According to the CDC, 1 in every 59 children will be diagnosed with autism.
While autism is becoming better understood every year, for parents, finding out that your child is autistic is still a shock. If you don’t have experience with this condition, it can feel overwhelming.
If you’re a parent of an autistic child, keep reading. We’re bringing you a guide to caring for and helping children with autism.
Learn the Symptoms So You Can Better Understand Your Child
Living with an autistic child isn’t always easy. But it also doesn’t have to be impossible. Understanding which of your child’s symptoms can be attributed to autism and which are just a kid being a kid can help you better understand your son or daughter.
This can be incredibly useful when times get tough. Under the stress of a meltdown, it can be easy to lose your temper.
Understanding the symptoms of autism can help you remind yourself that your child may not be able to control his or her emotions or actions.
Common symptoms of autism include trouble making eye contact, impaired communication skills, and difficulty adjusting to change. Repetitive motions, like flapping hands, kicking feet, or fidgeting are also symptoms.
Become an Expert on all Triggers
An autistic child, much like any child, has certain things that will set him or her off. While a child without autism might throw a temper tantrum when told to go to bed or eat their vegetables, an autistic child might have triggers that are less obvious.
Even if you can’t prevent every trigger, knowing what they are can help you anticipate a breakdown. This will give you a chance to address the situation immediately, which might give you a chance to diffuse the situation.
Just as knowing when a child’s reaction or behaviors are a symptom, knowing your child’s triggers will help you better understand your child.
Triggers, like symptoms, vary from one child to the next. Many autistic children become easily overwhelmed by crowds, loud noises, and stressful situations.
Knowing if your child is upset by these situations can help you mediate them. You might visit the grocery store or other crowded places early in the day when they are less busy. Headphones can also be useful if you know you’ll be somewhere loud.
Make Your Home a Safe Space
In the face of sensitive triggers and physical and emotional symptoms, it can be easy to forget that your autistic child is still just a kid.
All kids need safe spaces where they can relax and just be a child. Even adults create safe spaces free of stress.
Creating a safe space for your autistic child is important. Your home is the most obvious space.
Soft lighting, quiet, and soft, comforting furnishings can all help make your child feel safe and protected at home.
Make an effort to keep your home that way. Go out to see friends if you know things might get noisy. Host birthday parties away from home. Keep your home clutter free and quiet, even on holidays, to preserve the safe space.
Find the Right Therapy
There may not be a cure for autism, but therapy can help children and adults manage their symptoms and learn important life skills.
Professional therapists understand all symptoms and signs of autism. Just as with couples therapy or other forms of therapy, the goal of therapy for autistic children is to get to the root of what is causing certain reactions so that those symptoms can be addressed.
They’ll be able to look at your child’s unique qualities and design plans that include sensory therapy, physical therapy, and other treatments to help your child manage his or her symptoms.
Therapy will also help your child develop important skills they’ll need later in life that you might not be equipped to help an autistic child learn.
Finding the right therapy for your child is important. Check out this website to learn more about ABA therapy service options for autistic children.
Set a Schedule and Stick to it
Besides attending regular therapy sessions, another important rule for dealing with an autistic child is to set a schedule and stick to it. Because autistic children often have trouble adapting to change, consistency is very important.
Meal times, play times, and other regular daily occurrences should happen on a set timeline. If you have to vary it, do so as little as possible.
Keeping to this schedule can help your child feel safe and secure. This can also make it easier to manage other symptoms of autism.
The need to stick to a schedule doesn’t necessarily mean never leaving home or taking vacations. When traveling or away for the day, try to keep normal meal times, nap times, and bed times as much as possible. For many autistic children, this can still be enough to keep them calm and happy.
Never Stop Fighting for More
Children with autism face roadblocks from the very start.
They won’t be able to attend the same classes as children without autism. They may not be able to participate in sports or other extracurricular activities. They may also face bullying from peers.
Unfortunately, autism makes it difficult for children to fight for themselves. That burden falls to their parents.
One of the most important things you can do for your child is fight for them. Fight for equal treatment, better resources, and the best care every step of the way.
Your child may not be able to acknowledge what you do for them, but don’t think that doesn’t mean it isn’t appreciated. Their happiness and health will be a sign that you are doing something right.
Helping Children with Autism
Helping children with autism is far from easy. But the love of an autistic child is pure and absolute, something that is rare in this world.
One mistake that many parents make when caring for a child with autism is neglecting their own health and happiness. Don’t forget that you need to take care of your own emotional and physical needs as well.
Building a network is a great way to take care of yourself, and to have someone else there to hold you accountable for taking the time to relax and stay healthy.
Check out this article next to learn a few tips for reaching out and making friends as an adult.