Kids with autism spectrum disorder can greatly benefit from the several treatment techniques that are now available for them. One of these techniques that are most often seen in any autism clinic is play therapy.
Compared to most mental disorders, autism is rather new. It was not until 1943 that Dr. Leo Kannerdiscovered that autism was a real disorder. In fact, up until then, those with the condition were considered to be “retarded” or “idiots.” Kanner described children with autism as being contained within themselves and self-satisfied. Incredibly, even after autism was recognized, Kanner and many experts in the psychology field blamed this disorder on the mothers, saying she was not giving the child enough attention and affection. We now know that this was all wrong and that autism is actually part of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), which includes what used to be known as Asperger’s Syndrome, high-functioning autism, and pervasive developmental disorder, among others. It has been discovered in children as young as six months old, but sometimes is not noticed until the child starts school.
“Her name is Misha*.”
I looked at the child in front of me, her smile so big that her eyes are squinting, her hair in pigtails. She seemed so friendly and carefree that I can’t help but smile widely at her in return.
“Teacher, she’s somewhat special.”
And that was how I met Misha for the first time.
For most normal children, Christmas is a beautiful festive time filled with merriment. It means being surrounded by friends and family members, most of whom we only get to see once a year. Christmastime signifies lighted trees and other Christmas decors, songs about jingling bells, Santa visiting houses through chimneys and, most of all, lots and lots of gifts. But these very same things that other kids enjoy are potential minefields to children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
What could be simple Christmas joys to others could cause autistic children to break into a meltdown. Under these circumstances, how do families of youngsters with ASD cope up with the holidays and still enjoy it?
We Do Little Changes As Much As Possible
Routine is essential to individuals who have autism. The many changes Christmas or any other holiday bring – like the decorations, the loud music, fireworks and the lights – overwhelm them as they are a huge step away from their norm. A mom of a 13-year-old with classic autism learned that toning down their home’s “Christmas spirit” – putting fewer decors and lights and doing away with things that seem to cause distress – helped her son get more used to the holiday.
“We introduced him to the Christmas tree at the age of four,” she narrated. “He became excited opening his presents at 10 and started appreciating Christmas lights just recently. He never sits with us during Christmas dinners, though. And he’s scared of Santa.”
Christmas Shopping Could Mean Trouble So Be Ready
A mother of two kids with autism has this to say about Christmas shopping: “My four-year-old breaks down at about half an hour into the shopping. Fortunately, he doesn’t throw tantrums, just sit down on wherever he’s at and refuses to budge. When this happens, I have to pick him up, and it’s going home time for us. My teenager is another matter. I have one to two hours tops before she starts fussing. With her, I make a list beforehand and then just grab whatever’s in the list within that limited timeframe.”
Opportunely, some 4,000 stores in the UK took part in the Autism Hour recently, organized by the country’s National Autistic Society. Autism Hour gets participating stores to offer a calmer ambiance to customers with autism to make shopping less distressing – turning down lights, switching off TV screens and the music and orienting the staff and other customers about the move – for one hour.
“My son was calmer and relaxed throughout the hour we spent in the shopping mall,” a mom of a 9-year-old autistic boy voiced out. “I avoid shopping with him as he easily gets distressed but now, Autism Hour could work in the long run.”
Let’s Give Them A Sanctuary
For kids with autism, their rooms are their sanctuary. When Christmas dinners become a lot to handle, allow them to escape to their comfort zones and make your guests understand why your son or daughter couldn’t join you at the table.
“Friends and family members coming in to visit is a meltdown trigger for my son,” says the father of an 11-year-old with classic autism. “He never sits around the table with us during Christmas dinners. Christmases mean more room time alone for him. As much as we want him to join us, we give him his space.”
If you have someone with ASD in the family, the holidays need not be overwhelming. With management and a lot of space for changes, you can still enjoy celebrating it.
Being a good mother to typical kids can be a feat. Each speaks different love languages, requires various levels of attention and every day, each child needs help facing diverse problems, challenges, and issues. Mommy works can be draining at times. If this is the case for moms of kids with typical developments, how much more for those who are taking care of children with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disabilities?
But Optimism Makes An Enormous Difference!
