Tips For Working With Individuals On The Autism Spectrum
Thank you to the Indiana Resource Center Autism and Autism Society of Indiana for compiling these tips.
Remember that each person is different, and specific tips may not apply to all.
For more information on the Indiana Resource Center for Autism, visit our website at . Also, be sure to like IRCA on Facebook, and join us on Twitter and Pinterest.
For more information on the Autism Society of Indiana, visit their website at . Also, be sure to like ASI on Facebook, and join them on Twitter.
Indiana Resource Center for Autism & Autism Society of Indiana. Autism awareness month: Tips for working with individuals on the autism spectrum. The Reporter, 21. Retrieved from .
Working With A Job Coach
Nat works three days a week, sharing a job coach with two other young men. This coach, paid for by a state allocation, looks out for Nat at his job at CVS stocking coolers, making sure he understands what he is expected to do and stays on task. Hes also about to start a trial run at a second job retrieving shopping carts at a grocery store. Currently Nat spends the other two days in DayHab, short for Day Habilitation Services, meant to help people with developmental disabilities improve or maintain their independent living skills.
DayHab is often babysitting, Senator says, table top activities, coloring, television or sheltered workshops, with very little out in the community, and theres a mixture of disabilities. This isnt true of Nats program, she says all of his colleagues, as Senator terms them, are developmentally or intellectually delayed, possibly due to autism or Down syndrome.
Half of Nats funding comes from the state, half from Medicaid. After hes given a budget for rent, living expenses, transportation and his job coach, the family works with Nats service provider to come up with ways to stretch the money, Senator says. The family pays for extras like a recent three-day outing with a social group to New Hampshire.
Sensory Concerns For Moderate To Severe Autism
Sensitivity to textures, tastes, sights, sounds, and aromas can be a challenge for children with moderate autism.
When faced with overwhelming sensory input, they may meltdown and display behaviors like rocking, moaning, or aggression. Parents must know their childs sensory concerns and take steps to create a non-threatening environment with limitations on sensory triggers. They can turn down the lights, serve preferred foods, and reduce household noise.
Additionally, they can use behavior therapy and other strategies to help their child develop coping skills and become more comfortable in less-than-ideal environments.
Because of sensory concerns, children with severe autism must often live in a very structured and predictable environment. They may be unable to tolerate loud noises, certain aromas, or any touching.
To prevent meltdowns or self-injurious behavior, parents must create a non-threatening environment and limit their childs exposure to sensory triggers. In cases, therapy can help children with severe autism manage sensory concerns to a degree over time.
Also Check: Difference Between Hyperlexia And Autism
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.
When You Change Your Expectations The World Will Grow
I wish we knew that autism just means different, not less. Instead of baseball games in elementary school we would have sensory integration programs. I wish we knew then that it will be OK some days will be hard, some days will be beautiful and at the end of each of them when we tuck our son into bed, the most important thing we can do is make sure he knows he is loved.
Tabatha and Tony Rainwater, Knoxville, Tennessee
You May Like: What Is The Life Expectancy Of People With Autism
Therapies And Supports To Improve Communication And Social Skills
Improved communication and social understanding can lead to lower anxiety and less challenging behaviour in autistic children and teenagers. There are many therapies and supports that might increase your childs skills in these areas, and help you manage your childs behaviour.
A good first step is talking with your childs GP, paediatrician or psychologist, or another health professional who works with your child. They can help you find appropriate therapies and supports for your child. Psychologists, speech pathologists and experienced Applied Behaviour Analysis practitioners can help you with behaviour management if the behaviour continues to be a problem or you need support to deal with it.
Help During A Meltdown
We tend to expect a lot from children with autism. They thrive in environments that are calm, familiar, and supportive. But we often ask them to succeed in grocery stores, airports, and classrooms.
When children with autism are overwhelmed, they can experience meltdowns. Meltdowns can involve:
- Withdrawal. The child retreats to an inner world and stops talking altogether. The child may perform repetitive actions like rocking or hand flapping to self-soothe.
