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Physical StressChronic stress can make parents of children with autism more vulnerable to cardiovascular, immune system, and gastrointestinal issues. One study found that they are more likely to have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol and a biomarker known as CRP, which has been linked to a variety of physical illnesses. Caregivers may also suffer from increased fatigue or struggle with insomnia, especially if their child also struggles with sleep.
Social StressMuch of the general public is uneducated about autism spectrum disorder, and people may blame or shame a parent when they misunderstand a childs behaviors. This can create a stigma that can lead to parents feeling socially isolated. They might begin to avoid public gatherings or spending time with friends and family. Parents of children with autism may also be more likely to experience marital stress.
Financial StressSome research has found that parents of children with autism may earn less money or have to work fewer hours than other parents. Caregivers may also face additional expenses such as therapy, medical expenses, and child care that put an additional financial burden on the family. Some parents are even at risk of losing their jobs if they have to frequently take off work to care for their child.
Make Them Feel Safe And Loved
Sometimes our children are so lost in their emotions that they cant hear us. In these situations, all we need to do is simply sit with or be near them.
Many times, we try to talk them down from their panic, but its often a waste of breath when a child is in the throes of a meltdown.
What we can do is let them know that theyre safe and loved. We do this by staying as near to them as theyre comfortable with.
Ive lost track of the times that Ive witnessed a crying child be told that they can only come out of a secluded space once they stop melting down.
This can send the message to the child that they dont deserve to be around the people that love them when theyre having a hard time. Obviously, this isnt our intended message to our kids.
So, we can show them were there for them by staying close.
Prioritize Independence And Communication
After baseline medical needs are met and you figure out how to deal with the everyday, I recommend that parents pay particular attention to the areas of communication, self-help and socially appropriate skills. A child who has a high academic ability, but poor communication skills, hygiene or a proclivity to hurt others will greatly limit their opportunities.
Nicole Sugrue, Port Washington, New York
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We Know Best When It Comes To Our Autistic Children
All parents know their own children best, but this statement is especially true of parents of children on the Autism Spectrum. Most parents of autistic children have spent countless hours researching and consulting with doctors. They know their childrens ticks and the best ways to avoid meltdowns. Autism Speaks advises other parents keep the unsolicited parenting advice to themselves, saying, Do ask the family whether theres something you can do to help, but he prepared for a no.
Autism And Sensory Processing
It is estimated that at least 80% of children with autism have some type of sensory processing disorder. Sensory processing involves taking in information from the environment, processing that information, and then meaningfully responding to the information.
Imagine you are in a classroom and someone calls your name. You are able to hear your name being called, recognize that its your name, and then respond as you feel it is appropriate. For children with a sensory processing disorder, this process is interrupted in some way within the brain.
For many children with autism, stimuli within the environment is over-processed or processed more intensely than it is for typically developing children. This is why many children with autism experience sensory sensitivities. They may be sensitive to any type of environmental stimuli, but some of the most common include loud noises, bright lights, crowded or busy places, etc.
To better understand how anger is related to sensory processing, lets consider the analogy of filling an empty cup.
In order to address sensory processing concerns, it is best to visit with an occupational therapist, who can work with each individual child to develop a unique sensory diet. A sensory diet is an individualized plan that outlines a childs sensory needs and ways to get needed input. A sensory diet might include things such as:
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Tips For Auditory Learners
While many children with autism learn visually, some are strong auditory learners or have visual processing problems. If you are working with a child who learns by hearing, try some of these tips for using the worksheets:
- Read all text out loud.
- Describe the pictures in words.
- Verbally ask the child questions about the worksheets.
- Use vocabulary with which the child is comfortable.
- Allow time for the child to process this auditory information.
Awkward Interactions With Peers
Even children with high-functioning autism display problems when interacting with peers. Adults working closely with kids may notice this through their play behaviors.
These children have major deficits in communicating with those outside their limited social circle. This makes it difficult for them to form new relationships.
For toddlers, it might be that they have a problem with sharing toys. For teens, it might be difficulty completing group work assignments. This presents a challenge for peers who dont quite understand the person with autism. And when the autistic person cant explain these feelings, it intensifies the awkwardness.
