Is Your Childs Lack Of Interest In Peers A Sign Of Autism
If your child shows no interest in their peers and does not want to play with others, it could be a sign of autism. Every child develops at a different rate, however. A lack of interest in peers can even out as the child ages.
Some children are inherently shy or anxious, or they have limited experience with other kids and therefore can be less interested in peer interactions.
If you are concerned about developmental delays or the potential for autism, talk to your childs doctor.
Let Go Of Traditional Parenting Beliefs
When I speak with parents of autistic children, I tell them to burn their traditional parenting books because they are useless. And this is so true. The parenting techniques you likely used with your son or daughter probably wont work with your autistic grandchild. Its a whole new world. A world where punishment escalates problem behavior and positive reinforcement can deescalate it. Its a world where transitions can be challenging, and timers can make all the difference. Sitting around the same table enjoying the same meal may have been how you raised your children, but your autistic grandchild may have food aversions and difficulty sitting in one place for long periods. Embrace what helps your autistic grandchild be successful, as non-traditional as that may be.
Avoid Judging Or Blaming Anyone Or Anything
As humans, too often we find ourselves searching for a reason or something on which we can lay blame. In the larger picture of your grandchilds emotional, physical and intellectual growth, negative energy is simply wasted energy. Positive energy seeks to learn, to understand and to support what is. Autism is a neurological disorder. Parents cannot do anything or fail to do anything that would leave their child autistic. Suggesting otherwise is cruel and utterly wrong.
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And Finally Theres An Extension To This Article Containing Points 6
Yeah, I originally planned to just extend this article, but instead Ive doubled it.
Writing for Autistic Not Weird has now become my job, thanks to those who support me via Patreon. The extension to this article is a thank you to anyone who thinks my work is worth $5 per month or more, and allows me to spend my time helping the autism community worldwide. To those interested:
Support Financially When Possible
The education savings plan that you have begun may need to be used earlier than expected. Therapies, programs, resources and respite care are costly and yet they are the critical ingredients to making the lives of your children and their children with autism better. Listen to what your children are saying they need. Quietly reassure them that you will help in any way that you can.
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Behavior Signs Of Autism In Children
Autistic childrens behavioral signs are typically the most widely known, but sometimes they arent as widely understood.
We do have certain behavior signs of autism in children to watch for, but its important to also see where this behavior may come from.
Autistic children may have repetitive behaviors like flapping their arms or tapping their feet. These behaviors are called stimming.
We stim because it helps us calm down, show our excitement, show that were overwhelmed, and more.
You may also notice that your child seems to resist physical contact.
Physical stimulation can be extremely overwhelming for autistic children, so often theyre okay with physical contact if they initiate but not when others initiate.
Autistic children may also struggle to transition between activities.
Our brains can hyperfocus on what were working on, so when were expected to stop that and move to another activity it can lead to meltdowns.
Another behavior sign of autism in children is that they may not seem aware of dangers in their environment.
You might see your child bolt or run out into the road, seemingly unaware that a car could hit them at any time.
Autistic children also may become physically aggressive when frustrated.
Its vital to know that autism does not make a child violent, but when an autistic person is frustrated and cannot communicate their needs, they may respond with aggression.
And finally, autistic children may often rock or bang their head repeatedly.
Interacting With A Child Who Has Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder. It affects how children interact and communicate with others. The disorder is called a spectrum disorder because children can be anywhere on the autism spectrum.
Children with ASD start to show symptoms at an early age. The symptoms continue during childhood and adulthood. Healthcare providers dont know why some children develop ASD. It may be a combination of genes they are born with and something in their environment that triggers those genes.
Children with ASD have trouble relating to other people. They have trouble making eye contact. They often withdraw into themselves. They may seem uninterested in relating to family members.
But some children with ASD may love to keep talking with family members, friends, and even strangers about a topic they are obsessed with. The problem is that they may talk about it too long. Or they may talk only about that one subject. This can push other people away.
If you are a parent or grandparent of a child with ASD, it can be heartbreaking if you feel like you just canât connect with him or her. But learning more about these disorders and what has helped others can help you and your relationship.
