When many parents find out that their children have autism, the initial reaction may be of anxiety, denial or even anger. However, through education and a good support system, parents can learn to accept their child as he is and create the best possible environment for their autistic child.
Common Symptoms of Autism
The average parent realizes that something is different about their child by the time the child reaches 18 months of age. Autistic children usually find social interactions, verbal and nonverbal communication and pretend play very difficult. An autistic child may be especially sensitive to sight, touch, smell, hearing or taste and typically becomes extremely distressed over a change in her routine. She may also repeatedly perform specific body movements and may be unusually attached to certain objects.
A child with autism may not be able to start or maintain a conversation. He may prefer to gesture instead of using words. A child with autism may repeat words or commercials. Socially, he may be withdrawn and prefer not to make friends. He may also lack empathy and treat others as if they were objects.
Common behaviours in an autistic child may include having intense tantrums and aggression towards self or others. Her interests may be very narrow. She may use repetitive body movements.
How Parents Can Help
As soon as you recognize signs of autism in your child, immediately seek the help he needs instead of hoping that things will improve on their own. The sooner autism care treatment is started, the better thing will be for your child. The following tips may also be helpful:
??? Educate Yourself. Many misconceptions about autism exist. Therefore, a parent needs to become as educated as is possible about the treatment options available for their child.
??? Know Your Child. Closely observe your child and figure out what makes her behave badly. Understand what causes her to feel stressed and uncomfortable, as well as what makes her feel calm and happy. This can go a long way in helping your child and in maintaining a peaceful atmosphere in your home.
??? Provide Consistency. Children with autism typically have trouble putting into practice what they’ve learned in one place in another setting. For example, they may use sign language when in therapy, but not remember to use it at home. Parents should learn techniques that their children are being taught in therapy and put them in place at home to provide their child with consistency.
??? Stick to a Set Schedule. Children with autism thrive on a highly-structured routine. Set regular times for meals, school, therapy and bedtime. Try to avoid disrupting the routine and prepare your child in advance if any changes are unavoidable.
??? Reward Good Behaviour. Giving positive reinforcement and praising a child for behaving well can go a long way. Specifically commend her for a new skill she’s learned or when she acts appropriately. Giving her a sticker or letting her play with her favourite toy may be a good reward.
??? Identify Nonverbal Cues. An observant parent can pick up on facial expressions and gestures that their child uses when he is hungry, tired or if he wants something. This way a parent can react to the needs of the child before things escalate into a tantrum or other bad behaviour.