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When Your Child Has Autism
There are many things parents can do to help children with ASD to overcome their challenges. But it is also important to ensure you get the support you need.
Learn about autism The more you know about ASD, the better equipped you will be to make informed decisions for your child. Learn about the treatment options, you can ask questions.
Become an expert on your child Find out what triggers your childs challenging or disruptive behaviors. If you understand what affects your child, you will be better at preventing situations or troubleshooting problems that cause trouble or difficulties.
Accept your child, quirks, etc. Instead of focusing on how your autistic kid is different from other children and what he or she is missing, practice acceptance. Enjoy your childs quirks, stop comparing them to other children, and celebrate their small successes.
Do not give up It is impossible to predict the course of ASD. Do not jump to conclusions about how life is going for your child. Just like everyone, people with autism have an entire lifetime to grow and develop their abilities.
Medical Causes For Autism
Its not unusual for medical problems to be overlooked in kids with autism, especially those who are nonverbal. When evaluating your childs behaviors, its crucial to consider that some may actually be reactions to pain or discomfort from treatable medical or dental conditions that may have gone unrecognized. Kids with ASD may not be able identify or articulate the source of the pain or discomfort they are experiencing effectively.
Here are some commonly misinterpreted behaviors that may have medical causes:
- Gulping or grimacing
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Timing Matters With Discipline
There should be no waiting for the other spouse to get home to deal with the problem or to reprimand bad behavior, as the child may be confused when they are being punished long after the event took place.
Timing is essential.
However, it is important that both parents be equally involved in using discipline so that the child does not learn to act up in front of the parent that is known to pass the buck when these things happen.
Autism Meltdown Strategies For Children
Youve heard the saying: When youve met a child with autism, youve met one child with autism.
Because every autistic child presents differently, with varied skills, levels of relatedness, communication, and sensory processing profiles, it is impossible to have a one-solution-fits-all approach to managing meltdowns.
The following are some tips and strategies that have helped other parents, but you will have to consider these in terms of your individual childs needs.
Wed all like to avoid meltdowns completely, but thats not possible. Instead, some parents find it helpful to put strategies in place to minimize the stress and anxiety of daily life that may contribute to a meltdown. This is typically referred to as a sensory diet and can be beneficial in preventing and managing autism meltdowns.
Some common ones that support regulation across the day:
- Visual schedules
- Check off lists
- Activity or task schedules
- Routine sensory diet activities, for example, using a weighted blanket during sleep, engaging in deep pressure activities at certain times in the daily routine, etc.
Some parents find it helpful to schedule quiet time for their child, in order to allow for the downtime proactively before the activity of the day gets to be too much. Building in a surprise or question mark to visual schedules helps to shape behavioral responses to unexpected changes in routines that are often stressful.
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Development Of Repetitive Or Restrictive Habits
Repetitive habits are another sign of high-functioning autism. Those habits could interfere with the persons ability to do what they need to do or what others want them to do. One type of repetitive habit might be related to movement. The individual might have to tie and untie their shoes multiple times before they are satisfied and are able to start walking or leave the house. Some people develop restrictive habits that interfere with socially accepted living. For example, an individual might refuse to wear any other kind of shirt than a tee shirt. This could impact their health and well-being if they live in a place with cold weather.
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How To Calm Down An Autistic Child During A Meltdown
A meltdown is generally a reaction by the individual as they are overwhelmed. The first thing in learning how to calm an autistic child is to identify what is actually overwhelming for them.
By identifying the trigger, the meltdowns could be prevented later on. Keep a diary to see if meltdowns occur at particular times or places.However, there are also things to try while the autistic child is having a meltdown to calm them down. Here are some tips and strategies:
Do Not Wait For Diagnosis
As the parent of a child with ASD, the best thing you can do is to start your treatment right away. Dont wait for an official diagnosis of autism. Seek help as soon as you suspect any difficulty. The earlier the child with ASD get help, the greater their chance of treatment of success.
Early medication is the most effective way to speed up your kids development and reduce the symptoms of autism over the lifespan.
