Im Not An Autism Expert
If you want to learn more about autism and what its like to be autistic, there is one reliable source: a person on the Autism Spectrum. Parents of autistic children can tell you what it is like to live with a person on the Spectrum. They are experts on their own child. But the only person who can tell you what its like to live with autism is an autistic person himself.
What Is Autism And How Does It Affect Your Child
Autism is a disorder of the brain and nervous system. The nervous system controls the entire body. So, a child with autism has difficulty with easy tasks. Autism shows up in many ways but there are common features that can be identified. Sleep problems are one of these identifiers.
Autism results in sleep problems. A child suffers from frustration when they dont get enough sleep. Any regular person would have a lower rate of performance without a good nights sleep. The reason why kids with autism have a hard time sleeping is often due to hyperactivity, compulsions, inattention, obsessive rituals, and physical aggressiveness.
These are the behaviors that need attention. Good parenting can reduce such behavior. So, a good sleep will be easier to achieve. However, its easier said than done. Parents around the globe are still looking for a good solution. If youre looking for a good solution, check the link . It will guide you in buying the right product for your child with autism.
You Cant Always See Autism
There is still a shocking amount of ignorance among the general population when it comes to the Autism Spectrum. Many people assume that children with autism have certain identifiable facial features or particular habits. But as it has already has been mentioned, every single person with autism is different and mild cases of autism are common. These stereotypes and lack of understanding often make things difficult for parents. Its especially hard in the case of schools, coaches, or other organizations who deny a diagnosis because it is not easily seen.
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Remember Its Not About Right And Wrong Behavior
The language you use with your children is important. They learn by example. Calling a behavior wrong tends to set off many children with high-functioning autism, who want only to be right.
Instead, talk about expected and unexpected behavior, which are two terms used in expert Michelle Garcia Winners Social Thinking® system. For example, if youre trying to get your child to focus on a person when having a conversation rather than pacing around and looking elsewhere, explain that people expect attention when they are talking. In other words, give concrete examples of expected behavior that your child can observe and practice.
Theres No Need To Tag Us In Every Facebook Article About Autism
Parents of children on the Autism Spectrum are research junkies, and do their best to stay up-to-date with each and every advancement in the autism community. Certainly, they know more than the average person. As one parent put it, Theres literally no Facebook article we havent seen. So, before you share it and tag us because were that friend with the child with autism, take that into account.
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What To Do If Youre Worried
If your child is developmentally delayed, or if youve observed other red flags for autism, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician right away. In fact, its a good idea to have your child screened by a doctor even if he or she is hitting the developmental milestones on schedule. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive routine developmental screenings, as well as specific screenings for autism at 9, 18, and 30 months of age.
Schedule an autism screening. A number of specialized screening tools have been developed to identify children at risk for autism. Most of these screening tools are quick and straightforward, consisting of yes-or-no questions or a checklist of symptoms. Your pediatrician should also get your feedback regarding your childs behavior.
Teach Them Coping Strategies Once Theyre Calm
There isnt much we can do during a meltdown as far as trying to teach our children coping tools, but when theyre in a peaceful and rested frame of mind, we can definitely work on emotional regulation together.
My son responds really well to nature walks, practicing yoga daily , and deep breathing.
These coping strategies will help them calm down perhaps before a meltdown even when you arent around.
Empathy is at the heart of all of these steps to dealing with an autistic meltdown.
When we look at our childs behavior as a form of communication, it helps us view them as struggling instead of being defiant.
The word defiance can drop from our meltdown vocabulary entirely, replaced by empathy and compassion. And by showing our children compassion, we can more effectively support them through their meltdowns.
How To Recognize Reactions
Just as it’s challenging to predict the response of an autistic person, it can also be difficult to interpret autistic reactions to difficult emotions as these reactions may take different forms.
In some cases, reactions take the form of major temper tantrums, but other reactions can look very different. For example, they might take the form of:
- Screeching or other noise-making
- Bolting or eloping
- Intensive self-stimulation
- Aggression toward others
- Sensory avoidance
- Sensory seeking behavior
- Refusal to engage
- Compulsive behaviors such as touching the same objects in the same order over and over again
Some of these behaviors are actually attempts to self-calm. Others are simply physical manifestations of internal upset.
