Understanding what child autism is and is not will go a long way towards helping you cope with it. Children with autism need your understanding of how they see the world, and you can help them best by realizing that.
A parent’s guide to autism treatment and support
If you’ve recently learned that your child has or might have an autism spectrum disorder, you’re probably wondering and worrying about what comes next. No parent is ever prepared to hear that a child is anything other than happy and healthy, and a diagnosis of autism can be particularly frightening. You may be unsure about how to best help your child, or confused by conflicting treatment advice. Or you may have been told that autism is an incurable, lifelong condition, leaving you concerned that nothing you do will make a difference.
While it is true that autism is not something a person simply “grows out of,” there are many treatments that can help children learn new skills and overcome a wide variety of developmental challenges. From free government services to in-home behavioral therapy and school-based programs, assistance is available to meet your child’s special needs. With the right treatment plan, and a lot of love and support, your child can learn, grow, and thrive.
Don’t wait for a diagnosis
As the parent of a child with autism or related developmental delays, the best thing you can do is to start treatment right away. Seek help as soon as you suspect something’s wrong. Don’t wait to see if your child will catch up later or outgrow the problem. Don’t even wait for an official diagnosis. The earlier children with autism spectrum disorders get help, the greater their chance of treatment success. Early intervention is the most effective way to speed up your child’s development and reduce the symptoms of autism.
When your child has autism: Tips for parents
- Learn about autism. The more you know about autism spectrum disorders, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed decisions for your child. Educate yourself about the treatment options, ask questions, and participate in all treatment decisions.
- Become an expert on your child. Figure out what triggers your kid’s “bad” or disruptive behaviors and what elicits a positive response. What does your autistic child find stressful? Calming? Uncomfortable? Enjoyable? If you understand what affects your child, you’ll be better at troubleshooting problems and preventing situations that cause difficulties.
- Accept your child, quirks and all. Rather than focusing on how your autistic child is different from other children and what he or she is “missing,” practice acceptance. Enjoy your kid’s special quirks, celebrate small successes, and stop comparing your child to others. Feeling unconditionally loved and accepted will help your child more than anything else.
- Don’t give up. It’s impossible to predict the course of an autism spectrum disorder. Don’t jump to conclusions about what life is going to be like for your child. Like everyone else, people with autism have an entire lifetime to grow and develop their abilities.
Helping children with autism tip 1: Provide structure and safety
Learning all you can about autism and getting involved in treatment will go a long way toward helping your child. Additionally, the following tips will make daily home life easier for both you and your autistic child:
- Be consistent. Children with autism have a hard time adapting what they’ve learned in one setting (such as the therapist’s office or school) to others …