Autism and ADHD are two common childhood medical conditions; that you may be familiar with or at least you have heard one of these words somewhere.
As a parent, sibling or caregiver, it is baffling and overwhelming to receive news that a child has been diagnosed with autism.
It is never easy to learn that someone you love has a serious health or developmental condition. From a little digging, here is what I have been to gather about the disorder and moving past it and how to support your loved ones.
How to Identify Children With Autism:
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.
Signs and Symptoms in Children With Autism
Autism usually appears before a child is 3 years old. Some signs of autism may be evident as early as 10 to 12 months, and certainly by 18 months.
Varying widely, signs and symptoms in children with autism typically include: Impaired communication skills, Difficulty in making eye contact, Repetitive behaviors and activities such as arm flapping, head banging, or twirling an object over and over, Rigid behavior and difficulty with change and transitions, Narrow range of interests and activities.
Causes of Autism:
In contrast to Down’s Syndrome, autism can be caused due to an array of reasons like developmental complications. Most scientists believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors cause autism.
Parenting or How to Support An Autistic Child:
Having an autistic child to care for, your life may seem a bit isolated due to the difference in pace and approach toward their growth but not all is lost, though, since modern medicine, psychology, education, and childcare systems have joined hands to make this a simpler journey for parents and autistic children alike. It is possible for you to teach them survival skills, communication, and education to a certain level. Below are seven tips that can help you help them live a better life every day.
- Increase familiarity with their name: One of the main issues experienced by the parents of children with autism is retaining their attention. However, the logic behind them not being able to focus on you or your instructions is actually quite simple. When you speak to them with long or ambiguous words, it may become difficult to understand what you actually mean. Instead, form a simple way to get their attention and develop their sense of recall. Use their name extensively to get them familiar with it, so that the next time they hear you say it, they know they are being spoken to directly.
- Simplify your communication: As developed humans, we are able to take on a slew of tasks and instructions of varied complexities at once. But for an autistic child, this may become too overwhelming, leading to temper tantrums, freeze response, or non-reactiveness. Using the tools available online and for free, try developing a simplified yet structured way of communication that can help them understand you, and communicate back with ease. This can start at an early age with a mix of symbols, objects, touch, sound, and gestures. As they get comfortable picking up on various cues, you can make your communication more generalized so that teachers and helpers can reach them as well.
- Follow up on your legal aid: Have you been feeling the budget crunch due to the money spent on therapies? There are several cases of autism that were the result of pregnant mothers relying on the perceived trustworthy Tylenol. However, it led to symptoms and the development of autism in many fetuses, leaving the parents dealing with the aftermath. To secure the future of your child and to help them get all the resources they need on a daily basis, you need to fight for their rights. With the help of your lawyer, check up on Tylenol autism lawsuit financing remedies to receive the care your child needs. This will also open up doors to the best medical experts and therapists who can help your child thrive despite autism.
- Give them time to understand and execute instructions: Autism and ADD are known to impact the learning ability of children affected by it. So, while your child is getting used to what you’re teaching them, give them time. They may require several tries to get the basics right, while a non-autistic child may get it right in the first go. Also based on spectrums, some may struggle more than others. Be patient and give them their time to learn.
- Help them with expressing their emotions: One of the most challenging aspects when it comes to raising children with autism is helping them with emotional outlets. Since they aren’t quite yet adept at expressing how they feel, parents may be left perplexed and frustrated. To help you understand exactly what your child is feeling, teach them the basics of emoting their feelings through sound buttons, emojis, and so on.
Written with context from Ameyaw Debrah.