Autism is defined as a lifelong developmental disability. This can affect many aspects of autistic people’s lives including learning, how they think, forming relationships with people and other aspects as well.
However, each autistic person is different in terms of how severe their condition is. This can range from mild to high-functioning. There have even been cases of autistic people with savant syndrome.
This is defined as having extraordinary or unique abilities in one area. However, the chance of this occurring is extremely rare and it is estimated there are fewer than a hundred autistic savants.
The 1988 film Rain Man, starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, has a character named Raymond Babbitt who has savant autism.
Autism Symptoms Include:
- Poor Eye Contact
- Learning Disability
- Flat or Monotonous Speech
- Repeating Words or Phrases
- Repetitive Movements
- Flat Facial Expressions
- Withdrawal From Social Situations
- Wanting To Be Left Alone
However, many parents make the mistake of not knowing if their child has autism, despite the symptoms. There are two ways to know if your child has autism, which is either:
- Online Test – This could be something like a quick 2-minute self-diagnosis test. Asks questions related to social skills, verbal communication, body movements, light intensity, any symptom that is associated with an autism spectrum disorder.
- Autism Assessment – If you think your child has autism but you are not completely sure, you can always get referred to for an assessment by your GP or any special needs staff at the child’s school. An appointment will then be booked several months in advance. At the appointment, a psychiatrist and other health professionals will ask questions about your child’s development. This could include questions like verbal communication, social skills, health, body language. This is to get an idea, if they match common autistic traits.
This could be covered in one appointment or even several appointments. After this is concluded, you will be called to come in by the medical health team or you will be given a report. The aim of this is to say whether or not your child is autistic, what he/she might need help with and what their strengths are.
Upon realization that their child is autistic, many parents are unsure of where to turn to for extra help. But there are options available including:
- Speech Therapy – Strengthens the jaw and mouth muscles, improves their verbal and non-verbal skills.
- Occupational Therapy – Allows children with autism to be more independent at home and school. This includes handwriting, motor skills and living skills.
Related Article: What is Non-Verbal Autism
What not to do with an Autistic child?
That is a large question in itself. It is not a question that can be simply answered in one sentence. It is a lengthy process to answer this question, which is why I wrote this article
In this article, I will discuss the following headings:
- How you can communicate with a child with autism
- How you can calm an autistic child from screaming
- How you can raise and up bring your child.
This article will end with a conclusion, where I will discuss the awareness about autism taking place and how it is being recognized as a disability.
How do you communicate with a child with autism?
A known symptom of autism is a marked deficit in verbal communication skills. As a result, it can often be difficult for autistic children to have proper conversations with people. These are just a few guidelines to help communicate with autistic children.
Start Small: Like everything in life, the best way to achieve something is to start with the basics. In this area, it could be simple terms like “Hello”, “Good Morning”, “How are you?” etc said by people towards autistic children. This small talk should also be encouraged to be said by autistic children. It creates a level of trust and loyalty between the two parties and makes further progress easier in the future.
Pick Out A Schedule: Autistic people are widely known to have linear schedules on a weekly basis.
Furthermore, it is not recommended to engage with them when they are busy, as you would not get through to them as much.
It is best to have a conversation with them when they have free time for it, and also when they are in a calm and quiet mood.
Let Them Decide What To Talk About: Autistic people are well-known for having obsessions on a particular topic. This could be anything from football to a cartoon series like Tom and Jerry.
This should be a good starting point on how to have a conversation with an autistic child. It helps to engage them more in this area. One downside to this, is that they can spend potentially hours talking about a particular topic, that the other person will start to get bored. However, it goes a long way towards the development process.
Keep It Simple: Finally, it is recommended that the language used towards autistic children is kept simple enough for them to understand. The pace of the conversation should be suitable enough for the autistic child to take in.
How do you calm an autistic child from screaming?
It is expected that your child will have screaming tantrums or as it is more commonly known as meltdowns.
Of course, every autism case is unique to its own, as to whether how mild or severe it is, but this will all be spoken of in detail by the psychiatrist during the autism assessment. There are several benefits of sensory toys to children with autism:
- Promotes Sense of Touch – Sensory toys are well known for having squishy, fun and colorful exteriors. This is especially helpful as it can help get them more comfortable with this sense, especially touching loved ones.
- Helps Improve Their Social Skills – This is especially true when they are talking to people. As it improves their neural processing systems, it helps bring them to a calmer state of mind.
- Reduces Anxiety – Autistic children who play with sensory toys feel more confident about themselves and this reduces anxious habits such as nail-biting, lip biting. This method is especially recommended to calm and relax the child, especially if they went through a traumatic event or scenario, or any stressful event even.
- Improves Their Motor Skills – Helps them to better understand how to pick up large and small objects better. Also useful for understanding rules and activities.
