How To Cope And Care For Children With Autism

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Coping With AutismParents of children with autism may find themselves wondering what to do after their children receive the diagnosis. It is important to know that parents are not alone and that they can help their children and make it through this tough time. A wealth of information are available that can help parents care for their child and cope with the unknown. Although there is no set way to identify what will work for all children with autism, parents should try out different things to find out what works for the specific ability level and behavior of their child. Moving forward and staying positive is in the best interest of both parents and child.

Care For Children With Autism

Caring for a child with autism can be both difficult and rewarding. No matter the severity level of each child, it is important to be patient and understanding when providing care. Here are a few pointers that can make dealing with autism more comfortable:

  • Understand as much as possible about autism. Autism affects the communication and behavior of children. Read as much as possible about autism but remember that each child is different. Their personalities and moods vary so parents must understand this in order to handle various situations that may occur in the future.
  • Praise them often. Children with autism have a sense of pride in knowing that they have accomplished something. Do not let the accomplishment go unnoticed no matter how small. Always encourage them to strive to do their best.
  • Offer an open line of communication. It is important for parents to find ways to improve communication with their child. Children should always feel comfortable talking to their parents about any issue. Autistic children need routines in their daily lives so parents should establish regular chat sessions into the daily routines so that children feel comfortable communicating with their parents.
  • Allow your child to have some space. Kids may feel as if parents are invading their space when parents are only trying to get a better understanding of their child. Help them to understand the rules so that they are not frustrated or act out. Parents can be part of their children’s lives without hovering.
  • Establish and keep routines. An autistic child’s life gains structured with daily routines. Broken routines often cause a child to become frustrated and possibly act out against others. When introducing changes, parents must provide their child with ample time to adjust.
  • Foster social interaction with other children. Kids may or may not be interested in interacting with other children, but parents can provide opportunities for interaction. Parents can find something that their child is interested in and use it as a means for interaction with others. Never force a child to interact.
  • Supervise without being overbearing. A child with autism does not always know right from wrong. He or she may also have no sense of danger, making the child prone to dangerous situations. Keep an eye on the child and expect the worst. It is better to be safe than sorry.
  • Understand the child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). This document provides a roadmap of the educational and related services that an autistic child should receive. The child, parents, and school personnel should meet to create and discuss the education plan and make changes as needed. Parents should attend all meetings. The individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that the child receives a free and appropriate education (FAPE).
  • Keep a journal on the child. Parents can use this journal to identify patterns in behavior, triggers, and more to develop a history. This journal may help parents when they want to modify their child’s behavior.
  • Enroll the child in therapy. A child may learn various strategies in the therapy sessions. Parents may benefit from attending therapy so that they are aware of the interventions and can provide encouragement and assistance with these interventions at home. A few of the therapies that autistic children may benefit from include occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, behavior therapy, and sensory integration therapy.
  • Create a reward system. Reward the child’s good behavior with tokens or praise. Behavior intervention plans provide an excellent opportunity to reinforce desired behaviors. Parents must provide the child with the specifics of what they are rewarding since children with autism think concretely.
  • Provide a safe space for the child. It is common for a child with autism to experience hypersensitivity to light, noise, or other forms of stimuli. It is important to provide safe areas so that the child can escape and relax before re-entering the environment.
  • Use visual stimuli with the child. Autistic children are visually oriented. Children with autism may benefit from the use of visual stimuli to improve their performance in their daily routines. Verbal and nonverbal autistic children can benefit from the use of visual stimuli because it uses charts, graphic, pictures, and other forms of visual stimuli to help them remember schedules, instructions and more.
  • Allow the child to have some fun. Give the child the opportunity to step away from the therapies and structure to have some fun. Children still need to play since it is an essential element to learning.

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Coping With Autism

Even after a child receives an autism diagnosis, parents and the child may still have questions. It is important to get the right answers and have support in the process. Coping with autism may be very difficult, but with the right help, the future ahead can offer joy and hope. The following are tips for coping with autism:

  • Family counseling may be necessary. If communication barriers exist, parents should consider counseling for the entire family. These sessions will help to bridge the communication gap between all parties involved and assist with any questions that they may have.
  • Join a support group. These groups can provide support and encouragement to those affected by autism. Parents may want to look into joining local social services groups such as Autism Society of America and Autismlink. Group members share common experiences and offer information regarding services and providers. Parents and children with autism can reduce the social isolation associated with autism by utilizing these resources.
  • Use social media groups for interaction and resources. There are social media groups designed specifically for those affected by autism. Squag and Autism Speaks are a few of the social media groups that may be of interest to children with autism and their parents. Meeting and mingling with others that share common experiences may help with the coping process.
  • Solicit assistance from friends and family. Parents need to get a break away from their daily lives, and they can do so by utilizing respite care. It is a good idea to have friends and family members who can help with caring for a child with autism so parents can have some time to themselves. Parents should schedule outings from time to time so that they can do things that they enjoy.
  • Get involved in the community. Parents may want to participate in seminars, workshops, and activities that can help them to understand and cope with their child’s autism diagnosis. Children can use the community as a way to show off their special talents and make friends that share common interests.
  • Make friends with parents of children with autism. It may be of interest to build relationships with others affected by autism. Shared experiences may help to establish lasting friendships and provide a wealth of new information about autism. Online sites such as Wrong Planet can help parents and children get answers and meet new people without necessary venturing out into the public.
  • Keep a personal journal. Parents and children can use a journal to write down their most intimate thoughts and feelings, which may help with the coping process. The personal journal can also be used to write down questions and concerns in which others may be able to offer advice.
  • Show pride in the child. Accepting the autism diagnosis may be difficult for parents initially, but once everyone accepts it, they can move forward. Showing pride in your child is one of the ways that parents can move forward in a positive direction. Children with autism are usually really good in a specific area. Parents can celebrate this talent by supporting their child’s interests and showing others how proud they are of their child.
  • Be informed about everything related to the child’s autism. Parents are the biggest advocates for their children. If children cannot depend on their parents to be their voice, then whom can they trust? Informed parents are less stressed because they have a great deal of control over their child’s daily happenings. Parents should attend all doctor’s appointments and meetings with their child, especially school meetings. Parents have the right to participate in the education plans for their children and must sign off before any implementation of the plans.