Know That Its Not A Cure But It Is A Start
There is no cure for autism. But helping your child understand social skills is a great starting point for a rewarding life. Keep in mind that, with progress, you should use rewards for good behavior less frequently over time. Work with a therapist on the best timetable for this tapering. The idea is that as a child gets better and better at a skill such as conversation, the behavior itself becomes more natural.
When a child has a successful conversation or makes a new friend, the success is its own kind of reward for that child and for the parent who gets to witness it.
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How To Get Started:
- Pick a close-ended activity like threading beads on a necklace
- Once your child has mastered a simple close-ended activity, increase the difficulty
- Be sure to praise your child as soon as they complete the task
- If your child really struggles with focus, you can get an egg timer so your child can see how long they have to focus for
Tantrums Meltdowns And Takeaways
Both tantrums and meltdowns are manifestations of difficulty with emotional regulation skills and if they persist beyond the stages of typical development, can be associated with other diagnoses like ADHD, autism, sensory processing dysfunction, learning disabilities, depression, and anxiety.
While tantrums are behavioral in nature, meltdowns have a sensory, physiological basis that warrants different management strategies. While neither are fun outbursts to experience, focus part of your energy on proactively supporting your childs emotional regulation.
In the moments of tantrum or meltdown, use the guidelines weve outlined above to find what works for your child, and please share with Harkla what management strategies work for you!
“Autistic Meltdown or Temper Tantrum? by Judy Endow, MSW.” Ollibean. N.p., 10 Nov. 2016. Web. 25 May 2017.
“26 Sensory Integration Tools for Meltdown Management – Friendship Circle – Special Needs Blog.” Friendship Circle — Special Needs Blog. N.p., 18 Nov. 2015. Web. 25 May 2017.
Bennett, David D. “Decreasing Tantrum/meltdown Behaviors of School Children with High Functioning Autism through Parent Training.” Social Science. N.p., 04 Feb. 2014. Web. 25 May 2017.
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My Child May Be Nonverbal But She Has A Lot To Say
We live in a very verbal society that is ill-equipped for those in our population who are nonverbal. Its estimated that about one-third of those on the Autism Spectrum are unable to speak. Still, it would be a mistake to assume these people do not have ideas, opinions, and other things to say. Some autistic children learn sign language to communicate, while others type or use other tools.
Help Your Child With Autism Achieve Their Full Potential At The Autism Therapy Group
Our team of autism therapy experts at The Autism Therapy Group is ready to help your child work on their communication, behavior, self-care, eating, and social skills. What they learn through their customized therapy program can help them socially with friends, at school, and out in public. But itll also help create a more peaceful environment at home, including around bedtime.
Contact us at ATG today to see how we can help!
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Create Structure And Routine
Children with autism thrive with structure and routine. One of the diagnostic criteria for autism is restricted and repetitive interests, which can extend to daily activities. Learn to work with this personality trait instead of against it. Find tools and techniques to create structure even in the most challenging situations.
Signs My Autistic Child Will Talk
You may ask yourself will my nonverbal autistic child ever speak?. The answer to that question is not easy to give.
Research shows that nonverbal children of age 4 who were nonverbal until that point could produce single words and phrases without verbs.
The important thing here is to provide the right support and help to your child, suitable to their needs. If your child is babbling, or trying to convey something through their behavior, you should lean into it and practice speech exercises.
Many parents and caregivers report that they have had success with such exercises at home, along with the help of professional intervention like speech therapy.
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How Parents Can Spot The Warning Signs
As a parent, youre in the best position to spot the earliest warning signs of autism. You know your child better than anyone and observe behaviors and quirks that a pediatrician, in a quick fifteen-minute visit, might not have the chance to see. Your childs pediatrician can be a valuable partner, but dont discount the importance of your own observations and experience. The key is to educate yourself so you know whats typical and whats not.
Monitor your childs development. Autism involves a variety of developmental delays, so keeping a close eye on whenor ifyour child is hitting the key social, emotional, and cognitive milestones is an effective way to spot the problem early on. While developmental delays dont automatically point to autism, they may indicate a heightened risk.
Take action if youre concerned. Every child develops at a different pace, so you dont need to panic if your child is a little late to talk or walk. When it comes to healthy development, theres a wide range of typical. But if your child is not meeting the milestones for his or her age, or you suspect a problem, share your concerns with your childs doctor immediately. Dont wait.
Regression of any kind is a serious autism warning sign
Ten Services Available To Help With Your Autistic Child
When my child was diagnosed with autism I thought the help would start rolling in. I firmly believed that getting the diagnosis would be the hard part. Once we had that we would start helping him.
Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones where everything falls into place. In most cases thats simply not true. Helping your child will feel more like an exhausting game of trial and error.
Youll spend time googling and wondering what your next steps should be. Youll hear about other families that have help. Terms like Consumer Support Grant and CDCS Waiver will be thrown around but for some reason you cant find any information about them.
Youll hear about Medicaid and Social Security.
Youll hear about your neighbors grandmas mailmans kid that receives full-time ABA but you cant seem to figure out how they got it. If you are anything like me it all gets to be very confusing.
You just want to help your kid. It shouldnt be so hard.
At the time I logically turned to the professionals which in our case was the county and the state. I assumed theyd tell me about every service available to me.
I was wrong. They didnt know all of the resources available. But you know who does? The parents that have done this before you. The ones that are living it.
Veteran parents are your best resources. Find them. Every benefit and service my son has came from another parent giving me advice.
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Dont Wait For A Diagnosis
As the parent of a child with ASD or related developmental delays, the best thing you can do is to start treatment right away. Seek help as soon as you suspect somethings wrong. Dont wait to see if your child will catch up later or outgrow the problem. Dont even wait for an official diagnosis. The earlier children with autism spectrum disorder get help, the greater their chance of treatment success. Early intervention is the most effective way to speed up your childs development and reduce the symptoms of autism over the lifespan.
When your child has autism
Learn about autism. The more you know about autism spectrum disorder, the better equipped youll be to make informed decisions for your child. Educate yourself about the treatment options, ask questions, and participate in all treatment decisions.
Become an expert on your child. Figure out what triggers your kids challenging or disruptive behaviors and what elicits a positive response. What does your child find stressful or frightening? Calming? Uncomfortable? Enjoyable? If you understand what affects your child, youll be better at troubleshooting problems and preventing or modifying situations that cause difficulties.
Dont give up. Its impossible to predict the course of autism spectrum disorder. Dont jump to conclusions about what life is going to be like for your child. Like everyone else, people with autism have an entire lifetime to grow and develop their abilities.
Tips For How To Get Kids With Autism To Bed
Tips That Help Autistic Children Sleep
Its hard for parents to establish order with an autistic child, especially when it comes to bedtime. A lot of autistic children cant fall asleep on time. They also have a hard time staying asleep. A child with autism seeks more attention from their parents at bedtime and theres always the risk of bedwetting.
The life of an autistic child is difficult enough as it is. Sleep deficiency makes things worse. If you can establish a good routine for sleep then the child will have more energy. Also, theyll be happier in their day to day life. Theyll do better in academics and their motor skills will develop better when theyre getting enough sleep at night.
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Causes Of Anxiety And Meltdowns
Unlike their typical peers, few autistic children “throw fits” in order to garner more attention or to get a desired outcome . In most cases, autistic children react to physical or emotional stress without any particular agenda they are simply expressing feelings of excitement, frustration, or anxiety or responding to sensory assaults.
The reality is that children with autism, in general, may have less control over their emotions than their typical peers as a result, emotional explosions are more common.
It’s not always easy for a neurotypical parent to predict or even recognize situations likely to upset a child with autism. Ordinary changes in a daily routine such as a detour on the way to school can be terribly upsetting to some autistic children .
Odors such as the smell of fresh paint can be a sensory assault. Even the fluorescent lights at the grocery store can be overwhelming to certain individuals.
At the same time, however, any individual child may react differently to the same situation from day to day. An overwhelming stressor on Tuesday can be experienced as background noise on Thursday.
In general, it’s possible to predict at least some stressors and minimize them. For example:
- Very loud noises such as the sound of fireworks are easy to predict and avoid or minimize.
- Major changes in routine can be predicted, discussed, practiced, and planned for,
- Unavoidable noise and smells can be managed and planned for in advance.
This Is A Great Time To Parent A Child With Autism
“I am grateful that we live in the times that we do. So much new information has been discovered about autism. We live in the age of the internet and I can connect with another autism mom who lives several states or even countries over and talk about our shared experiences. I am grateful to have things like iPads that not only help my son communicate but also gives us a chance to share a moment while watching one of his favorite YouTube clips. A tip of my cap to the families that went before us. They really helped pave the way for the benefits my son has now. I hope I can do the same for the ones coming behind us.”
Eileen Shaklee, Wall, New Jersey
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