Related Article: How to Discipline Autistic Child for Hitting
Useful Autistic Toys
These are just examples of four products that can help an autistic child.
Marketed towards kids with autism and ADHD, this product consists of three durable and non-toxic panda stress balls, with each one having a different design to it. It is a perfect sensory toy for kids. They can be great stress relievers for blowing off some steam, releasing tension and for better focusing and concentration skills.
Recommended by YoYa Toys
These Monkey Noodles are perfect to stretch, pull, twirl, wrap and squeeze and are always brought back to their original shape. They are strong and durable and are safe to use. These are great for children with autism as they help promote a sense of calm, reduce stress and anxiety and increase focus and attention.
Recommended by Impresa Products
These balls come in a variety of different colors and faces. Made of soft PU material and is non-toxic, these balls are easy to bounce back and durable to play. Perfect to release anxiety and stress. Great for hand therapy and for hand squeezing.
Recommended by VCOSTORE
Consists of two timers that move up and down and also a spiral timer that moves from side to side. These can be used with the intent of providing focus and relaxation as children become entranced by the bubbles for hours.
Recommended by HeyWhey Toys
Parenting a child with Autism spectrum disorder
Parenting in itself is not easy, however, being the parent of an autistic child is harder. Likewise raising a child with autism a day-to-day challenge. These are some tips that can help make it easier to parent and raise a child with autism.
Safety Proofed Home:
This includes the likes of safety gates and doorknob locks. This is especially useful if your child has tantrums or is prone to self-harm.
Oftentimes, it is found that what one autistic child learns in one setting, they find it hard to apply to another setting. There should be a consistent learning schedule throughout the child’s life.
For example, the child could be learning sums in school. The parent or parents could also play a part in teaching the child this topic. This should be encouraged in ways such as flip charts or handouts.
Meltdowns in an autistic child are caused by sensory issues. Physical disciplines such as yelling, spanking, timeout are usually not effective in disciplining a child with autism. Instead, parents should rely on routine and repeated exposure to teaching their autistic children rules and boundaries.
This method should be used if your child does something good. This could range from stickers if they get a math question correct. Or if they learn how to ride their bicycle correctly, you could treat them to an ice-cream. They will associate these rewards by good behavior. This method is especially useful for non-verbal autistic children.
Joining Autism Support Groups:
Often parents of autistic children feel that they are stuck alone with no support. However, there are autism support groups available. This connects parents of autistic children together. This is a great help as it creates co-operation in the ways caring for their children works or doesn’t work.
“What not to do with an autistic child?”. Now that this question has been answered, I will finish off this article with my conclusion.
Awareness of autism has increased around the world. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of lack of knowledge from a public perspective.
In some ways, the autism movement is going through the same process as the Women’s Marches and the Black Civil Rights Movement in 1960s America, in that autistic people, are becoming a more equal group in society and their condition is being seen as a positive force in society, and not a disease.
There are several ways in which autism is being recognized more globally:
World Autism Awareness Day:
Every 2nd April every year is World Autism Awareness Day. Member states of the United Nations are encouraged to take part in this event every year.
Hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes and communities come together to take part in this event. The Light It Up Blue campaign, in which blue is the recognized color of this event, is worn in recognition of people with autism and those who love and support them.
Autism Friendly Towns
In the Republic of Ireland, there has been an incentive to designate several towns autism-friendly. As of 2020, the list is as follows:
- Clonakilty, Co. Cork
- Skerries, Co. Dublin
- Lucan, Co Dublin
- Castlebar, Co. Mayo
- Slane, Co. Meath
- Mallow, Co. Cork
- Greystones, Co. Wicklow
- Bray, Co. Wicklow
- Tralee, Co. Kerry
- Listowel, Co. Kerry
- New Ross, Co. Wexford
Clonakilty, which was Ireland’s first autism-friendly town had to go through a specific process to meet the criteria. It had to develop a three-year autism-friendly town plan in conjunction with local businesses.
Public businesses and services had to have training on how to engage with the autistic community, including keeping mind of sensory issues that might come into the hand for autistic customers.
However, this is not just an Irish phenomenon. Other autism-friendly towns include Aylesbury in the United Kingdom and Austin in Minnesota, United States.
Quiet rooms have been set up in schools for students with autism, in case they have meltdowns. Dublin City University, also known as DCU, has been reported to be Ireland’s first autism-friendly campus. Sensory pods have been installed on the campus. In it comes a sliding door, soft blankets, pillows, speakers, air-conditioning and multi-colored lights.
In Short, there is a lot of awareness and facilities available for Autistic you just need to make sure that being a parent you know your child’s rights and with your consistent efforts and research you will be able to up bring your child the way he/she deserves.
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