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.
How To Engage Autistic Kids
- Children typically begin to talk about the future and past, and in conversational formats once they reach their preschool years . Kids also grow their vocabulary size immensely during this time.
- Provide children with the opportunity to create their own story narratives, perhaps focusing on a favorite book or TV character.
- Teach children how to ask questions and listen to others, such as a pretend interview game.
For Social Skills:
- Provide children with opportunities to mimic appropriate behavior from adult role models. These opportunities can take the form of live conversations and activities with parents and other adults, or through role-playing games and programs where a role-model “character” helps kids navigate various challenges.
- Focus on all-inclusive, team-oriented activities in environments where children have the opportunity to work with and befriend other children.
For Motor Skills:
- For gross motor skills: obstacle courses, dance games, and balancing and jumping games can help develop muscle tone and coordination — begin with least-threatening activities, and introduce new activities gradually.
- For fine motor skills, coloring and tracing games can help kids develop pencil grasp and hand-eye coordination.
For Sensory Integration:
Add Brain Breaks Or Yoga And Movement Activities
These can be incorporated throughout your childs day. Its critical to ensure your child is taking a break at school and preparing mentally for difficult assignments and tests.
Deep breathing and calming strategies should be practiced when things are calm and not stressful so that they can be easily accessed when a child is stressed.
Many breathing exercises and brain breaks can be found on the internet and here, at the Pocket Occupational Therapist website.
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 a man with Asperger Syndrome, 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.
We Laugh At Inappropriate Moments
When I was at school, we use to have an annual sponsored silence in which students would raise funds on the anniversary of WWII. For the event, a guest speaker would be invited to discuss their experiences of living through one of the worlds bleakest times and, every year, I would start laughing uncontrollably. Inevitably I would be punished by teachers, but the look of disapproval from fellow students was far worse.
Since then, laughter in autistic people has come to be understood a bit better with the prevailing theory suggesting that, as laughter is one of our most innate methods of communication , it could be that when autistic people are experiencing high emotions, our body immediately falls back on to this inherent response and gets the giggles.
Subsequently, to interfere with an autistic person during this time is to tell them to not feel at all and so, while its okay to move us to a more secluded environment, its not okay to scold us for reacting in a way which has been incorrectly perceived as rude. .
Method 2 Of 9:coping With Language And Communication Problems
We Are Incredibly Lonely
For all of the reasons already listed, its easy to see why being the parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum is a lonely experience. Parents are with their children all the time. Many will be with them for the rest of their life. That makes joining a community of friends incredibly difficult. Divorce rates amongst parents of children on the Autism Spectrum is especially high. If youre a friend of a parent of an autistic child, ask that parent if theyre okay. Ask if they need something, or if you can help with anything. Showing them theyre not as alone as they may feel will go a long way in brightening their day.
Assume Their Perspectives Are Skewed And Unreliable
This is Morgan. Brilliant lad, and I promise Im not just saying that because his brains so similar to mine. You may know him from the Facebook page Planet Morgan Aspie Superhero.
Morgans Asperger Syndrome is, in my opinion, not a significant problem for him. In fact , I think his Aspergers actually just makes him awesome.
Sadly, its his severe anxiety that presents him with his biggest challenge. He no longer attends school because the word alone makes him afraid. And, in a story all too familiar to parents of autistic children, the source of this anxiety was a devastating amount of bullying throughout life at one of his previous schools.
Unfortunately, this bullying was allegedly not addressed effectively.
According to those closest to him, the bullying continued because each incident was seen as Morgan having a skewed perspective. After all, he had an autistic spectrum disorder and didnt see social situations like the rest of the children. Therefore, the attitude was allegedly taken that if all the other children in the class were ok and Morgan was not, it was likely to be his faulty perspective at play.
Lets leave aside the little fact that children with special needs are significantly more likely to suffer from bullying by their peers.
And you know what, lets pretend for a moment that people are correct in saying that autistic people are less reliable.
Even then, the autistic persons anxieties are still real, and they still need to be addressed.
Sorting With Snacks Activity
This tactile activity for children with autism can be a fun way to engage students during math time. Give everyone in your class a food that is easy to sort, like chewy snacks or small crackers. Multicolored snacks are ideal, but you can also use food that comes in different shapes, textures, or sizes.
First, ask them to sort the food by color, shape, or another characteristic. Then, use the snacks to teach students basic math skills like counting, adding, or subtraction. Once theyve grasped the concept you want to teach, reward your students by letting them eat the snack.