The years between childhood and adulthood are arguably the most turbulent years of a person’s life. No wonder parents find parenting teenagers difficult. What’s more is if you put in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or intellectual disability (ID) in the mix, you get a different set of challenges not many families face.
“I don’t go out much with my girlfriends anymore,” admits a mom of three, one of who is a teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome. “Because when I do, and we start talking about our kids, I can’t help but think how normal their problems are and question what I ever did to deserve the hardships I have now.”
As it turns out, this mom is not alone.
As devastating and frightening as an Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis can be, parents can learn how to manage and to care for their children effectively. Parents are naturally not prepared to handle the challenges of caring for a child that has been diagnosed with ASD. But, being mentally and emotionally strong can give you a head start. The task at the beginning may really be herculean and can easily become frustrating especially when you hear them describe ASD as an incurable lifelong condition. However, it can also bring about confusion when there are diverse treatment strategies available. It is advisable that you seek help, research and choose the best treatment plans, government support programs and educational programs for your children so that they can acquire the skills necessary to overcome their developmental challenges and move on to lead meaningful lives.
These guides can help reduce the burden of parenting children with ASD
It is always best that as you observe your kid and discover developmental delays, you don’t just wait and believe that he/she is a late bloomer and will probably catch up with his/her pairs. You should not wait for an official diagnosis, but rather seek help and begin treating your kid as soon as possible. The earlier you start the treatment, the better it is for the kid to overcome his/her developmental challenges.
Take the pains to educate and enlighten yourself about Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), so that you can make the best decision for your kid. Become an expert on your child. Learn about the best treatment options, and also what triggers your child’s disruptive behavior. Discover what gives a productive response to such behavior so that you are always able to handle every situation.
Organization and Welfare
Sticking to a particular treatment plan almost religiously and ensuring that the techniques used by your child’s therapist can be easily reproduced at home and anywhere else make it easier for them to continue their learning and developmental process. Consistency is the key on how you respond to your kid’s behavior, how you plan his/her day and how you reward good behavior, be it verbally or otherwise.
Another vital ingredient in successfully parenting kids with ASD is learning how to effectively communicate with them. Most times, kids with ASD may be nonverbal. You have to study their body language, facial expressions, and reactions to their environment in order to bond with them.
You must learn how to communicate with your child by using your body language, the tone of your voice and facial expressions, and maybe even touch.
Develop a Unique Program
Bear in mind that most kids with ASD have unique symptom and needs and different strengths and weaknesses. It is best to ensure that whatever treatment plan/program you eventually decide to follow is specially designed for your kid. With a wide array of treatment plans, it is advisable to consider only those plans that will work with your child’s interest, teach tasks in simple steps, provide a consistent schedule, involve the parents and actively engages your child’s attention.
In engineering a unique treatment plan for your child, it is perhaps very important to ask yourself questions about your child’s strengths and weaknesses, about how he/she learns best, what he/she enjoys the most and what skills are my child lacking. Lastly, try to determine what behaviors are causing the most problems.
Caring for kids with ASD can be very overwhelming and stressful. Most of the time, it also requires a lot of energy. It is perhaps best to try as much as possible to take care of yourself and try not to do everything on your own. Get help from ASD support groups. Seek advice when you need to and take a break once in a while when your kid is with a caregiver temporarily. Since caring for a child with ASD can be emotionally and psychologically strenuous, you can seek therapy.
They say children are one of the greatest sources of happiness to parents. Because of this, it is imperative for parents to protect their children in the best possible way they can. It is a well-known fact that children can be very reckless and rather carefree. This is invariably more complex with autistic children who are unaccustomed with the ways of the world.
For a child with Autism, life is invariably different. Imagine residing in the world where nothing makes sense. Imagine a world devoid of purpose. Imagine the world where the sun is silent, the winds soundless and the air devoid of life. This is exactly how an autistic child feels.
Bullying is a bad trait that has been in existence for a long time. It involves the use of force, coercion to abuse, intimidation, or attempts to forcefully dominate others. Children are young, energetic and reckless by nature. It is not uncommon for some kids who find themselves more superior in strength and size to pick on those smaller and weaker to them. However, there are children who would possibly bully another child who is not only weaker physically, but also mentally. There is a continuing need for institutions looking after the welfare of children such as http://www.oswffa.org/