It’s usually troubling and stressful for parents when their children are diagnosed with any disease no matter how dangerous it may be. All parents want their children to be happy and healthy. When it comes to serious lifelong conditions such as autism, parents may be especially frightened, confused, and concerned about what to do and how to help their children. The most useful thing you can do is not panic or despair; although this disorder cannot be cured, there are many treatment therapies and program plans that can help autistic children to learn, grow, and live happy lives.
If your child is diagnosed with autism, here are some helpful things to know:
-Don’t be afraid. Although looking after a child with autism is challenging, knowledge and a positive attitude can help you remain strong and capable to be a good parent and help your child live with easier with autism. It’s important to not give up. Many parents feel discouraged with how they think their child’s life will be. The truth is, autism is very unpredictable, and many children, with the right love and support from their parents, successfully grow and develop their abilities higher than originally expected. Children with autism need to be accepted. Avoid thinking how your child is different from other kids and focus more on unconditional love. This will help your child more than you can imagine. Learn as much as you can about autism and don’t hesitate to ask questions. You’ll understand autism behavior problems better and be better equipped to choose the right treatment option.
-Know your child. Children with autism communicate through their unique, nonverbal language. Parents can easily learn to understand this nonverbal communication by being observant and aware. Pay attention to sounds, facial expressions, special movements and learn the triggers. Observe your child’s behavior when he/she is hungry, afraid, frustrated, tired, or in need of attention. Children with autism are usually hypersensitive to sounds, smells, or touches. Find out what triggers disruptive behavior and what calms them down, what they find uncomfortable and enjoyable. It will help you organize better to avoid stressful situations and create a positive experience as much as possible. You don’t need to talk to bond with an autistic child. You can communicate through body language, touch, tone of voice, or the way you look at your child.
-Provide safety and structure. Children with autism thrive on consistent structure and can be very sensitive to the slightest changes in daily routines. This is because they find it particularly difficult to adapt to new settings. Their sensory processing is out of sync, they often feel new environments or situations to be hostile and it’s their natural reaction to defend themselves. Create a personalized time schedule for meals, play, school, and bedtime. Avoid unnecessary changes. EX: if your child is used to keeping toys arranged in a certain way, don’t change it; or if your child has a favorite place inside the house to play, make sure this place is always available. Generally, keep changes in routines at a minimum, and when those changes are necessary, prepare your child in advance.
-Find support. It’s normal to have days when you feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Being a parent is stressful and caring for an autistic child is especially difficult. Remember, you shouldn’t and you don’t need to do everything on your own. Don’t let anxiety and stress get to you. Seek counseling. A good therapist can help you overcome problems that living with an autistic person can cause between family members. Find out what kind of support your local community offers to children with autism. Joining an autism support group is helpful as you will be able to share your experiences and important information with other families. If it’s possible to get respite care for children with autism, use it. Taking care of yourself is the first step in taking care of your autistic child. This is not selfish; it’s necessary. Also, find out what kind of free government services for children with autism are available. It will help your child to receive specialized services such as medical and psychological examinations, various therapies, and special education programs, as well as training or counseling for all family members.
Children with autism are in great need of help; however, with the appropriate support and treatments, they can develop learning and growing abilities better, live with their disability easier, and grow into happy individuals.