- Tantrums. The child cries, screams, stomps their feet, or curls into a ball.
Parents become adept at dealing with these episodes, but always ask if you can help. You could ask a restaurant to turn down the music, for example, while a worried mother attempts to calm her child.
You can also intervene directly. Experts suggest using a gentle voice and simple commands. Tell the child, Get up, and stand next to me. If the child cant respond, stay nearby and let the meltdown blow through. When the child seems calmer, try the commands.
Read Also: Good Doctor Autism
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.
Strategies To Build Confidence And Self
Whenever possible, let your child be as independent as possible. As your child makes progress, praise the progress and let the child express himself or complete a task on his own. Even if completing a task will be messier without your help, it is important to let your child attempt it. Every time he accomplishes a task or part of one, he is building a sense of self. Encourage and praise all self expression and attempts at independence.
You May Like: What Is The Symbol For Autism
It Won’t Always Be Like This
“During the hardest times, when my son wasnt sleeping or eating or when he melted down over lights and sounds, I wish I knew it wouldnt always be like this. I wish someone would have told me that the child I have now will grow and change and regress and thrive. You will feel frozen in time at different points. Know that it will get better. And harder. It will change.”
Kate Swenson, Cottage Grove, Minnesota
Acknowledge Your Child Or Students For Complying With Your Requests
For instance, if your child is using a loud voice in the movie theater and you say, whisper in the theater, praise the child with a comment such as nice job whispering, or thank you for being respectful in the theater. For children who understand language well, situations like this are a good time to teach about other peoples perspectives .
Recommended Reading: Is Level 2 Autism High Functioning
Treatment Options For Severe Autism
Severe autism can benefit from multiple forms of treatment used collaboratively to support the person and family as a whole.
Treatment plans are devised by team made up of medical and mental health professionals. It often involves a multidisciplinary approach, and no two treatment plans are alike.
Goals for treating severe autism include:
- Maintaining the safety of the child and those around them.
- Improving communication abilities, for both verbal and nonverbal communication.
- Reducing problematic behaviors.
- Building functional life skills to aid in everyday life.
Treatment plans can include:
- Family training, counseling, and support.
Treatment plans will also include methods for managing any co-occurring disorders simultaneously.
Severe autism usually requires a lot of support. Combining medical interventions as well as behavioral therapies, speech and language therapies, and occupational therapies together can offer a comprehensive approach.
Some Children Thrive When Given Structured Hands
Many children I have worked with or have observed, did very well when given a hands-on/visual activity. Examples include playing a computer game, sorting objects by color or object type completing a puzzle, constructing a model car, tracing or coloring in a picture, etc. As another example, some teachers of children with autism teach academic skills through sorting tasks. For instance, an activity about learning colors would require the child to put all the yellow chips in a yellow cup, all the blue chips in a blue cup, etc. Keeping a child focused with an activity they do well at is a great way to encourage calm behavior. However, if the child is feeling overwhelmed or frustrated from the activity, allow a break or a change in the task.
Also Check: Can A Child Outgrow Autism
Characteristics Of Autism Can Include:
- trouble using and understanding language or certain aspects of language such as sarcasm, expressions, and body language.
- difficulty taking in sensory input in an ordinary way. For example, a vacuum cleaner may sound overly loud, a smell may be extra strong, or the feel of something may be extra itchy.
- a need for a particular routine so they know what to expect as they can become frustrated when things dont go the way they had expected.
- trouble recognizing another persons opinion or understanding another persons feelings.
- difficulty working on or participating in activities with no clear ending
- difficulty switching from one activity to another, especially if they have to switch from something enjoyable to something not enjoyable .
- difficulty organizing themselves in productive play when not directed or given specific instructions.
Sometimes these characteristics lead to problem behaviors at home, in the classroom, or in the community which can be frustrating for the child and the adults caring for him.
