How to Support an Autistic Child at Home
19th January 2015
If your child has just been diagnosed with autism, it can very hard coming to terms with it. Likewise, if you suspect your child may have autism, it can be just as difficult admitting it to yourself, and getting them a diagnosis. However, reacting quickly is extremely important to helping your child (and yourself) as treatment and offering support can begin as soon as possible.
With lots of advice available on how best to help autism sufferers, it can be confusing and difficult to know exactly what to do, so we’ve come up with some useful information that quickly covers what autism is and the classic signs of it, as well as advice on how you can help support your child.
What is autism?
With 1 in 10 people diagnosed with autism across all cultures, religions and nationalities, it is a disorder that is becoming highly recognised and acknowledged.
This lifelong developmental disability is a spectrum condition, meaning it can affect people in many different ways. Some can live a fairly independent lifestyle, whereas others may need constant support and guidance.
Primarily, autism affects the way we communicate with each other and how we make sense of the world around us. Those who have autism will often, but not always, have limited speech and may prefer to use other methods of communication, such as sign language or visual aids. They also struggle to read body language and facial expressions, which can make them feel alienated and lead to heightened levels of anxiety.
One of the most important things to always remember about autism is that it is not something you can simply grow out of in time. However, there are certain treatments and help available that help your child learn new skills and ways to help them tackle the challenges they face now, and those they might face in the future.
Difficulties they face?
Here are a few common symptoms of autism that your child may show signs of in certain situations as they move through their childhood and into adulthood.
Love of routines – They like to know what is going to happen and exactly when it is going to happen. E.g. What order they get ready in the morning and what time they have their breakfast, lunch and dinner, what they are going to have to eat etc. In light of this, they do not deal with change to their environment or surroundings very well and would struggle if they had to experience something like a house move.
Special interests – Tend to lean towards an interest, whether it’s music or computers, and they will be an expert at it!
Over sensitivity to the senses – Very aware of such light, sound, taste, smell etc. For instance, they would find background noise extremely distressing and difficult to block out.
Difficulty in understanding other people – They find it hard or impossible to read other people’s emotions,which can make them appear insensitive.
Struggle to socialise – They find social events very difficult to cope with. For instance, parties are far too noisy for them and the flashing lights make them feel uneasy. They also won’t know who is going to be there, which again, will panic them.
Cannot grasp the concept of jokes or sarcasm – Autistic children will take language literally, so any figures of speech such as ‘break a leg’ or ‘I’ll be one minute’ would be extremely difficult for them to comprehend.
How you can help?
There are various ways you can offer your support and encouragement
As it isn’t a physical disability, people often think the child is just being naughty. That’s why it’s important to help friends and family learn about the condition so they can understand certain acts of behaviour better.
Become a member of The National Autistic Society – They can offer help, guidance and support to families who are working to help improve their child’s life.
There are certain therapies and programs available, such as in-home behavioural therapy and school-based programmes that can be researched into, to see if you think this would suit your child.
It’s important to remain patient at all times. If you get frustrated and question why your child can’t do something, this will only make them feel worse. They won’t understand what you mean, as they never behave a certain way deliberately.
After taking into consideration all the help, support and guidance you receive, the most important thing is to try and remain emotionally strong. This will help you, and your child, more than anything.
Here at Tiny World, we help support your child in the best way possible to help them develop and grow at a pace that is right and comfortable for them. For more information about our day care services, please feel free to contact us today.