We Leave Conversations Abruptly
Like modern-day Houdinis, autistic people are prone to a disappearing act or two. However, unlike the magicians of the past, were not exactly subtle about it. This can sometimes be observed when we are smack bang in the middle of a conversation and then, once weve said our piece, abracadabra, were as good as gone.
In truth, conversations can be hard work for autistic people, as finding the meaning behind the amalgamation of expressions, words and tone is a long and tiring process. Conversely, Were the ones that can get left behind in discussions and, with so much new information bombarding us, our automatic fight or flight kicks in and were outta there.
If you want to help an autistic person in these circumstances and ensure that we dont prematurely vamoose, give us plenty of opportunities to ask for more information and, maybe, consider speaking more slowly .
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.
Your Child With Autism May Bring Out The Best In Your Family
“Our son is the oldest of our three children, and he has taught us all the importance of kindness, patience, compassion, listening and respect. These attributes allow our family to keep a very grounded and real perspective on what is truly important in life vs. what is fleeting, frivolous or simply not worthy of our energy.”
Stephanie Martin, Greenville, South Carolina
“It’s exciting and challenging because each day holds a new adventure. Despite the challenges of having a child on the spectrum, my life is perfectly complete. My son challenges me to be a better parent every single day.”
Yolanda Holmes, Greenville, South Carolina
Best Sensory Toys For Autism
Price: $Youve likely heard of a fidget spinner. The idea with these snap-and-click chains is similar. Theyre a tactile fidget toy that may help reduce stress or anxiety while also increasing your childs focus and attention. Each link of 24 in a chain moves and locks into five different positions while also producing a satisfying clicking noise.Reviewers say these are a hit with their kids with ASD and that many of their little ones like breaking the chains, connecting them, and forming them into bigger shapes.This toy is best for older kids, though. The links may be stiff and difficult to move for small hands, and the pieces of the links are quite small, which could pose a choking hazard for little ones.
Early Treatment Is Crucial
There is no known cure for autism, but intensive therapy helps a child learn a wide range of skills from making eye contact to hugging to having a conversation. And the sooner a child begins, the better. A panel of experts convened by the National Academy of Sciences in 2001 recommended that children should have 25 hours of therapy per week as soon as autism is suspected. Because children with autism have very different behaviors and abilities, the most effective approach takes into account a child’s unique challenges and encourages healthy development through play, rather than just trying to change specific symptoms. “Intervention can take many forms, from going to a regular preschool to a parent’s working with her child over the course of a normal day to direct therapies from well-trained teachers and professionals all depending on the child,” Dr. Lord says.
How To Choose The Right Activity
There are many ways for people with autism and their family members to enjoy hobbies and activities together. In some cases, accommodations are needed, but in many cases, autism is either no issue or is actually an advantage.
The key to success, however, is to choose an activity and a venue that is comfortable for and interesting to your autistic child.
To choose an appropriate activity, start by observing your child’s play and, if he is verbal, ask questions. What does your autistic family member enjoy? How does he or she choose to share interests with you?
Next, try joining your child’s activity. Rather than leaping in with your own ideas and direction, however, try following your child’s lead.
Many of us have been taught that there’s a “right” and “wrong” way to play a game or build a structure, and we want our child to “do it right.” But when you’re working with an autistic child, the first and most important step is engagement and communication, not instruction.
Think about ways to expand on your child’s interest. How can you take an interactive role in her favorite pastimes? How can you expand on her interests and help her to explore the world?
If she likes watching Sesame Street, might she also enjoy a puppet show? If he loves collecting baseball cards, would he enjoy watching a game on TV or in the real world?
If there are challenges think about ways to work around them to help your child to cope.
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!
Step 3: Plan Playdates And Social Time
It’s important for kids with autism to socialize with their peers, even if sometimes it can be challenging for them. Playdates and other activities are some much-needed chances to practice social skills and make new friends. Those who are struggling can sign up for a social skills group, which helps with things like introducing yourself, talking to others, reading social cues, and more.
When helping your child choose a playmate, look for someone who shares the same interests. Pre-plan the activities , and avoid places with too much noise and stimulation if you think it will overwhelm your child. Let your child know what to expect ahead of time. Consider using a visual schedule with pictures or create social stories to help “tell ahead” what will happen during a playdate.
Rates Are On The Rise
An estimated 1 in 40 children in this country have autism to some degree, according to a recent study from Pediatrics based on 2016 data. That’s about 1.5 million children between the ages 3 to 17. Nationwide, autism strikes three to four times more boys than girls; the rates are about the same for kids of all races.
