Explaining Autism To Strangers
This might be the most difficult thing you do some days. Whether its the rude lady in the grocery store talking about your childs meltdown, or a fellow mama in the park who asks why your child is stimming, you will often find yourself explaining autism to strangers. The first step? Taking a deep breath and trying to remember your life before you knew all about autism. You probably knew one or two autistic kids and thought that was an accurate representation of autism as a whole. You probably said things that you shouldnt have. Try to remember all of that and have patience.
Then, you need to determine how much is appropriate to share. If someone asks what youre child is doing, you can simply say oh, hes stimming. Its something that autistic people do when theyre excited and leave it at that. If its a mom at the playground who seems interested, feel free to go into more detail. Another thing to keep in mind is that you are not obligated to share with anyone. If someone is being rude about your child, telling them that your child is autistic isnt likely to change their behavior. You do not need to be a walking PSA for autism awareness/acceptance.
Explaining Autism To Young Siblings
For a variety of reasons, parents of young children who have a sibling with autism find it difficult to talk to their child without autism about the diagnosis. ;Some believe small children wont understand such a complex topic. Others worry that their child might become afraid of their sibling. Still other parents feel that such an explanation will call out their child with autism as being different. ;
Even young children need to understand how best to interact with their sibling with autism. ;Explaining behaviors that concern or frighten them can help reduce their fear and foster a more positive relationship. ;
Although you may be consumed with correcting the behavior of your child with autism, its important to take the time to explain to their sibling what is going on. ;Even something as simple as, John has trouble telling you he doesnt want to play can help Tim understand why John reacts the way that he does.
If Julie didnt know why John was having a tantrum she could explain to Tim, John cant tell us what is wrong and so we need to teach him what to do when he gets upset. ;Other things you might tell a preschool-aged child include, Rick doesnt use his voice to talk, he uses pictures instead. Or, Sarah doesnt know how to take turns yet, but we can work together to teach her.
Autistic People May Act In A Different Way To Other People
Autistic people may:
- find it hard to communicate and interact with other people
- find it hard to understand how other people think or feel
- find things like bright lights or loud noises overwhelming, stressful or uncomfortable
- get anxious or upset about unfamiliar situations and social events
- take longer to understand information
- do or think the same things over and over
If you think you or your child may be autistic, get advice about the signs of autism.
Also Check: What Is Occupational Therapy For Autism
How Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Play
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder tend to be less spontaneous than other kids. Unlike a typical curious little kid pointing to things that catch their eye, children with ASD often appear disinterested or unaware of whats going on around them. They also show differences in the way they play. They may have trouble with functional play, or using toys that have a basic intended use, such as toy tools or cooking set. They usually dont play make-believe, engage in group games, imitate others, collaborate, or use their toys in creative ways.
Explaining Autism In Simple Terms
In simple terms, autism occurs when a child has trouble communicating and understanding what people think and feel. This makes it very difficult for autistic children to respond to gestures, facial expressions, touch and even language.
Autism Spectrum Disorder could lead to;varying degrees of impairment in the patient ;ranging from mild or high functioning autism to the classical or;severe autism.
You May Like: Does Aba Therapy Work For Mild Autism
Applied Behaviour Analysis The Science Of Behaviour Applied To Autism
Simple Steps Autism is based on Applied Behaviour Analysis , the applied branch of a science called Behaviour Analysis, which is the science of behaviour. Each child with autism is different and the scientific methods used in ABA allow us to maximise each childs potential by allowing us to assess the effectiveness of how we teach and what we teach.ABA is NOT a therapy for autism. This is an extremely important starting point because often you will find that education and health authorities are not familiar with ABA and they describe it as, simply, one of a number of therapies for autism. This would be like saying Medical Science is only one of a number of treatments for illnesses.Like any other science, there is a need for extensive training at university level before you can call yourself a Behaviour Analyst, but Simple Steps Autism gives you the first steps to understanding how to use the science of ABA for autism and the first steps to becoming a parent-therapist with this self-help teaching tool.
Process The Diagnosis Yourself First
Although children with autism are often as successful as their peers with individualized treatment based on evidence-based practices, parents of newly diagnosed children often have many hurdles to overcome. Parents often report feeling blame and devastation after their child has been diagnosed with ASD, but also report eagerness in finding adequate supports for their child. After your child is diagnosed for the first time, it is perfectly normal to feel scared and worried about the future. You might now be wondering if your child will ever be able to live on their own or hold down a job. You also might be worried about kids being bullied or judged on the basis of their diagnosis. A million possible obstacles for their future might come to mind.;
Its important that you take some time in your own family to process the diagnosis and understand that it is not a debilitating or negative condition. Do some research and educate yourself about autism and its possible symptoms. Once you feel more comfortable with the diagnosis and the future yourself, you can decide what information you feel comfortable sharing with others. It is your decision on who and how many people you share the diagnosis with and everyones situations are different. So, take the time to decide what is best for your family.
