Four Legs And Fur May Change Your Child’s World And Give You Hope
“We were on an endless search for that one thing that was going to make the difference for our son … and then we adopted Xena, a severely abused and neglected puppy. The moment my son and Xena met, there was an immediate and undeniable bond. He spoke freely to her he sang to her he played with her. They were inseparable. We spent years and thousands of dollars on therapy hoping to accomplish what this dog was able to attain instantly. My son finally had a relationship where there was no judgment or expectations placed on him, but there was a friendship that allowed him to let it all go, open up and be himself. I am not saying that all families living with autism should have a dog, but I will say that miracles do come true, and your miracle may be at your local shelter waiting for you.”
Linda Hickey, Johns Creek, Georgia
Things Parents Of Children On The Autism Spectrum Want You To Know
It is estimated that one in 68 children are now diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum disorder, and yet, this diagnosis remains as misunderstood as ever. We simply do not live in a society that is accommodating or even accepting of those who are not neurotypical. Fortunately, parents of autistic children are wonderful at communicating who their children are and why. Below are 30 things those parents of children on the Autism Spectrum want you to know.
Teach Coping Skills And Calming Strategies
Children with autism absolutely need to be taught coping skills and calming strategies for when they are feeling frustrated, anxious, or are having sensory overload. For lower-level ASD students, they may need assistance with using these strategies and wont be able to do them independently. It is not uncommon for children with autism to seem anxious, fidget, or even have a meltdown. Providing physical and emotional tools to help calm the body and mind are important during times of stress or sensory overload.
Examples of these include providing a weighted blanket, a bouncy seat, a fidget or other sensory toy to play with, turning the lights down, playing soft music, giving noise-cancelling headphones to wear, allowing the student to use a sensory room or go to a calm space in the classroom, practicing deep breathing and stretching, counting backward, tapping, etc. Each child will have his or her own preferences and what is used will also depend upon the situation. A SPED teacher and a parent of a child with autism should have a toolbox full of calming strategies handy.
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How Do I Discipline A Child With Autism And Adhd
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.
Autism Meltdowns Come From Overwhelm Or Overstimulation
Next, lets answer the question. What is an autism meltdown? A meltdown is when the child loses control over his behavior and can only be calmed down by a parent, or when he reaches the point of exhaustion. These will sometimes be referred to as autism outbursts, but we will refer to it solely as an autism meltdown in this article.
Meltdowns are reactions to feeling overwhelmed and are often seen as a result of sensory overstimulation. Tantrums can lead to meltdowns, so it can be hard to tell the difference between the two outbursts if youre not attuned to your childs sensory signals.
For more information on sensory processing, check out Harklas article here.
When a person with autism experiences too much sensory stimulation, their central nervous system is overwhelmed and unable to process all of the input. Its a physiological “traffic jam” in your central nervous system and the sensory overstimulation is not unlike a maladaptive response to an actual traffic jam.
Weve all had the experience of happily driving to our destination, cruising down the highway singing along to our favorite song, when all of a sudden traffic comes to a dead stop. Now, instead of comfortably cruising , youre at a standstill surrounded by imposing big trucks, offensive exhaust fumes, blaring horns, and the blazing hot sun peeking through your windows.
The last thing you want is to be stuck in your car in that traffic jam – you want out!
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Stay Calm When Interacting With The Child
If you are regularly having trouble staying calm, you may benefit from talking to a friend, family member, or therapist for support. Do not take it out on your child. Yelling and threatening will not make behavior better. It may stop the behavior in the short-term, but the behaviors will occur again. You may actually make the behaviors worse because the child may start to feel anxious, scared, angry, embarrassed, or sad. Children with autism are not choosing to act in a way that is frustrating to you or anyone else. They legitimately need positive support from you to help them meet their emotional/behavioral needs.
Finally, it is important to recognize that some children on the autism spectrum have trouble generalizing expectations across situations, so the same strategies may need to be used in situations that are similar to one another.
Keep in Mind: If you are using these strategies for the first time, you may not see change as quickly as you d like. Your child/student will not be used to your new techniques and may even push harder due to the sudden change in your behavior. I know it is hard but be patient and keep implementing these strategies with consistency.
Here are some options for how you can create pictures to use with children with language difficulties:
If you work in a school, they may already have a laminator for you to use. If you are a parent, you can also try asking your childs school if they can help you laminate some pictures for an at home schedule.
If The Child Seems Over Stimulated From Sensory Input Such As In A Large Crowd Bring Him To A Quieter Place To De
Be mindful of situations where your child might feel overwhelmed before you take him there .
There are also strategies to create an environment that helps a child with autism feel less overwhelmed by sensory input. See How to Set Up the Classroom for Children with Autism and ADHD which includes strategies that can be used at home as well.
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How To Stop Your Child With Autism From Biting
There are quite a few reasons behind why children with special needs bite. Luckily, most reasons can be improved with the same set of solutions.
Praise Incompatible Behaviors
Your child wont be able to bite someone if theyre using their mouth for something else, and thats just what incompatible behaviors are. With this method, you can try to give your child a task to complete with their mouth, and give them praise while theyre completing it.
Here are some behaviors that are not compatible with biting:
- Having a snack
- Chewing gum
- Praise your child with Autism for biting an appropriate object
If Your Autistic Kid Is Biting Try To Keep Them Busy
Another way to help your child refrain from biting is to keep them busy on a predictable schedule. This method works well if your child is biting out of boredom, or if they are biting out of frustration that could be improved with a bit more predictability.
