Autism is the name given to one of a series of developmental problems, which are referred to as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of autism normally appear in childhood, before the age of 3. The symptoms and severity of autism can vary significantly from one child to another, but the diagnosis of an autistic child is apt to be an emotional and frightening time for any parent. If your child has been diagnosed with autism, consider the following five tips to help you cope effectively with this increasingly common condition.
Implement a treatment plan. A personalized autism treatment plan can greatly benefit your child, by introducing a structured and productive schedule of activities to help with his or her needs. Remember that this must be tailored to the individual and should reflect your child’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as prioritize the areas that need attention first. According to Autism Speaks, knowing that your child is engaging in meaningful activities can greatly help you focus on managing the condition.
Provide structure. Children with autism thrive on consistency and routine. By providing structure for your child, through regular commitments and activities, an autistic child is much more able to cope with daily life. Create a routine for meal times, school and bedtime, and stick to it. Try to ensure a consistent approach at school and at home. Ensure that you know what your child’s therapists are doing at school, and try to mirror this at home.
Learn to communicate. An autistic child may struggle to communicate in the ways that other children develop instinctively. Learn to pick up on the non-verbal clues that your child offers, and learn to interpret tantrums as a way for your child to communicate. Remember also that autistic children are very often hypersensitive to certain sounds, tastes, smells and tastes. Find out which experiences create a positive response and those that are more disruptive.
Ask for help. As pointed out by Autism Speaks, parents of autistic children often find it hard to ask for help, particularly at an early stage. You should never be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help or support. A host of resources are available to you. Remember also that your friends and family will want to help, but may not be confident about what they should or should not do. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with the simple things like shopping or washing clothes so that you have more time to spend with your children.
Join support groups. Sharing your experiences with other parents and carers can be enormously beneficial when it comes to caring for an autistic child. Support groups can provide information about the help that is available in your area and are likely to organize events to help parents in the same position pool resources and help each other out. You can underestimate the hope and comfort that a support group can bring, simply from realizing that many other people are in the same position as you.