Thats all in this article. If your childs behavioral crises continue to be a problem, I urge you to consult a therapist who can customize a plan to improve your kids behavior. Or if you didnt find any, you may also consult our experts by giving us a call on our toll-free +91-9899437202.
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When Your Child Gets Physical Talk To Them Truthfully About The Consequences
When rage leads to physical violence, its time to talk with your child about the possible consequences of their behavior. You should not ignore this type of behavior. Even a small child can inflict serious harm to others in the midst of rage, but this child will someday be much bigger, and this could become a serious safety issue.
Let your child know that this type of behavior wont be tolerated and that people who do such things may have to go to a juvenile detention center or a jail. Be honest with your child about what you expect of them and seek the guidance of a professional if you need help.
In an emergency, if you cant handle the situation and are in fear of someone being hurt, call 911.
Expert Advice And Steps Can You Take Today To Help Reduce The Stress Of Caring For A Child With Autism Learn More
A day in the life of a caregiver of a child with autism spectrum disorder can include any number of challenges and stressors. A caregiver might be driving their child to various appointments, advocating for the childs educational needs, helping their child avoid sensory overload, or dealing with an unexpected tantrum in public. At the end of this long day, they may even be discouraged to find that their child is unable to sleep, keeping the caregiver from getting the rest they need.
Though parents of children with autism face many unique challenges, they are not necessarily doomed to a life of stress. Research has shown that caregivers who engage their support systems and actively solve problems experience much less stress than those who disengage or cope in unhealthy ways. Its no secret that a less-stressed caregiver is much more likely to raise a well-adjusted and less anxious child.
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Encourage Your Child To Develop Socially Appropriate Behavior
One of the best ways to help your child understand what appropriate behavior is, is to avoid criticism. Instead, find something positive to reward and praise your child for. This could be something as simple as the way your child is playing with their toys. The behavior you reward is what your child is most likely to repeat.
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Clear Rules About Behaviour
Rules are positive statements that let children know how theyre expected to behave and what your family limits are.
The rule might be that your child cant play in the morning until theyre ready for school for example, First get ready, then have playtime. You could use a visual support like a timer to show your child how long there is until you need to leave for school. When your child has finished getting ready, they can play for the time left on the timer. If the timer has finished, theres no time to play.
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Celebrate All Of Your Childs Achievements
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
How To Identify Triggers
Begin by gathering information on events that cause defiance. Compile a notebook and properly assess each situation. Make note of:
- When the defiance occurred
- Whether your toddler engaged in any other behavior before he became defiant
- Who was present when the behavior took place
- Whether anyone said or did something that may have sparked the behavior
Through close attention to such details, you will understand and be able to block the conduct by ensuring the combination of circumstances does not re-occur.
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How Videomodeling Works
Children with ASD have selective focus, so a parent needs to direct the toddler to what is relevant. By showing the target behavior on video, your child learns to model what he sees. Through the use of videos, he copies non-defiant, appropriate conduct and calls upon that knowledge when introduced to a fresh situation, such as mother and toddler groups, visits to friends, public transport, or family vacations.
Take time to make your own videos whenever possible. However, Watch Me Learn provides a catalogue of videos you can rent or buy, along with instructions on how to use the videos and a downloadable ABA Watch TV Program. They are suitable for toddlers and young children.
Instruct Us But Nicely
Are we offending you? Tell us. People with autism may experience avalanche-style misunderstandings. This hinders the formation and maintenance of lasting relationships, and can make for a very lonely life.
For us, cultivating social skills is imperative to bridging the gap of misunderstandings. We arent born with these skills, and some of us werent properly educated on social etiquette or coping mechanisms. Not knowing that stuff instinctively makes forming connections more difficult.
When were processing social cues, we might miss something and accidentally say something that comes off as stupid, mean, or offensive. Without those physical emotional cues to guide our response, were left with just the words, sometimes making it an awkward experience for a neurotypical.
To demonstrate the difficulties this imposes, try closing your eyes the next time somebody is talking to you. Itll give you an idea of how much were missing out on. Its believed that over half of all communication is nonverbal. If youre the neurotypical in the conversation, its your responsibility to make sure youre clear in your meaning. Letting us know if weve offended you will get an apology from us a lot faster than making an offended face at us.
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