How to Get Diagnosed
How ASD Gets Diagnosed? There are no medical tests such as blood work and brain scan to determine ASD. A medical diagnosis can be made…
Children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have issues with daily living skills to different extents. Some need help with daily tasks like brushing their teeth and dressing up, while others can go through most of their day with minimal assistance. The important thing is to understand the child’s needs and try to make provisions to meet those needs.
To be of maximum assistance to your child, there are a couple of things you can do:
The rest of the article gives you specific tips on how you can help your child in different areas of life. We start with communication.
Autistic children can find it hard to express themselves in words. This often leads to lots of strong feelings, including anger, frustration, and resentment. Sarcasm, irony, tone of voice, and body language do not get through to them, causing lots of frustration.
Use your understanding of your child’s strengths and weaknesses to create support systems so that they can communicate their thoughts and desires more easily.
Everybody experiences anxiety, especially in unfamiliar situations. This is also true in children with ASD. Because they have trouble communicating their emotions, they can feel anxiety and other emotions deeply. In fact, this feeling can be so deep that they experience high levels of stress and panic. The first step to helping children with ASD is to understand the causes of their anxiety. (These causes are called triggers.)
Common anxiety triggers include:
Your child’s specific anxiety triggers may not be on the list above. Take your time to figure out and list your child’s anxiety triggers. Now that you know the possible triggers for your child, look for ways to help them handle these situations.
To help them manage these situations, you need to help them recognize what anxiety feels like in their body. This varies from child to child and from time to time. They may include sweaty palms, increased heartbeat rates, knots in the stomach, and uncontrollable physical motions. You may need to work with your child to identify these signs in their body.
Once you’ve identified the signs, practise dealing with these signs in a safe place. Teach them how to deal with the signs they experience. Help them practise dealing with the signs often until you are confident they can handle all of their anxiety triggers. Keep practising these skills intermittently until you feel there is no need for them.
Some ways of dealing with anxiety are listed below. Pick and choose what works for you. They include:
If need be, you can consult a psychologist about developing anxiety management strategies.
Suppose the strategies suggested above do not work, and there are frequent cases of anxiety that interfere with the child’s daily living. In that case, you may be prescribed medication to reduce anxiety symptoms.
Autistic children usually display their emotions in intense ways, including:
Stimming refers to things people do to themselves to handle anxiety. These include biting nails, rocking back and forth, curling your hair around your fingers, drumming your fingers on a desk, repeating words, flapping hands, and rearranging toys all day. Stimming behaviours can sometimes be violent or self-injurious, e.g., head banging or swallowing sharp objects.
Everyone stims. However, people with autism may not understand social cues that should inform them when their stimming behaviour affects people around them. Their stimming behaviour can become a daily habit lasting for hours each day.
Autistic people sometimes express their desires or emotions in intense outbursts. These outbursts are called meltdowns. They are a response to deeply resonant or touching situations. They are characterized by a temporary total loss of control of behaviour, resulting in wild verbal and physical demonstrations.
Meltdowns are an autistic person’s way of expressing frustration and expressing the depth of their emotions concerning a matter. It is the result of an overwhelming intensity of emotion.
Stimming is a coping mechanism that can occur for a variety of reasons. It could be a means to get attention, adapt to an unfamiliar environment, cope with sensory overload, calm oneself or express frustration. It is also essential to observe how previous stimming episodes were resolved. This may help you determine, for example, if the stimming behaviour is a means to get attention or a means to express frustration at not being able to communicate effectively with another party.
Note that stimming behaviour, such as head banging, could be caused by a medical issue like seizures. If you suspect a medical cause for stimming, kindly consult your doctor.
If the stimming behaviour is becoming a problem for your child or other people at home, in school, or on the playground, you may need to work on managing the behaviour. Examples of problems that can be caused by stimming include isolation, destructive tendencies, academic issues, etc.
If stimming results in self-harm or destructive behaviour, kindly consult a doctor to seek ways to control the behaviour. Otherwise, work on managing the behaviour in your child.
To manage the behaviour, it is vital to understand the triggers. What happened before the stimming behaviour began? If there have been multiple episodes, what is common to them? Where do they differ from one another?
If you suspect something, such as loud noise, is a trigger for the stimming behaviour, try to eliminate or reduce it and see how that affects that particular stimming behaviour. This can help you narrow down the list of possible triggers.
Avoid changes in routine for daily tasks, so you can more easily identify stimming triggers. Do not try to punish the behaviour. That may make them more despondent. Instead, resolve the underlying issue and wean them off that behaviour. Maintain routines and other actions to minimize anxiety.
If you still can’t find the trigger for a behaviour, consult an autism specialist to help with identifying the trigger.
Once identified, try to minimize or eliminate the trigger. Ask your child if your attempts are working so you can know to keep searching until you find the solutions that work for your child.
If stimming continues, try to manage the behaviour using the following tips.
If your child is having a meltdown,
Before the meltdown, your child would likely display signs of stress, anxiety, or unrest. When you spot these signs, try to divert their energy from the source of the stress to other things such as personal interests, fiddle toys, listening to music using noise-canceling headphones, etc.
Try to identify triggers for meltdowns using the process outlined above for finding the stimming triggers above. Once you’ve identified the signal, try to minimize it or avoid it if possible.
People with ASD tend to have insomnia. They can have problems getting to sleep and staying asleep. These problems come in various forms, including:
The causes of this problem are majorly classified as either daytime habits or nighttime habits. Other causes include anxiety, bedwetting, illnesses, nightmares, and social communication difficulties.
The most crucial daytime habit that causes poor sleep is lack of physical activity. This can be easily remedied by getting your child to do more daytime physical play like running and jumping. The second important habit has to do with their diet. It is recommended that they eat not too early and not too late so that they can go to sleep without feeling too full or hungry.
Nighttime habits for ensuring your child gets consistent sleep include:
For persistent problems about bedwetting, nightmares, and illnesses, kindly see your GP.
For anxiety and social communication issues, your work on dealing with anxiety will come in handy.
Sleep, fitness, and nutrition have an outsized impact on the quality of life you and your child would live over the next few years and, perhaps, decades.
Ensure your child eats healthy, sleeps well, exercises, and has regular checkups with his doctors – GP, dentists, opticians, and other specialists.
Healthy eating and good sleep have been covered in previous sections.
Keep your child strong and healthy with regular exercise. Make sure your exercise sessions are not prolonged but short and sweet, ending on a cheerful note.
One of the defining attributes of autism is the inability to connect emotionally and socially to people. However, it does not mean autistic children cannot make friends. It just means parents have to be deliberate about it.
ASD can impose a severe, sudden, continuous toll on a family. Its effect can be significant physically, emotionally, maritally, financially, and in every other way. Everyone is affected. Everything is affected.
There are several factors to consider when considering school for autistic kids. The quality of instruction, the number of students, size of classes, the design of their school, transport, etc. The decision of which type
There are two kinds of school your child can go to:
A mainstream school is not tailored for children with autism. It is a school for all kinds of children. A child with autism would need extra support outside of classroom infrastructures to keep up with their classmates. Finally, the placement would be too expensive, as there would be no rebates to subsidize the education expenses. However, it provides the child with a normal environment to grow in the company of other peers.
A special school is dedicated to educating children who have special educational needs. An autistic child would be given expert, personalized attention here. This would pave the way to faster learning and understanding. It is also important as the money could be diverted to educate siblings.
The exact school chosen will depend on the child’s needs, the school size, type of schools locally available, financial strength, etc.
Autistic children can live fulfilled lives if they are well taken care of, with structures and processes and the help needed to function like every other person.