Here are some ways to help your child stay on a schedule:
- Create a visual schedule, so your child can see what is coming next
- Provide activities that help your child meet their sensory needs
If Your Child with Autism is Biting: Try to Avoid Over-stimulation
Avoiding over-stimulation goes back to the communication-related reason for biting. Over-stimulation is common in children with Autism, and if they are not able to communicate how theyre feeling with you, it can also lead to aggressive behavior such as biting.
How To Use Video
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How To Teach An Autistic Child To Talk
Although there is no cure for autism, there are therapies and interventions that help the individual to be able to communicate.
It is important to remember that each child is unique. One effort that works with one child may not be helpful for another. In addition, although a child with autism can learn to communicate, this may not alway be through spoken language.
Nonverbal autistic individuals can have and live fulfilling and comfortable lives with the help of therapies and assistance.
Here are some of the treatment options for nonverbal autistic individuals:
Medicine: There is no medicine that will specifically cure autism. However, certain medication could help alleviate related symptoms and conditions. The child could have anxiety or depression, and medication could help with these.
Counselling: Counseling parents and caregivers as well as the siblings of the individual with autism could really benefit from therapy. Through counseling, they can learn how to approach the situation to achieve positive outcomes and to cope with the challenges of nonverbal autism.
Education: Children with autism respond really well to structured sessions. These sessions could help them develop skills and behaviors that will be beneficial in communication. They can gain social and language skills while also getting education and working on their development.
Tip : Find Help And Support
Caring for a child with ASD can demand a lot of energy and time. There may be days when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or discouraged. Parenting isnt ever easy, and raising a child with special needs is even more challenging. In order to be the best parent you can be, its essential that you take care of yourself.
Dont try to do everything on your own. You dont have to! There are many places that families of children with ASD can turn to for advice, a helping hand, advocacy, and support:
ADS support groups Joining an ASD support group is a great way to meet other families dealing with the same challenges you are. Parents can share information, get advice, and lean on each other for emotional support. Just being around others in the same boat and sharing their experience can go a long way toward reducing the isolation many parents feel after receiving a childs diagnosis.
Respite care Every parent needs a break now and again. And for parents coping with the added stress of ASD, this is especially true. In respite care, another caregiver takes over temporarily, giving you a break for a few hours, days, or even weeks.
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When It Comes To Autism One Size Doesnt Fit All
If you put a PlayStation game into an Xbox, would it work? Of course not. So does that mean the Xbox is broken? No. The same thing applies for a child with autism. Just because they dont learn the way typical children do doesnt mean there is something wrong with them. It means that we as parents, caregivers, friends, neighbors and teachers need to find different ways to try and make a connection.
Laura Jones, Lambertville, New Jersey
When Is It Decided An Autistic Child Is Verbal/nonverbal
Each individual develops at their own rate. However, research showed that one third to half of parents of autistic children noticed issues before their childs first birthday. Also, around 80% to 90% saw problems before the child turned 2.
There are certain symptoms that may indicate that the child has verbal/nonverbal autism. Here are some:
- Not responding to their name by the age of 1
- Not babbling towards parents or caregivers by the age of 1
- Not pointing at objects of interest by the age of 14 months
- Not imitating the parents or caregivers by the age of 18 months
- Repeating words over and over
- Flapping their hands
- Not meeting developmental milestones in terms of speech and language
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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.
It’s Ok To Be Sad About Your Child’s Autism Diagnosis
“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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Dealing With Meltdowns And Tantrums
How Do I Handle A Child With Autism In My Classroom With No Help
Teaching a large class of children is challenging no matter what the class composition is. Increasingly, teachers are being asked to deal with larger populations of students with special needs, students who are language learners, as well as grade-level learners all in one class. This task is incredibly difficult and requires concerted effort at differentiation and the key tool of all teachers: amazing patience.
This is especially true if a teacher has a child with autism in her class. Children with autism are capable of learning and participating in class, but frequently have difficulties with social aspects of learning and classwork, as well as the organization that comes with being a successful student. Additionally, children with autism may be oversensitive to physical stimuli or may have emotional triggers that cause him or her to act out in the classroom. This presents a dilemma for the teacher who needs to manage the behavior and learning of over twenty students and cant fully stop class to deal with the needs of any one.
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Handling Aggressive Behavior In Children With Autism
Many people think that aggressive behavior is a part of autism and its something that we just have to deal with. This is not true. Today, I am going to tackle the topic of aggression head on.
Each week I provide you with some of my ideas about turning autism around. So, if you havent subscribed to my YouTube channel, you can do that now. Since Lucas has had ABA therapists in his life for two decades now, weve had a lot of therapists come and go over the years. My house has been like Grand Central Station. One of the therapists, Ill call her Sheri, resigned from her job as a local ABA therapist years ago. She would no longer be able to work with Lucas because she was moving to another state to work at a prestigious ABA organization which offered an approved private school for kids 3-21 years of age. They also offered a residential facility for children, teens, and adults with severe problem behaviors.
When Sheri traveled 6 or 8 hours from our local area to this ABA organization for an interview and tour, they showed Sheri the preschool classroom and also showed her the dorm or apartment theyd be providing for her. They lured her to work there with a salary, a place to live, health benefits, and tuition reimbursement that they would agree to start paying after 6 months of employment. Since Sheri was interested in getting a Masters degree and eventually becoming a BCBA, she was excited about the opportunity and eagerly moved and started.