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Five Ways To Damage Autistic Children Without Even Knowing
Yep, uncomfortable title. But sadly, these are subjects that I feel we have a responsibility to talk about.
Today, Im going to share some habits that Ive seen in a wide variety of contexts: some of them in my career in education , some of them from people dealing with me as an autistic man, some of them Ive seen in the form of internet comments, and so on. Although often done unknowingly- hence the article title- these habits have the potential to do harm.
This is a tricky subject, I know, but these are five mistakes that need discussing. Youd be surprised how easy it is to make them.
Rather importantly, this is not specifically a guide for parents. It is a guide for anyone who has any contact with a young and/or vulnerable autistic person, whether they are parents, teachers, teaching assistants, family friends, and so on.
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
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Repetitive Or Restrictive Behaviors
An autistic child who has adopted certain repetitive or restrictive behaviors may exhibit some of these signs:
- performs repetitive motions, such as flapping their hands, rocking back and forth, or spinning
- persistently or repeatedly lines up toys or other objects in an organized fashion
- gets upset or frustrated by small changes in their daily routine
- has to follow certain routines
- plays with toys the same way every time
- likes certain parts of objects
- has obsessive interests
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Find Other Parents Who Will Understand And Support You
âIt always has been invaluable to have other parents who are going through the same thing as you are, to call them up and say I cant believe this is happening to me today. Because to the rest of the community, the things that happen to us, theyre really not the norm.â
Ruth Singer Strunck, the mom of two young adults with autism
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What To Do During A Very Loud Very Public Meltdown
When our child has a meltdown, parents often want to stop the tears because it hurts our hearts that our kids are struggling. Or were running low on patience and just want peace and quiet.
Many times, were coping with the fifth or sixth meltdown that morning over seemingly simple things like the tag in their shirt being too itchy, their sister talking too loudly, or a change in plans.
Autistic children arent crying, wailing, or flailing to get at us somehow.
Theyre crying because its what their bodies need to do in that moment to release tension and emotion from feeling overwhelmed with emotions or sensory stimulations.
Their brains are wired differently and so its how they interact with the world. Thats something we have to come to terms with as parents so we can support them in the best way.
So how can we effectively support our children through these often loud and thrashing meltdowns?
Assume That Most Of Their Identity Is Down To Autism Rather Than Personality Choices
The phrase yeah, thats his autism is one I have heard far too many times. Even in professional circles.
Yes, our autism influences us. Yes, it often gives us particular habits or interests unique to us. But to say its just his/her autism is implying that we dont get any say in the matter.
I remember when I was running a chess tournament in a special school . One crucial match was scheduled for a day when the school was doing a special event. Throughout the day there was only one opportunity for this game to be played and ten minutes before the start, one of the students got a migraine and had to go home.
This stressed me out because I was relying on that matchs result so I could drive straight to the trophy centre after work and have the prizes engraved . And Im fairly transparent, so people could tell I was bothered by something.
When I told one of my colleagues I was feeling stressed, she immediately asked me oh dear- is it because todays been a break from routine?
No, it wasnt.
Some other examples:
That said, there is a balance. Like I said, autism does have an impact on us. I used to watch Independence Day on video over and over and over and over again when I was twelve, and you could validly say that this habit was influenced by my Aspergers. But the main reason it happened was because Independence Day was an awesome movie!
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Make An Appointment With A Health Professional
If you think your child has autism, its good to act quickly and make an appointment with a professional. For example, you could talk to your child and family health nurse, your GP or a paediatrician.
Its a good idea to write down your concerns, including examples of what youve noticed and any concerns that your childs early childhood education service or school has raised. You can share this information with the health professional.
If the professional doesnt have any concerns about your child, but youre still worried, its OK to ask for a second, or even third, opinion from another professional.
You can monitor your childs social communication behaviour and interaction using the ASDetect app. It gives clear examples of what to expect in the early stages of your childs social and language development.
Social Signs Of Autism In Children
One of the biggest autism stereotypes is that were anti-social. But what in the world does that even mean?
