People with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) face enormous challenges in their everyday lives- from difficulties in socializing, communication, and restricted interests and behaviors. While some people are born with Autism, others may develop it later in life due to various factors like genetics, environmental influences, or a combination of both. In many cases, Autism flies under the radar, and sufferers do not get the right kind of support and encouragement. However, if people with Autism get adequate support, it can make an enormous difference in their lives.
Statistics show the prevalence of Autism is on the rise, affecting approximately one out of 100 people in the UK, and one out of 68 births in the USA. Despite this, as many as 66% of autistic adults are not getting adequate support. This is why it is essential for family members of people with Autism (including Asperger’s and other co-morbid conditions) to learn about Autism and support their loved ones in every way possible.
Here are 15 ways family members can love and support their child with Autism:
1. Learn about Autism: Early diagnosis is crucial in receiving the right kind of support and treatment. Learning about Autism can enable a family to notice the early symptoms, get a diagnosis, and support the child in their growth and development.
2. Understand your child better: One of the best ways to support a child with Autism is to study them closely and understand what makes them feel comfortable, what triggers their behaviors, and what helps them feel at ease.
3. Discover your child’s talents: Many kids with Autism have special intellectual abilities like powerful memory skills, musical talents, artistic skills, math skills, honesty, and intense focusing skills. Help your child explore their interests and passions, and discover their niche.
4. Help them overcome language difficulties: Autistic children may struggle with understanding idioms and metaphors or interpreting sarcasm and jokes. It is essential to simplify communication by using simple language and avoiding fancy metaphors.
5. Resist labelling your child: Labelling can negatively impact a person and their self-esteem, leading to social and emotional consequences. Full acceptance of what Autism entails can help family members accept their children as they are. Avoid using “normal” children as a yardstick for measuring their progress.
6. Break down instructions: Teachers and parents should break down instructions into individual units instead of giving them all at once. Autistic children can excel in concrete thinking and learning by heart, and visual aids like pictures and drawings can help them retain information better.
7. Use more visuals: Visuals can help bridge the communication gap between the child, parents, and teachers. They are a great aid for learning skills step by step, rehearsing and practicing school tasks, and completing household chores.
8. Use routines and schedules consistently: Autistic children rely on well-established routines and schedules. Keeping interruptions or changes to a bare minimum can help them feel more comfortable, safe, and in control.
9. Reach out for support: Find local organizations that help and support families coping with Autism. Helplines can provide advice and exchange experiences with other people living with Autism.
10. Help with sensory issues: Autistic children can be hypersensitive to sensory perceptions like touch, light, smell, and sounds. Identifying triggers and avoiding them can help them prevent sensory overload.
11. Decide which treatment plan is best: There are over 400 treatments for Autism, and each one has its own requirements and outcomes. Tailor-making treatments according to the child’s interests, structured activities, and steps for rewarding positive behavior can help them make progress.
12. Get up to speed on your child’s rights: Autistic children have certain rights at school and in society, and parents can be their best advocates. It is essential to know what is available and how it can benefit the child. Local support groups can help parents get up to speed on this issue.
13. Build in sensory breaks: Repetitive actions and movements can be a comfort for Autistic people, and having sensory breaks can help them feel more in control and less anxious. Sensory breaks like listening to music, taking a walk in nature, or using calming sensory tools can help children relax.
14. Focus on the positive: It is essential to focus on the positives and celebrate every little success that the child makes. Building their self-esteem can help them feel more confident and willing to take on challenges.
15. Practice self-care: Taking care of an Autistic child can be challenging and tiring. Practicing self-care can help family members feel more rejuvenated and better equipped to support their child. Family members can practice mindfulness, take up a hobby, exercise, or spend time with friends.
In conclusion, people with Autism Spectrum Disorders face enormous challenges, and having the right support system can make a huge difference in their lives. Family members can love and support their child with Autism by learning about Autism, understanding their child better, discovering their talents, helping them overcome language difficulties, building self-esteem, and practicing self-care. With love, patience, and understanding, children with Autism can thrive and lead fulfilling lives.