Autism is a mental condition that impairs a child’s ability to communicate and interact with others. It is a life-long, developmental disability that prevents children from understanding what they see, hear and sense. Hence, it requires special care and treatment.
It is necessary for all of us to help autistic children overcome the challenges and live a normal life. Before understanding how to help them, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of autism.
There are generally two types of behaviors through which you can identify the disorder in children:
Restrictive/ Repetitive Behaviors
- Unusual overly focused interests, such as with moving objects or parts of objects
- Intense interest in certain things such as numbers, facts or details
- Repeating certain behaviors
Social Communication/ Interaction Behaviors
- Difficulty in communicating with others
- Unusual facial expressions, movements and gestures
- Unusual tone of voice
- Trouble understanding another person’s point of view or actions
- Little or inconsistent eye contact
Few tips things that can help you understand the disorder and help children with autism are:
PROVIDE STRUCTURE & SAFETY
Learn about autism as much as you can. This will help you a lot in understanding the autistic child and take decisions for him/her. It has been seen that autistic children tend to do best when they work in a structured routine. Few things that you can do to make daily routine easier to follow for an autistic child are:
- Set up a schedule
Set up a schedule for the kid, with regular times for breakfast, lunch, therapy, school and bedtime. Make sure that the kid is following the routine.
- Reward good behaviour
Praise them when they learn a new skill or act appropriately. Look for other ways to reward for good behaviour such as gifting a toy.
- Be consistent
Autistic children find difficulty in adapting what they are learning in therapy sessions at office or school. Find out what they are learning at therapy sessions and encourage them to continue the same at home.
FIND NON-VERBAL WAYS TO CONNECT
Autistic children find difficulty in communicating with others. Hence, connecting with them can be challenging. However, you can communicate with them by other ways. Learn non-verbal ways to communicate with time. Pay attention to their behaviours.
Many autistic children are hypersensitive to sound, light, smell and taste. Figure out what things trigger disruptive behaviours and what cause a positive response.
CREATE A PERSONALIZED AUTISM TREATMENT PLAN
There are many treatment options available for autism. Hence, it can be hard to figure out which option is good for your child. An autistic child’s treatment plan should be tailored according to his/her needs. These things can help you easily figure out the option.
What are his/her weaknesses?
What are his/her strengths?
What behaviours are causing the most problems?
What are the activities he/she enjoy the most?
What important skills is he/she lacking?
FIND HELP AND SUPPORT
While taking care of an autistic child, you may feel overwhelmed, discouraged or stressed. Find help and support whenever you need. Join autism support groups. This is a great way to meet other people dealing with the same challenges you are. Get advice and share information with others. This will help you learn new ways to cope up with the challenges.
MAKE TIME FOR FUN
Don’t forget that a kid with autism is still a kid. Figure out ways to have fun together by keeping in mind the things that make the child happy.