-time and a part-time caregiver, made a big difference not only for him but for the whole family.

    Here are some things I learned along the way


    1. Learn All You Can2. Support the Parents3. Help If You Can

    Tips For Interacting Positively With Children On The Autism Spectrum

    Supporting My Grandson Autism Awareness T Shirt â Tee Peeze

    As a parent you hope not only that your child will do well in class, but also that they’ll get along well with others and fit in. But imagine if you were the parent of a child with a disability that may not be immediately recognizable. You’d want people to understand and be kind.

    Children with autism often attend mainstream schools, but it might be difficult to identify them by sight. You might notice they communicate differently or act differently and wonder how to interact with them and include them.

    “Just because children with autism communicate differently doesn’t mean they should be ignored,” says speech-language pathologist Erin McQuivey, MS, CCC-SLP, who works with children with autism as a manager at Primary Children’s Outpatient Rehabilitation at Intermountain Riverton Hospital in Riverton, Utah.

    “Children with autism can communicate in a lot of different ways. They may use words, facial expressions, gestures, emotions, and even assistive technology,” she adds. “We should honor all these methods as meaningful communication. It’s their way to build relationships, ake requests, and comment. We should recognize the communication methods they’re comfortable with.”

    Read Also: Can Moderate Autism Be Cured

    Meet Your Son Or Daughter Were They Are

    As a grandparent, your role is to support your son or daughter as they parent their child. Sometimes this means offering advice sometimes it means stepping back. If your son or daughter has fully embraced their childs autism, follow their lead. If they are still struggling with the diagnosis, try offering encouraging, kind words as they evolve into this new world. In some cases, the grandparents often suspect their grandchild may be autistic, and the parents may be skeptical. If that is your situation, then tread carefully imposing your opinions. Rather, offer unlimited love and support, an open, non-judgmental listening ear, and more than likely, your son or daughter will come to the realization on their own.

    Final Thoughts On Hope And Help For Parents Of Children With Autism

    The challenges parents face in caring for their child with autism can be overwhelming. They are exhausted, and sometimes they feel attacked when the system fails to meet their specific needs. Sometimes parents are so focused on trying to fix the problems associated with their child with autism, they forget to zero in on how unique and special their child is in Gods eyes. When the parent can view their child as a gift from God, the aches and pains of caring for that child seem less of a burden and more of a privilege.

    The author of I Prayed for Patience/God Gave Me Children, Linda Wood Rondeaus writing is inspired not only from her personal experiences as a mom and grandmother, some with special needs, but also from her nearly thirty years in the human services field. Linda and her husband, Steve, reside in Hagerstown, Maryland, where both are active in their local church. Learn more about Linda by visiting

    If you liked this article and would like to go deeper, we have some helpful resources below.

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