A lot of autistics I know are very social, we just tend to socialize differently than neurotypical people do.
There are definitely some social signs of autism in children that parents can watch for, so Ive outlined a few of them below.
First, autistic children may struggle to relate to people outside of their close family.
It takes us a while to connect with new people, so were often most ourselves with close family.
Autistic children also may not play with other children as you might typically expect.
Autistics tend to prefer parallel play where they play near other children without directly interacting.
Your child may also seem like they are in their own world a lot of the time.
Maybe they dont respond when called or seem to zone out.
One of the biggest signs for my son, A-Man, was that he played with the exact same toys in the exact same way every time.
He liked his routine and playing in a way he knew that he enjoyed helped him to feel safe and in control.
You may also notice that your child prefers to play alone, rather than with peers.
Autistic children tend to be very specific in their play, and adding in other children adds a lot of uncontrollable variables.
Which brings me to my final social sign of autism
Autistic children may have extremely strict rules to follow during play.
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Dont Use Creative Language
Autistic children take things literally. If you sprinkle your conversation with irony, sarcasm, exaggerations, or idioms, youre bound to confuse the child.
For example, dont tell a child to keep an eye on something. The child may reach for it and put the item near his face.
Be as literal and direct as you can, so the child knows exactly what youre talking about.
If you slip and say something unusual, dont laugh at the child for taking your words literally. Apologize for your mistake, and rephrase the sentence so your meaning is clear.
Communication Signs Of Autism In Children
We learned about my sons autism after begging our pediatrician for a speech therapy referral.
We knew he wasnt communicating like a typical child would, and we wanted to help him communicate to lower his frustrations.
See, autistic children often have significant communication struggles and delays, sometimes to the point of not speaking at all.
The first thing most people notice in autistic children is that they may not meet typical language milestones.
You may notice that your child often repeats quotes from books, songs, or movies that they have seen or heard.
My son used to quote the Tinkerbell Pirate Fairy movie constantly.
An autistic child may also struggle to begin or keep up with conversations.
Beginning a conversation takes several expressive language skills that many autistic kids struggle with, and keeping up with a 2-way conversation can be overwhelming and exhausting.
You might also notice that an autistic child may not respond to their name.
Sometimes this is because they are so engrossed in an activity that they block out other noises, and sometimes its because autistic children dont develop the same familiarity with their name that other children do.
Another common communication sign of autism in children is that they may seem completely unaware of the volume of their own voice.
A-Man is often yelling or whispering without realizing that hes doing it, or realizing how those different volumes affect those around him.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Autism In Babies And Toddlers
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.
Help: I Need Communication Advice For Autistic Grandson
A grandfather from Singapore asks
My eldest grandson is autistic. His parents work full-time so I am his caretaker. He is very picky about his food, does not talk, is hyperactive, walks on his toes, has difficulty concentrating, wakes up in the middle of the night, is not potty-trained, and fiddles with his fingers. We do a gluten-free / casein-free diet, supplements to detoxify his body of metals, soft laser treatments on his brain, and essential oils. Our main concern is how to reduce his hyperactivity and improve his language. Please help.
Hi Grandpa! It is clear from your letter that you absolutely adore your grandson and would do anything to help him. Your love really shines through. What else stands out to me about your letter is that your family is trying a lot of biomedical approaches to help your grandson, but there was no mention of any behavioral interventions. As a behavior analyst Im not familiar with the research on any of those treatments you mentioned, but I know the research is very clear on the effectiveness of behavioral therapy for those with autism.
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Build Your Support Network
A supportive network of family and friends can help you make sense of information and support you in practical ways.
- Talk to friends and family you trust about your concerns about your child.
- Meet and talk to other parents of autistic children by joining forums or parent groups. Your state autism association or the NDIA can help you find local groups.
- If you need a break, ask family or friends to look after your child occasionally or for other kinds of practical help, like cooking an occasional meal. You might find it hard to ask for or accept help, but people who care about you and your child will want to support you.
When you look after yourself, youre better able to navigate the challenges of family life with an autistic child. And when youre healthy and well, it helps your child grow and thrive.