Raising a child with autism can be challenging. Support should be a cornerstone of your life, both for your child and for you. By getting the proper treatment approaches set up and by having a solid help system of doctors, family, friends and autism support groups, you can help your child overcome many challenges.
You may suspect your child is autistic if you notice he displays certain characteristics. An autistic child may not make eye contact with you and may not show any facial expressions or body language when talking to you. An autistic child may not develop friendships with other kids. He may have difficulty communicating and understanding what you say to him. An autistic child may play repetitively with an object of interest. He may perform repetitions with his body, such as rocking or waving his hand in front of his face.
Take your child to the doctor if she displays autistic behaviors, and start treatment immediately. At home, you can study about autism and learn what triggers bring on bad behaviors in your child. Autistic kids might show stress over certain things and calm down over others. For example, your child may not like light, to be touched or certain types of movements. You can help create an environment that your child finds enjoyable as opposed to one that makes her uncomfortable. You can't go wrong by showing your child love and accepting her for who she is.
Kids with autism crave consistency, routines and schedules. Make sure your child eats at the same time each day, has the same bedtime and therapy time. Learn the techniques the therapist uses so that you can do them at home. For example, the therapist might communicate using sign language. You can do that, too, at home. Different therapies can include behavior therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, nutritional therapy and occupational therapy, all of which you can incorporate at home. When your child behaves in a good way, praise him and tell him why you are praising him. If your child has tantrums and can injure himself, safety-proof the house, possibly making some rooms, such as the kitchen, off-limits.
Learn to communicate in a nonverbal way with your autistic child. Sometimes, an autistic kid gives you nonverbal signals, and when you don't pick up on them, she has a tantrum. Learning the signals may prevent tantrums. Besides therapy, play with your child. An autistic child is still a child and may enjoy the same sorts of silly games that other children do. Experiment to see what makes your child smile.
You might be able to get help for your child through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This includes free or low-cost medical evaluations, speech therapy, psychological services, parent counseling and other specialized services.
- Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images