Early Scope

World Autism Awareness Day: Here's how an autistic child can blossom into an individual in his own right

Apart from proper medical care and therapies, simple steps will make a huge difference for you and your child. | Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Autism spectrum disorder or ASD is a neurological disorder that results in challenges in social interaction and communication of an individual. ASD begins from early childhood and persists throughout the lifetime of a person diagnosed with it. According to WHO, one in every 160 children is autistic. Though ASD is a lifelong condition, with early intervention and consistent training, many children can go on to lead independent and successful lives. However, in general, life can be pretty challenging for both autistic children and their parents – even when they take the view that autism just means a child has a different brain and skills that are no better or worse than those of non-autistic children. 

Parenting a child with a disability can be psychologically stressful. One constantly worries about the future of the child, or for what you may be doing wrong or right with their upbringing. While getting professional help is the first thing that is advised to parents of an autistic or any child with special needs, on this World Autism Awareness Day, here are a few other tips that may help you better understand the needs of your child and raise them effectively. 

Focus on the positive: Just like everyone else, even children with autism thrive on positivity. It means if they are praised for good behaviour, it makes them happy. Give them small rewards for this to get a more positive response from them in future. Always remember that accepting your kid for who he/she is the key.

Structure your routine and follow a schedule: Children with the spectrum disorder are more inclined towards timeliness. They tend to do their best when they are made to follow a time-bound routine. This helps them put their knowledge to better use and learning new skills easily. A routine with regular times for meals, therapy, playtime, school and bedtime should be set up for the kid. Try avoiding disruptions in the schedule as much as you can. If it is unavoidable, prepare your kid well in advance.

Also read: Facebook usage could boost happiness in autistic adults Incorporate playtime into your child’s schedule: Every child loves to play and it is no different in the case of children with ASD. Indulge in activities that are more fun instead of only therapy or education that would help your child to relax and make you bond better with him/her.

Create a safe zone at home: Create a zone at home for your child with ASD where they can relax and feel safe. Organize and set boundaries in ways your kid can understand which may include colour taping the area which is a go-to zone or hanging pictures. Remember that autistic kids respond better to visual imagery.

Involve your child: Whenever you go out for everyday regular activities, take your child along. Sometimes you might just not want to expose your kids to situations especially if their behaviour is unpredictable. But taking them out when you go to the supermarket or on a walk, helps them to get used to the world around them.

Communication is the key: Children with ASD most often use non-verbal cues for communication. So be aware and observant around them and you will easily be able to pick on their non-verbal cues like the sounds they make, their facial expressions, gestures on different occasions. This will help you to communicate with them better. Children with ASD display their frustration through tantrums. So instead of losing patience, find out what is bothering them.

Be in tune with your child’s sensory sensitivities: Children with ASD are typically hypersensitive - to touch, to light, sound, smell, taste and touch. Some might be under-sensitive to stimuli as well. Parents need to find out sensations that elicit a good response and those that trigger a bad response. If you know what makes your child stressed and what relaxes them, it will be easier for you to avoid untoward incidents with them which might hurt them deeply.

Never compare your child with another: Even if children of your child’s age or even those who are younger are able to accomplish tasks your child isn’t able to, comparing your child with them is the last thing you would want to do. Remember every child is special, so is yours, even if they are suffering from ASD. Treat them with ample, love, care, and understanding because that is what they reciprocate to.

Creating a customized treatment plan for your child: Always remember that no two children with autism are similar. What treatment plan works for one may not work for another because while some autistic children suffer from intellectual impairment, others are highly intellectually evolved. 

Seek therapy for yourself too: Remember, taking care of a child with special needs is both challenging and risky on a regular basis. But you are also just human. So take some time out for your self and seek therapy - it can be a rejuvenating experience because you will be heard without any disturbances or interruptions.