When Your Child Is on the Spectrum: Dealing with an Autism Disorder

If your child has an autism disorder, you’ve probably been riding an emotional roller coaster. It’s no easy task to know how to respond to the unusual outbursts, lack of speech, or other unpredictable behaviors that can be typical of an autistic child. Autism is more common than you might think. This neurological and learning disorder impacts one in 88 children in the nation.

Take comfort in the fact that many other families have coped successfully, and you can, too. Here are some tips to help you deal with a child who is has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). And keep in mind that figuring it out is a process.

Start by building more awareness

You’ve already taken the first step—becoming aware of your child’s autism. Now it’s up to you to expand that awareness by finding out what you can do to help manage the disorder.

It’s called a “spectrum” disorder because individuals who have it fall within different areas of a mild to severe range. It’s important to realize that every case is different. However, every child who has the disorder shows some deficits in these key areas:

  1. Interacting with others socially (difficulty maintaining eye contact, emotional signals, and give-and-take with others)
  2. Showing repetitive behaviors or interests (rocking, flapping, twiddling)
  3. Having issues with communicating verbally and non-verbally (lack of “talk,” taking turns, remaining engaged)

Make every effort to intervene early

Although there is no cure for autism, there are many early interventions that help to address the needs of each child:

  • Behavioral therapy – This usually involves the whole family to help improve skills in language and cognition.
  • Social skills programs – These are special programs geared to school-age children with autism. Some teachers have used iPad apps to assist autistic kids who are having issues with verbalizing. The apps are user-friendly and offer an opportunity to put words and images together to create sentences.
  • Transition services – Such services help adolescents become independent adults.

There is also a very intense early intervention treatment called Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). It usually includes one-on-one interaction between a child and teacher for as many as 40 hours each week. It helps to cut back on negative behaviors and increase positive ones.

Check the qualities of effective programs

While there isn’t one particular treatment that works for every child with autism, there are certain qualities that are common among the best ones, per the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Starting an intervention effort as soon as your child is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
  • Offering learning opportunities focused on the correct skill level for your child—for at least 25 hours a week
  • Guiding the autistic child with using newly learned skills in various new situations and environments
  • Giving the individual child an opportunity for one-on-one interaction with a therapist, along with small-group activities
  • Involving the family in special training
  • Keeping track of the child’s advancement, and being certain to adapt the program to his or her needs
  • Providing consistency and structure—with boundaries that help to lower the possibility of distraction

Get the support you and your child need

Many families of children with autism and groups devoted to them have helped support one another over the years. For example, the Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation (ASDF) is an active national organization that helps make life better for families and their child living with autism. ASDF offers information, educational opportunities, and at times, some financial assistance to families.

So it is possible to find a silver lining after learning that your child has ASD. There are organizations and families that can help listen to your concerns and offer help.

0
No votes yet
 

0 comments

Sign in to leave a comment!

Today on JustMommies

When Your Teen Doesn’t Want to Go to College

Justin just isn't ready for college. He's not even sure if he ever wants to go to college, and tells his mom "No, not interested." What would you do if he were your child?

Baby Names from the 80s

What were you doing in the 80's? Moon-walking with Michael? Playing Pac-Man on your Atari?

P

From the Message Boards

Birth Control

copper iud?

We are expecting number four, just need to get that first ultrasound to know we have a sticky baby (...

Large Families

Appears the cat may be out of the bag

Think the close family has figured out the good news. Know some do for sure. Husband's aunt and un...

Siggies R Us

FFA 3rd Birthday siggy request

Hi! I need a siggy made please if anyone is willing. My youngest DD turns 3 years old tomorrow so I...

Challenges

Cleanse and Commit

My son is about to turn one year old :smile: I had a little bit of a physical struggle getting back...

Divorce and Separation

Afterschool Care Vs. Parental Care

I am in need of your advice here, here is the backdrop: I have 50/50 custody of my two kids (S5, S3...

» Check out the friendliest message board for moms and moms-to-be!