Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can manifest in numerous ways depending on the patient. However, as a general rule, people with ASD are more likely to experience difficulties when it comes to social interactions, have ways of learning or acquiring information that is different from the norm, struggle with paying attention and express a tendency towards repetitive behaviours.
The most common signs are often noticed early, as an infant with ASD might babble very little. Later, the child might have delayed language skills, avoid eye contact, have reduced interest in other people, including peers and caretakers, and might have either hypo- or hypersensitivity to different stimuli, including sounds, textures, smells or the overall appearance of certain objects.
Despite these challenges, adopting several lifestyle changes and habits can drastically improve the quality of life for those dealing with ASD and ensure that they can live comfortable and fulfilling lives.
Keep things simple
It’s essential to keep things simple in the conversations with your child to ensure you’re making yourself understood. Use your kid’s name when you talk to them, and keep the language clear and simple. You might want to speak more slowly in the beginning. You should avoid talking in crowded or noisy spaces, which can lead to sensory overload. Asking too many questions at once can also cause confusion and do more harm than good.
Give your child all the time they need to answer your question, as they might need a little more to understand and process what you said. If you can, avoid using phrases or idioms with multiple meanings, as your child might not be able to grasp your whole meaning.
Anxiety is, unfortunately, a common occurrence among both children and adults. Anxiety disorders are common among children with ASD, and although there are no definitive data, some studies have estimated the prevalence to be anywhere between 11 and 84%. But it can be challenging to distinguish anxiety symptoms from autism since the manifestations can overlap.
You should try to discover the cause of the anxiety. For instance, changes in routine can be gravely disturbing for individuals with ASD, and your child is likely to be very resistant to change. It might also be due to the presence of unexpected external stimuli, creating a feeling of mounting anxiety.
If you notice that your child is dealing with anxiety, it could help to talk to your GP about therapy, which can help. Cognitive behavioural therapy might be beneficial. However, you might want to check beforehand to ensure that the counsellor has previous experience working with ASD patients and will therefore not be dismissive of their particular needs.
Just as in the case of neurotypical children, safety should be regarded as paramount. However, since a child with autism will have far more sensory triggers than one without the condition, you need to adopt an approach that takes the disorder into account. You must become aware of your child’s triggers. Many children with ASD are prone to wandering.
There are many reasons for this, including a desire to avoid displeasing sensory input, curiosity or a lower sense of danger compared to other children. However, this can be a problem as some kids can be gone for too long or be in trouble. Drowning or traffic injuries are among the most common issues. If an accident occurs, you can reach out to a specialised solicitor in order to receive the maximum amount of compensation that can also cover the medical bills.
If you become familiar with your child’s triggers, you’ll know how to avoid them, which automatically means they will be less prone to wandering. It’s also essential to set your expectations before heading out. Offer details on how long you’ll be outside, what you can expect to see, and what kind of behaviour you’d like to see from them during the trip.
You might also want to consider extra precautions to be on the safe side of things, especially if the triggers can become severe. For instance, if your child doesn’t react well to loud sounds, you might want to consider noise-cancelling headphones.
Children with autism struggle with communication, which is precisely why they need a lot of practice to grasp it well. If you discover that you can’t seem to get through to your child, you can talk to a therapist about how you should approach a conversation with them. They can provide you with some helpful advice. For starters, one of the most challenging aspects of the conversation can be to hold your child’s attention, as they might become easily distracted.
You can use their hobbies or interests to engage them or the activity they’re currently interested in. Children with ASD get quite serious about their topics of interest and learn a great deal about them until they’re essentially masters of the subject. Avoid non-verbal communication since individuals with autism might find it too demanding to pick up on the cues or experience them correctly. This includes gestures, body language, or even eye contact.
You should also try to be as specific as possible when asking questions or giving any sort of indication. For instance, if you want to ask them what they did in maths, you must ask exactly that, instead of the typical “How was your day?”.
Children with autism typically develop their own coping mechanisms. Stimming is the most common. It refers to several self-soothing habits your child uses to feel calmer and grounded. The most common forms of stimming include hair twirling, nail-biting, pacing, snapping fingers or cracking knuckles or jumping.
However, it’s essential to ensure that the behaviour doesn’t turn into self-harm. These habits can include hair pulling, head-banging or scratching, biting or pinching the skin. It’s important to not discourage stimming as long as it isn’t injurious to anyone since it helps your child adapt to the environment much better.
If your child has ASD, they must know that they can enjoy your full support and that you’re willing to learn more about the disorder and discover ways to actually help them.