What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that causes issues with communication and social skills. An autistic person may have intellectual disabilities, motor and coordination issues, and physical health issues.
ASD is a spectrum disorder, meaning its effects differ from person to person. No two autistic persons have the same symptoms, with some persons showing mild and others showing severe symptoms.
Autism presents itself differently in every case. The symptoms generally appear in the early stage of childhood before the age of three. Here’s a list of s of how autism can present itself:
- Social Development: A child with autism can show social development impairments in their early childhood. These can include being less responsive to stimuli, emotions, or even their name, avoiding eye contact, or not showing simple gestures and expressions. Early intervention plays a critical role in improving social skills.
- Communication: Children by age three typically begin engaging in simple conversations, responding to their names, babbling, and communicating non-verbally to express themselves. Children with autism could have delayed development of such skills. They may not understand other people’s body language or expressions. Speech-language therapy can help them develop a range of language skills.
- Repetitive Behavior: Children with autism may exhibit repetitive behaviors like repeating words or sounds, jumping up and down. They may show the tendency to arrange objects a particular way, and any disruption could stress them out.
- Other symptoms: The child might exhibit exceptional skills in math, computer, art, extraordinary focus, and honesty. Some children with autism might also display physical and medical issues like gastrointestinal issues, epileptic seizures, or pica, an eating problem commonly seen in children with autism.
Autism does not have a definite cause or any particular cure. Nevertheless, a person affected by autism can live what we call an ordinary life. The key is early intervention. These children have a unique way of looking at life. So always try to look at things from their perspective to be able to help them. There are different therapeutic methods to help to improve the lives of people affected by autism.
Tips for Autism Parenting
Having your child diagnosed with autism could be very difficult. Autism doesn’t only affect the diagnosed person, but their family too. There could be concerns about finding the right doctors, therapists, schools, and resources. Support groups, support services, or talking with people having similar experiences allows you to understand the situation better. Here are some tips to help you with Autism parenting.
- Learn more about autism: It will help you make a better and informed decision for your child.
- Know your child in and out: Their bad triggers, and the good ones. Accept, embrace and enjoy your child’s quirks.
- Don’t be negative or compare your child to others: Focus on their abilities, try building upon them, and never compare them or be negative about their skills or behavior.
- Don’t be offended: Kids with autism need more space and patience. Discuss your child’s condition with family members and friends; make them aware that your child might avoid eye contact, physical interaction such as hugs and might say anything that is on his or her mind. Remind them not to be offended and understand their differences and Interact with them at their pace.
- Guide in purchasing gifts, toys, or planning outings: Gently remind family and friends of your child’s specific sensory issues, phobias, or environmental triggers to avoid unpleasant scenes or meltdowns while in their care.
- Teach relatives the necessary skills to assist your child or care for your child in your absence: Even if the care would be needed on an emergency basis, it requires family members to maintain and stick to schedules, special diets, and routines. Also, leave a list of service providers who can be contacted if the family caregiver has concerns or questions regarding your child’s behaviors or actions while you’re unavailable.
- Set up a schedule: Children with autism tend to do better when they have a consistent routine to follow.
- Reward good behavior: Positive and negative reinforcement can go a long way for a child with autism. Always cheer or award them whenever they behave or act in a good way or learn something new.
- Safety: An autistic child can have more chances to fall or get into accidents; as a parent, create a safe house and, if possible, a private space for your child, where they can relax and feel secure.
- Give time and love: Autistic children need more care and emotional support; make sure you give them enough time and extra care. Play with them and become their friends.
Grants and Scholarships
Understandably, having a family member with autism can be costly. There are several types of grants and scholarships offered around the US to help such people.
Service Dog Scholarships: There are more than a dozen scholarships that provide grants for service dogs to help families with children with autism or people with disabilities with regards to assistance and security. These dogs are highly trained to perform multiple tasks that increase personal freedom and independence, providing a better quality of life.
Recreational Scholarships: Such scholarships provide grants or cover costs of therapeutic or recreational projects to families that care for children with autism or adults with special needs. They make arrangements to send families to zoos, camps, amusement parks or arrange sporting events, swimming, music and dance sessions, etc.
Education Scholarships: Many scholarships provide funds to families with special needs for covering the cost of educational and skill-building programs. Some provide opportunities to children with autism to attend special schools, colleges, or trade schools to make them able to gain meaningful employment, achieve maximum independence and enhance their quality of life.
As there is no cure for autism, all you can do is make sure that they have a happy and healthy life and are always there for them. Connect with other families who have children with autism, share your child’s struggles and accomplishments. Know that you are not alone.