Recommended Reading: What Causes Autism In Utero
How To Talk To Family And Friends About Your Childs Diagnosis
If your child has been newly diagnosed with autism, one thing that can be a challenge is telling your parents and extended family. Autism is something that more and more people are aware of, but theres still a lot of misinformation. The problems your child is having may not be visible to everyone in your family. But you need the people you are close to as allies in helping your child, so getting them on your team is important.
Focus on behaviors Using behaviors others might have noticed such as lack of eye contact, frequent meltdowns or inability to connect with other kids is one way to start explaining what autism is, and why your child was diagnosed.
Explain autism basics
Dont overwhelm them with information but make sure to tell them that:
- Your child has difficulty with social skills.
- Part of autism means your child has restricted or repetitive behaviors and interests.
- Autism is a neurodevelopmental disability.
- It is lifelong.
- We know it starts in utero.
- We know it is not produced by vaccines.
- Its not caused by bad parenting.
- Explain that autism is a spectrum of behaviors, and every autistic person is different
- Explain that having a diagnosis also means that your family is eligible for therapies and services, which can be transformative.
Your Child May Not Fit Their Image Of Autism
Explain that autism is a spectrum of behaviors, and every autistic person is different in terms of onset, severity, and types of symptoms. For instance, some are nonverbal, and some are hyper verbalthey talk your ear off, though they dont engage in the back-and-forth of conversation very well.
Psychologist Mandi Silverman, PsyD, notes, We often say that children with autism are like snowflakes, no two are the same. Just because one child with autism looks and sounds one way does not mean that another child will.
You May Like: What Does It Mean To Be Mildly Autistic
Who Tells/where To Tell
Certainly circumstances vary from family to family. If your child is asking questions dont put off answering them. You should be forthcoming and not suggest talking about it later. Not providing an answer could increase the childs anxiety and make the topic and information more mysterious.
For many families, using a knowledgeable professional to begin the disclosure process instead of a family member or a friend of the family might be the best option. Having a professional involved, at least in the beginning stages of disclosure, leaves the role of support and comfort to the family and those closest to the child. For someone with an autism spectrum disorder, ;it can be especially hard to seek comfort from someone who gives you news that can be troubling and confusing. Having a professional whose role is clearly to discuss information about the childs diagnosis and how the disability is affecting his/herlife can make it easier for family members to be seen by the child as supportive. The professional discussing information with the child about his/her disability can also help the parents understand the childs reaction and provide suggestions for supporting their child.; Having a professional involved also allows the use of a location outside of the family home for beginning this process.
Autism Borderline Or High Functioning Types
Usually, a lesser form of the autism syndrome is called borderline;Autism. A child diagnosed with borderline or mild autism displays many of the symptoms, though not at a similar frequency or severity. Borderline Autism symptoms include the inability to adapt or make transitions easily, mild lack of social as well as language skills, developmental and sensory issues. They may have a hard time showing empathy for another person or know how to regulate their own emotions. Just as any diagnosis on the autism spectrum; tests, screening, and observation will need to be conducted.
Read Also: When Did Autism First Start
How Can It Help
Only methods based on science should be used to educate children with autism.;Using ABA as an intervention for autism in children has shown significant results over the years from helping children successfully move into main stream education, improve social and communication skills, decreasing problem behaviours; and empowering parents to help their children and their families to live a happier life.
Carl’s Concerto / Too Much Of A Good Thing
Carl has agreed to play the accordion for Georges puppet show. But his routines are getting in the way of rehearsals. Now George must decide: keep Carl and risk the show, or replace Carl and risk his friendship? / Buster enlists Binkys help to keep him from gorging on delicious Tuvaluna cookies. Will Busters self-control hold … or crumble?
Don’t Miss: Is Delayed Speech A Sign Of Autism
Getting An Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis
The road to an ASD diagnosis can be difficult and time-consuming. In fact, it is often two to three years after the first symptoms of ASD are noticed before an official diagnosis is made. This is due in large part to concerns about labeling or incorrectly diagnosing the child. However, an ASD diagnosis can also be delayed if the doctor doesnt take a parents concerns seriously or if the family isnt referred to health care professionals who specialize in developmental disorders.