Here are some strategies which can prevent problematic behaviors or promote positive behavioral changes :
How To Identify Children With Autism
Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in early childhood. Autism is the most common condition in a related constellation of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders, also called ASDs. Other autism spectrum disorders include Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder, or PDD. Autism and other autism spectrum disorders can be difficult to diagnose, because the symptoms and degree of impairment — ranging from mild to severe — are different for every child.
Some features of autism include:
- Social withdrawal
- Verbal or nonverbal communication problems
- Rigid and repetitive behavior
In severe cases, an autistic child may never learn to speak or make eye contact. But many children with autism and other autism spectrum disorders are able to live relatively normal lives.
Recommended Reading: Alexithymia Autism
Group Homes Create Families
Barbara Fischkin also helped create a home for her son Dan. She first shared the story of his miracle group homefunded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and run by the Nassau County Chapter of AHRC, a nonprofit grouptwo years ago. Then, she described it as a newly renovated house on Long Islanda place I call the frat house. Actually, it is a beautiful and smartly designed home that could be a model for such endeavors nationwide. And the guys, who are in their 20s and 30s, are all at the age when leaving home and family and striking out on your owneven if you need lots of staff to helpis something one yearns to do.
Two years later, she reports that Dan, now 24, and his three housemates become more like a family all the time. The guys look out for one another. Dan is still not verbal and has an aide most of the time but is making great progress with independent typing.
Board Games With A Twist
Teaching children manners can be a helpful way to boost social skills and explain the importance of being polite. This simple, but effective activity puts an etiquette-related twist on a simple game of chess, checkers, or mancala by requiring players to wish their opponent good luck or good game before and after they have played.
You May Like: Is Level 2 Autism High Functioning
What Can We Learn From Studying Severe Autism
Research into autism has risen rapidly in recent decades, along with the autism rate itself. But has one group been left behind?
Yes, according to some researchers. In a recent editorial, Dr. Matthew Siegel, a child psychiatrist and researcher, says that research into people severely affected by the condition has declined.1 This group includes people who have few spoken words, have intellectual disability, or have challenging behaviors. These youth have a form of autism that resembles the condition originally described in 1943, in a landmark article by psychiatrist Leo Kanner.2
Dr. Siegel is not alone in his assessment. Older children who speak few words make up the “neglected end of the spectrum,” according to other autism experts.3 Little is known about them because they have been left out of many research studies, those experts contend.
To reverse that trend, Dr. Siegel and other doctors and psychologists formed the Autism Inpatient Collection project, or AIC.4 The project has enrolled more than 1,000 youth ages 4 to 20 since it began in 2014. All were patients who had been admitted to special psychiatric units in one of six hospitals across the United States. Although hospital stays are relatively rare, children with autism are six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric problems than other children.5
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
Also Check: Is Level 2 Autism High Functioning
Study Found Gender Differences In Autism Severity Changes
- University of California – Davis Health
- A new study found that around 30 percent of young children with autism have less severe autism symptoms at age 6 than they did at age 3, with some children losing their autism diagnoses entirely. It also found that girls tend to show greater reduction and less rise in their autism symptom severity than boys with autism. Children with higher IQs were more likely to show a reduction in their symptoms.
During early childhood, girls with autism tend to show greater reduction and less rise in their autism symptom severity than boys with autism, a UC Davis MIND Institute study has found.
Early childhood is a period of substantial brain growth with critical ability for learning and development. It also is the typical time for an initial diagnosis of autism and the best time for early intervention. In the U.S., about 1 in 54 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder , with four times as many boys with ASD as girls.
Previous studies indicated inconsistent results in terms of changes in autism severity during childhood. The general sense was that the severity of autism at diagnosis would last a lifetime.
Change in severity of autism symptoms and optimal outcome
“It is also true that some children appear to get worse,” Amaral said. “Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to predict who will do well and who will develop more severe autism symptoms and need different interventions.”