Tips for raising an autistic child
There are four words that will change your life forever, “your child has autism.” No one is ever fully prepared to hear those four words or for what those four words actually mean. Having a child with autism means that depending on the severity you could be looking at life long care for them to get through each day. The cause of autism can not yet be pin pointed, there is no cure to speak of and research is not progressing fast enough to suite desperate parents.
Raising a child is difficult but raising a child with autism calls for things that you would never dream of doing in order to help them become self sufficient adults. Sadly institutions for autistic individuals still exist making keeping children out of these facilities a focus that dominates their parent’s days. The journey is long and exhausting with these children but well worth it in the end. There are some tips that will make raising your autistic child seem like less of a struggle against the world and more like you’re simply enjoying the time you have with your child.
Accepting the diagnosis and educating yourself
The first step in raising an Autistic child is to accept the diagnosis and that your child will have needs other child won’t have. The more you educate yourself about your child’s specific diagnosis and Autism in general the more help you can be to your child. Talk to your doctor, specialists, therapists and nutritionists in order to ensure you are using all the resources available to you.
Autistic children are very smart, they just tend to learn differently than other child in that they are often more visual.
The social norms that everyone else is ruled by are foreign to them making them more prone to inappropriate and seemingly manipulative actions. Tantrums can last for hours even after you have left the room and giving into tantrums makes them more likely to reoccur in order to get what is desired. These children may line up things, color coordinate or have to have everything just so before they can do anything.
Delays in development
Autistic child can show delays in development such as an inability to speak or simply echo words or they could have difficulty with day to day task such as feeding and dressing themselves. The severity of the Autism Spectrum disorder will affect how much difficulty they have in these and areas of socialization. It can seem as if autistic children are in their own world where those around them do not exist.
Children diagnosed prior to age three can obtain early intervention services where they are available. Some of these services can be provided in the home and are well worth looking into.
Search for speech, occupational and Applied Behavior Analysis therapies in your area. Speech can assist in language development, communication and even social skills while occupational therapy can help with daily tasks such as dressing and eventually household task.
Applied Behavior Analysis is a science driven therapy that aids these children in learning appropriate behaviors while eliminating negative behaviors though a system of rewards and other reinforcement for positive behavior while ignoring or redirecting negative behaviors.
Camps and school programs seek out camps and school programs tailored to the individual needs of your child. The IEP meeting is the most important one that you can attend. Make sure that you are matching each program and IEP goal to your child’s strengths and that all the goals you set are set for reasonable time periods. Goals should have visible results.
Diets and supplements
Autistic children can sometimes benefit from special diets and nutritional supplements. Talk to your doctor, a nutritionists and if available an autism specialists to design a program that suits your child best. The supplements are used to aid the cells in doing what they should be doing anyway and some have seen amazing results from them. There are tests to find food sensitivities that can cause your child intestinal issues and blood test to find vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Reward positive behavior
When your autistic child does something positive reward them. The rewards can be small since they’ll gradually earn them more often. For instance a tantrum in the floor is ignored while sitting down at the dinner table gets a cheer of “good job.” A child that you are placing a demand on can have the “first, then” technique applied. First, sit down then jelly bean. Sitting down is the presented task and the jelly bean is the reward.
Ask for help
Even super heroes don’t do their job alone and you shouldn’t either. Ask family and friends for help; join a support group to meet others with Autistic children. When it comes to an autistic child everyone has to be on the same page or all those little steps forward could be accompanied by some giant steps backwards. As hard as it is to get your child on track the first time it’s even harder to get them on track a second time.
Raising an autistic child is demanding, expensive and also one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have.
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