If youre worried that your child has ASD, its important to seek out a clinical diagnosis. But dont wait for that diagnosis to get your child into treatment. Early intervention during the preschool years will improve your childs chances for overcoming their developmental delays. So look into treatment options and try not to worry if youre still waiting on a definitive diagnosis. Putting a potential label on your kids problem is far less important than treating the symptoms.
Diagnosis Of Autism In Adults
It is not unusual for autistic people to have reached adulthood without a diagnosis.;
Sometimes people will read some information or see something about autism that makes them think That sounds like me. They may then choose to talk to a health professional for a diagnosis, or they may not.;
You may choose to seek an autism diagnosis if:
- you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition or intellectual disability during childhood or adolescence, but think that you may have autism
- you have struggled with feeling socially isolated and different
- your child or other family member has been diagnosed with autism and some of the characteristics of autism sound familiar to you.
If you wish to seek an assessment for autism, you can:
- talk to a psychologist with experience in the assessment and diagnosis of autism
- talk to your GP
- seek a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist with experience in the assessment and diagnosis of autism in adults from your GP.
A psychologist or psychiatrist with experience in the assessment and diagnosis of autism will ask you about your childhood, and experiences at school and as an adult. They may also do some psychological or psychiatric testing.
A speech pathologist may also be consulted to assess your social communication skills.
All of this information will be used to help make a diagnosis.
Recommended Reading: Is Next For Autism A Good Charity
Can Diet Have An Impact On Autism
Theres no specific diet designed for autistic people. Nevertheless, some autism advocates are exploring dietary changes as a way to help minimize behavioral issues and increase overall quality of life.
An autism diet may instead focus on whole foods, such as:
Those advocates believe that gluten creates inflammation and adverse bodily reactions in certain autistic people. However, scientific research is inconclusive on the relationship between autism, gluten, and another protein known as casein.
Pbs Kids And Autism Awareness
PBS Kids has been a leader in autism awareness, developing original programming for television, web, and mobile platforms. Learn about the children’s program and find links to games for kids and;companion resources for parents and educators.
PBS Kids has been a leader in autism awareness, developing online and mobile resources for families and children as well as original television programming designed to make kids with autism visible, celebrate their strengths and not just their challenges, and build acceptance.
Don’t Miss: Is Autism On The Rise
Repetitive And Restrictive Behaviour
With its unwritten rules, the world can seem a very unpredictable and confusing place to autistic people. This is why they often;prefer to have;routines;so that they know what is going to happen. They may want to travel the same way to and from school or work, wear the same clothes or eat exactly the same food for breakfast.;
Autistic people may also repeat movements;such as hand flapping, rocking or the repetitive use of an object such as twirling a pen or opening and closing a door. Autistic people often engage in these behaviours to help calm themselves when they are stressed or anxious, but many autistic people do it because they find it enjoyable.;
Change to routine can also be very distressing for autistic people and make them very anxious. It could be having to adjust to big events like Christmas or changing schools, facing uncertainty at work, or something simpler like;a bus detour;that can trigger their anxiety.;
Wandering In Children On The Spectrum
The tendency of children on the spectrum to wander off impulsively is a huge safety issue. Wandering off without warning also known as elopement or bolting can have tragic results, as children attracted to water have drowned. The behavior is in part attributed to an impaired sense of danger, which might inhibit a neurotypical child from leaving caregivers. Other explanations for bolting range from goal-directed to escaping a stressor .
In a survey, more than 800 parents reported that roughly 50 percent of children between the ages of 4 and 10 with an ASD wander at some point, four times more than their unaffected siblings. The behavior peaks at 4, but almost 30 percent of kids with an ASD between the ages of 7 and 10 are still eloping, eight times more than their unaffected brothers and sisters.
You May Like: Is It Possible To Have Autism And Schizophrenia
Medication For Children On The Autism Spectrum
There is no medication for the symptoms of autism. But children on the spectrum may take medication that is aimed at curbing aggression or other problematic or dangerous behavior. And kids on the spectrum may take medication for other disorders that they may have, including anxiety, depression or ADHD. Any doctor prescribing medication should do so carefully, but this is particularly important for children who may have multiple diagnoses.
Medication for behavior problems
Risperdal is a medication thats widely used to treat children who are aggressive or excessively irritable. Risperdal can successfully calm down kids with severe behavior problems, enabling them to function in school and within their families. The FDA has approved it for that use. Without it, some children would require residential treatment.
Its important to know that Risperdal has side effects that include substantial weight gain and metabolic, neurological and hormonal changes that can be harmful. Without effective monitoring by a professional, some children experience irreversible damage. Some experts are concerned that children are being treated with this medication in lieu of other treatment including behavioral treatment that could be effective without the risk of these side effects.