Although there seems to be an autism epidemic, the Pediatrics study attributes the increasing prevalence to more inclusive reporting. The definition of autism has been expanded in the past decade to include a wider spectrum of problems with communication and social interaction. “Ten years ago, many children with mild autism were simply not diagnosed,” says Adrian Sandler, M.D., a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Mission Children’s Hospital, in Asheville, North Carolina, and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on children with disabilities. Plus, there are more state and federal programs for autistic kids, giving doctors an incentive to diagnose and refer them. However, there may be additional, unknown reasons for the spike in autism rates, and researchers are investigating everything from environmental toxins to viruses to food allergies.
Im Not Someone To Pity Simply Because My Child Has Autism
Autistic children are writing books, making films, creating blogs, and making all sorts of other groundbreaking achievements. Yet, when a parent tells someone their child is autistic, they are usually met with an unnecessary apology or look of pity. Autism is not something to be pitied, and our societys outlook should change to reflect that.
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.
Let Them Find Out That You Love Them But Hate Their Autism
This point is a step up from #4, only far more personal.
And yes, I am well aware that lots of people feel this way, parents in particular. Some have even written articles and blog posts entitled why I love my child but hate his/her autism. And I get it- watching vulnerable children struggle is a dreadful experience, and even more so if theyre your own. Hating the condition that holds them back is quite a natural response.
But bloody hell, it can be damaging.
Why? Well, imagine that a childs mother makes the mistake of saying the sentence I love my child but hate their autism in a place where the child can overhear her. The child will take one very significant message from that, and one which will definitely stick with them:
Wow a part of me is so dreadful that even my mother cant love it.
Everyone struggles with their personal demons. Everyone. And some people only cope with their demons based on how well other people let them cope.
When someone knows you hate their autism, you are bringing those demons to life. You are giving their demons a name, and you are giving those demons authority.
More than anything, you are saying that the child is right to be fearful and hateful towards a large part of themselves.
If youve reached the end of this and still love the child but hate their autism, thats your right to do so.
But please, for the childs sake, please never let them find out.
Instead of talking about them as if theyre not in the room:
- Love the child.
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
Anything Made With Potentially Toxic Materials
Even for older children with autism, it’s important to avoid toys and other gifts that could contain toxic materials. Not only are many autistic children unusually sensitive to chemicals and toxins, but they are also more likely than their typical peers to mouth or lick objects. Many children with autism also lack the ability to make good choices about how to handle such gifts as chemistry sets, “slime,” etc.
Science Fiction And Fantasy
Science fiction and fantasy are often of great interest to people with autism. Depending on their interest levels and abilities, people on the spectrum may learn every detail of a particular “universe,” write their own stories, watch and rewatch movies, read comics, attend cons, or even build their own costumes.
There is a whole world of opportunity for hobbyists out there, at all levels. Find your inner caped crusader, and get involved.
Please Let My Child Play With Your Child
A study done in Australia found that 42% of teens and adults on the Autism Spectrum do not feel comfortable leaving their own home because they often feel others treat them negatively. Not only is this heartbreaking for the affected individuals, it also leads to further misunderstanding and stigma about autism by the general public. Children with autism like to play with their peers, and largely benefit from being included in things like play dates and sports teams.
Why Do Asd Children Hit
For autistic children, aggressive behavior is a physical way of communicating when they cannot express their feelings in words. If they feel frustrated, upset, hungry or tired, their emotional state has a direct impact on their conduct.
This is why children react aggressively towards their parents or even siblings.
Aggressive behaviors are common and normal during early infancy, especially if your child has communicational challenges. The best way for you, as a parent, to deal with these situations is to understand what your child is going through and offer the support they need to express their emotions properly.
As Parents We Arent Looking For An Autism Cure
Parents of neurotypical children are often surprised to hear that parents of children on the Autism Spectrum arent really looking for a cure. Autism is part of their childs life and identity, and they wouldnt be themselves if they werent autistic. These parents might research to find management tips and tricks , but they understand that finding a magical cure to get rid of autism altogether is, for lack of a better word, just silly.
Picture Books About Diversity
Here are a few picture books about diversity that you can share with your students:
- The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
- Im New Here by Anne Sibley OBrian
- Its Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr
- Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee
- The Girl Who Thought In Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca
The last book on this list, The Girl Who Thought in Pictures, is about a famous researcher who was diagnosed with autism and has since stood as an activist for people with her condition. It is perfect for helping kids understand autism a little better without calling out a specific student.