As a parent, it’s normal to worry about your child’s future, especially if they have a challenging condition such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Being told that autism is incurable can leave you feeling concerned and unsure about how you can care for them.
Nonetheless, you can do many things to support your child and help them thrive. Studies show that therapy and your support will go a long way in managing your child’s symptoms, allowing them to live a full life.
Through it all, we’d like you to know that you’re not alone in this. So in this blog, we’ve provided autism spectrum disorder help for parents, including steps to be taken for their kids to unlock their true potential.
1. Learn about your child’s condition
When raising a child on the spectrum, it is important to thoroughly understand their condition. Autism presents itself distinctively from one child to another, so knowing exactly how it impacts your child will help you recognise why they react to certain circumstances.
The more you learn about autism, the more you can identify your child’s behavioural patterns and needs. In autism treatment, knowledge from both research and your consultation with a health professional will guide you in making the right decisions for your child’s health.
For starters, do research on the internet, which has a multitude of information about autism in children. Apart from this, you can also speak to your child’s doctor. A health professional is in the best position to help you understand the condition better. Plus, your child’s doctor can refer you for an autism assessment from a specialist psychiatrist or psychologist.
2. Accept your child’s unique self
The first thing you need to do is accept your child exactly as they are even if things get tough at times. When you embrace their uniqueness and believe in them unconditionally, it empowers your child to believe in their potential.
Rather than focusing on how your child is different from other kids, or what they are missing, be open to their quirks, stop comparing your child to others, and celebrate small successes.
3. Create a safe home space
Your home should be a safe environment for your child. You can also designate a space for your child to calm down, reinforcing the idea of feeling secure.
In this space, you can put familiar objects that your child finds comforting, like their favourite blanket or plush toy. They can use the space whenever they feel anxious or upset.
4. Be consistent
Children in the spectrum may struggle with spontaneity. Often, they are rigid in their behaviours and may find it hard to adjust to changes. Your responsibility is to make sure you have a routine and schedule since these are comforting for your child. Remember, sudden changes can trigger their anxiety.
Draw out a schedule for your child with well-defined starts and ends. Steer away from distractions and make sure you do things in ways that your child is comfortable with.
While changes may make your child upset, prepare for these by communicating with your child. If you have planned changes or a sudden shift from your schedule, make sure they understand. Remind them of upcoming events or unplanned change so they will not be kept off guard.
5. Make communication easier
One way to make communication easier is by learning to connect with your child in nonverbal ways.
Children with autism have varied abilities when it comes to verbal and non-verbal communication. Many times, even those with verbal skills may prefer to communicate non-verbally.
Communication goes beyond simply talking, as it includes other methods — voice tone, nonverbal cues, body language, and how you look at your child. Try to learn your child’s movement patterns to determine what they need and want.
Furthermore, when communicating with your child, use short and clear sentences, give simple instructions, talk about what they like, and choose the right time to talk to them, before you move on to using longer sentences. All these will help you understand your child better and, in turn, they will also learn to communicate better.
6. Use positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is an effective management method in dealing with challenging behaviours of children with autism. It can also help them learn new skills and actions. You can use this concept to help your child thrive in day-to-day circumstances.
It goes beyond giving rewards after your child does something you want them to do. It is the concept of how a person will show a particular behaviour more often as time goes by.
Applied behavioural analysis (ABA) therapy is an approach that focuses on using positive reinforcement. The goal of treatment is to improve social, behavioural, communication, and learning skills.
There are various types of ABA therapy, but all are based on the idea that reinforcing certain behaviours will lead the kids to repeat them.
7. Observe your child’s sensory sensitivities
Many children with autism experience sensitivity to sound, light, touch, taste, and smell. This means they can be oversensitive to these triggers, making them anxious. In some cases, a sensory overload could lead to a meltdown.
Figure out what sensory sensitivity your child has to prevent an overload. You can provide sensory tools to reduce stress and make them feel at ease.
8. Make time for fun
A child with ASD is still a child. They also need time for fun and enjoyment, especially with their parents. Set aside time for fun and games together as this can also help your child smile, laugh, and even communicate with you. After all, play is an essential part of learning for all children.
9. Don’t give up
When things get tough, just soldier on. Although you may feel frustrated and helpless sometimes, stay positive. Believe in yourself and your child, and teach them to have faith in their potential. You can also empower yourself by tackling one thing at a time. One day, when they grow up living full lives, you’ll look back with a sense of accomplishment. Celebrating small wins will help you get through a stressful day at home.
10. Find help
While you might feel overwhelmed at times, there’s always help. You can get support from your family, friends, support groups, and health professionals. Having the right support can make a big difference to you and your child’s life.
Look for licensed therapists to assist in the treatment of your child. They can make a tailored treatment plan that can help your child cope with stress, and learn new skills.
At AutismSTEP, we know the challenges you may be experiencing in raising your child with autism. We use the beneficial effects of ABA therapy to help them progressively improve — learning to thrive in their day-to-day life.
We believe in the constructive effects of this treatment and we have certified therapists on board to help your child through the process using a customised approach.
AutismSTEP is a team of certified and experienced BCBAs and RBTs. To ensure that your kids are in good hands during the therapy sessions, all our therapists are required to be RBT-certified.
To help you make an informed decision on the type of therapy your child needs, please schedule a consultation with us today, or call +65 6456 9950.