What to Do When You’re Raising a Child With AutismPosted:
If your child has been recently diagnosed with Autism, you are probably feeling overwhelmed about the future. Raising a child with autism is challenging, but not as difficult as you think if you have the right plan of action.
It is important to know that you are not alone, in fact, according to research, 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) every year.
Yes, it is true that autism is incurable and it will stick with your child for life. However, with the right knowledge and support, your child can live a normal life full of possibilities, growth, and friendships.
So the problem is, what is the best action plan to take when your child is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder? The last thing you want to do is make them more agitated.
Keep on reading to learn all there is to know about raising a child with autism. We are in this together.
Get the Support You Need
In order to support your child adequately, you need to first learn how you can get support yourself. There are many resources (both local and national) that can help you through the hard times of raising a child with autism.
ASD Support Groups
There are many local support groups with other parents who also are raising a child with autism. Reach out to your community or the autism foundation to learn more. Being around others who understand and support you will make a profound impact on you and your child.
Just like the flight attendants direct you to put on your own oxygen first, the same goes for life and your troubles of raising a child with autism. Having a safe space to openly talk about your struggles will make a big difference. This will also help with the impact that raising a child with special needs has on your relationship with your spouse.
Every now and then you (and your spouse) need a break to yourselves to decompress from the stress of life. This can be challenging to do as you may feel fear of leaving your child with the wrong person. There are respite services available for those who have a child with ASD, these caregivers are highly trained to give the right care for your child.
Provide a Structured and Safe Environment
Think of your child’s mind as a filing system or a timeline. If something is out of place or line, it could cause your child to feel anxious and have an episode.
Having a predictable routine will ease your child’s mind and nerves. Make sure their activities of daily living are structured at the same time and in the same way every day, including:
- Waking up
- Brushing their teeth
- Eating all of their meals at the same time
- Going to School
- The way they get dressed (set up their clothes the same way every day)
It is important to let the other people in your life, such as your child’s teachers know that they must also follow a routine with your child. This will reduce the number of anxious episodes from happening.
Reward Their Good Behavior
While your child may not respond the same way as other children, they are more in tune with emotions than you may think. In fact, children with autism have been linked to higher IQ and more chance of discovering their inner genius!
Positive reinforcement works very well with ASD, so when they do something good or learn something new, make sure you reward them and acknowledge what it is they did right.
Home should feel like a relaxing and safe environment for your child. In order to have that, everything must be well organized and labeled appropriately for your child to see.
The places that are off-limits should be marked with colored tape, which is a great way to keep them responsive to their environment. Also, you need to safety proof your house and remove any sharp objects or items that could fall if your child is prone to experiencing tantrums or outbreaks.
Learn Other Forms of Communication
Children with ASD may be challenged in certain areas, however, they tend to be more gifted in other areas such as picking up non-verbal communication. When communicating with your child, try to focus less on what you say, but more on how you say it.
This includes the tone of voice you use, the way you look at your child, your body language when you speak, and the way you touch them while you are speaking.
There is a lot of energy behind non-verbal communication that your child is excellent at receiving, and giving.
Pay attention to their facial expressions and tone of voice and gestures they use when they are hungry, upset, confused, or happy. By knowing these cues, you could help them easier and prevent a tantrum from happening.
Most tantrums happen because they are frustrated with their needs not being met, once you discover their cues for needs, they are less likely to have an outburst or reaction.
Also, pay attention to what makes your child happy and create an atmosphere of fun for them, this can help you to bond more with your child and find something that you can do together.
Find the Right Treatments
There are countless options of treatments for your child with ASD, so it is essential to know what treatment is best for them for the level they are at.
A lot of parents find that a variety of treatments works best for their child, especially while at a young age. This includes speech therapy, play-based therapy, cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, nutritional therapy, animal therapy, and occupational therapy.
Knowing your child’s strengths and weaknesses will help you to discover the best form of treatment for them. This service area has the right plan of action to discover what your child needs at each stage of their life.
Learn More About Raising a Child With Autism
Raising a child with autism will be challenging and extremely exciting all at once. Having a plan of action and knowing your rights as a parent will help you through the hard times ahead.
If you found this article helpful, check out more like this in the parenting section of our blog.
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