Connecting Parents And Autistic Children

Parents and children must form a connection to help both parties cope with the autism diagnosis. Mutual respect is so important for this connection to work. The following are helpful tips that parents and their children can use to form connections:

  • Creating bonding experiences. It is important that parents and their autistic children bond together. They spend a significant amount of time together so it is a good idea that all parties get along and understand the other. Good ideas for bonding experiences may include camping trips, outings to the mall, and walks in the park. If parents and children share a common interest, it is much easier to bond with one another. Parents must be careful not to push their children too hard to bond because children may push their parents away instead.
  • Have a mutual respect for each other. Respect is the most important aspect of any relationship. Parents and children must actively listen to one another and consider the ideas and beliefs of the other for this relationship to prosper.

Also Read: Educating Children With Autism

Glossary of Terms

Understanding terminology associated with autism may be extremely difficult. The following list contains some of the most common words and definitions associated with autism:

  • Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) – A method of teaching autistic children that involves manipulating the environment to receive a desired response.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – A federal law that grants equality in transportation, employment, telecommunications, public accommodations, and government services for those with disabilities.
  • Assistive Technology – Electric and non-electric devices, materials, and equipment that help those with disabilities communicate, play, move, learn, and participate in activities at school, home, and the community.
  • Baseline – The functioning level of a child before instruction takes place.
  • Behavior Modification – The use of behavior changing techniques to improve behavior.
  • Comprehensive Evaluation – A complete assessment based on social, educational, health, and psychological components by a panel of professionals using information from parents and teachers.
  • Due Process Hearing – A hearing that allows parents to provide information regarding the school district’s inability to education their child effectively.
  • Dyspraxia – The inability of the brain to plan and carry out muscle movement.
  • Hypersensitivity – The absence of reaction to daily stimuli.
  • Inclusion – Integrating students with disabilities with their non-disabled peers (mainstreaming).
  • Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) – A federal law that allows children with known identified disabilities to receive a free, appropriate education in public schools in an environment that is least restrictive to their needs.
  • Individualized Education Plan (IEP) – A specially designed education plan that outline the related services and special education to meet the student’s educational needs.
  • Learning Disability – Difficulties in the use and acquisition of speaking, reasoning, listening, reading, mathematical, and writing abilities.
  • Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) – The use of pictures to communicate needs, spontaneous thoughts, interests, schedule activities, and ask and answer questions.
  • Respite Care – Care provided by institutions or individuals that allows parents and caregivers to have a break. Sometimes this care is funded by state agencies.
  • Self-Help Skills – Daily skills such as bathing, self-feeding, dressing, and other tasks that are pertinent to maintaining well-being and health.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – An income-based program provided by the federal government for those with disabilities.
  • Tactile Defensiveness – Profound physical sensitivity to certain sensations and textures.
  • Theory of Mind – The belief that one’s perceptions, desires, feelings, and thoughts are that of others.
  • Visual Spatial Skills – Skills that are sequential, nonlinear and depend on processing pictures, shapes, and colors rather than language.

Autism Support Groups And Resources

Support groups and resources are excellent ways to identify means to care for and cope with autism. Parents and their children may benefit from the following sources:

  • National Autism Resources – Resource for autism products, teaching materials,weighted vests, sensory toys, autism school supplies, oral motor tools, and more.
  • Autism Source – An online database that provides information regarding support and related services for autism.
  • Family Services – Provides help for parents so that they can find local services in their area. The site is individualized by state.
  • Free Autism Information – This site provides rich reading information, discussion forums, educational and general support for those affected by autism.
  • Parenting Tips – This site is designed to help parents of children with autism cope with daily living by offering assistance with education issues, safety tips and much more.
  • Special Services – An overview of services for autistic children and parental advice to help parents with their child’s educational needs.
  • IEP Information – This is a comprehensive guide to IEPs for autistic children and includes information of legal issues and rights, developmental issues, and evaluation and referrals.
  • Child’s Rights – Outlines the laws that protect children with disabilities.
  • Autism Assistance – Provides help with finding proper therapies. The services include rich research, fact sheets, and an online forum.
  • Treatment Assistance – Parents can explore autism treatment options such as a gluten-free diet, applied behavior analysis, and sensory integration therapy.
  • Everything Autism – Parents can get help here for ways to manage the stress of an autism diagnosis. Parents can get everything from coping strategies to financial assistance.
  • Autism Help – A helpful resource for parents to find treatment options and support for autism.

An autism diagnosis not only affects the child and parents but those around them. It is important to get the facts about autism and have a support system to handle caring and coping with autism. A wealth of knowledge available can help parents and their children live normal daily lives.

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