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Parenting a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Know What to Do and What Not

- 9 min read
written by Shield Connect

Have your child recently been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder? You are right on track with this article. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by social withdrawal, rigid and repetitive behavior, and verbal or non-verbal communication problems. Although there is no single cause of autism, it is believed to be caused by abnormalities in the … Continue reading “Parenting a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Know What to Do and What Not”

Have your child recently been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder? You are right on track with this article. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by social withdrawal, rigid and repetitive behavior, and verbal or non-verbal communication problems.

Although there is no single cause of autism, it is believed to be caused by abnormalities in the brain function or structure and fetal exposure to valproic acid (Depakene) or thalidomide (Thalomid). Recent research conducted at the University of Jerusalem led by Ilan Matok, Ph.D., head of the Pharmacoepidemiology Research Lab at the Institute for Drug Research, School of Pharmacy at the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine and doctoral student Reem Masarwa, suggested that prolonged use of acetaminophen may be linked to not only autism spectrum disorder (ASD) but also attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) agrees that autism spectrum disorder can be attributed to genetics and environmental factors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), Autism occurs more in boys than in girls with a 4 to 1 (male-to-female). The CDC estimated in 2014 that there are as many as 1 to 59 children with autism.

If your child has just been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the first thing you’ll worry about is how your child will cope in the coming years. You’ll worry about how things will change for you and your family; lastly, you’ll worry about the challenges you’ll face taking care of your child. These worries are usual and will pass over time. Your child will need lots of support from you, family, and friends.

What to Do and What Not to Do as a Parent
You will take up several roles once your child is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. You need to acquaint yourself with the role of teacher, care coordinator, therapist, and a parent. These won’t be easy to achieve, and you might have to be all at once.

    • You will need to take responsibility and be a leader.
    • You’ll need to learn and become an expert in autism care and related issues.
    • Educate
    • Collaborate with your child
    • Think critically to solve issues that may arise

These principles can be applied to help you advocate for your child effectively.

    1. Start early:
      If you are a parent and your child has ASD, the right thing for you to do is to start the treatment process right away. Seek medical help if you suspect that something is wrong. You don’t have to wait to observe if the child will outgrow the issue or catch up later. Your child is better off if you don’t wait for a diagnosis. Every child with autism spectrum disorder stands a greater chance of successful treatment if they get help early. You can speed up your child’s development and reduce symptoms through early intervention.
    2. Learn all you can think about autism and become an expert on your child
      Read up all you can learn about autism spectrum disorder. The more knowledge you have about the condition, the better your chances of taking care of your child. Learn about the treatment process, ask questions about ASD, and be involved in all treatment decisions. You need to understand the challenges your child undergoes. Find out what your child finds comfortable, uncomfortable, enjoyable, stressful, frightening, and soothing. Once you can fully understand what affects your child, you’ll take care of the child by troubleshooting problems and preventing difficult situations from happening.
    3. Love your child for who they are and don’t give up
      Instead of comparing your child with other children, and how they seem different, channel your energy into accepting your child. Your child would need all the love, care, and attention to live through different phases of autism spectrum disorder and better overcome challenges. Don’t give up on your child if they are not learning enough. Remember always to support your child as they learn differently.
    4. A fun time is mandatory.
      Therapy sessions are essential, but fun time is just as important as the therapy sessions. A child with autism spectrum disorder is still a child, and children love to play. Spend a reasonable amount of time playing with your child to create a bond. The bond created with your child during playtime will help you earn his/her trust. Figure out what makes your child laugh and come out of his/her shell. Play is also an essential part of learning that should be taken seriously by parents.
    5. Develop a unique autism treatment plan
      There are several autism treatment plans available. It may be difficult finding one that will suit your child, especially if you are getting different opinions from people. Always remember that there is no single treatment suitable for everyone. Each child with autism is distinct, with different strengths and weaknesses.

You should tailor your child’s treatment plan based on his/her individual needs.

What a suitable treatment plan will look like:

        • It will be based on your child’s interest.
        • It will offer a predictable schedule.
        • It will involve you
        • It will consist of highly structured activities that will engage your child’s attention.
        • It will simplify tasks to make it easy for your child to learn.

6. Remain consistent and on schedule
Children with varying degrees of the disorder on the spectrum prefer to stick with a  routine. Make sure your habits are consistent to ensure they practice what they learn for the therapy sessions. Consistency will make learning a new skill easier for your child. It will also make it easier for them to apply the skills they knew.

7. Join support groups
There is nothing better than connecting with people who are experiencing the same issues as you. There are several support groups online and face-to-face. Find one that you are comfortable with and learn new ways to help your child. You can also share ideas to help other children.

8. Reward your child’s good behaviors
Praise your child when they have done something the right way or when they learn a new skill. Rewards will go a long way in encouraging children with autism. You can let them play with their favorite toys or give them a sticker as a reward.

9. Take care of yourself as well
You can’t take care of your child if you are not well. Many parents with children on the spectrum are busy taking care of their children to forget about themselves. Give yourself some attention so you can be there for your child.

There is no cure for autism, but some treatments can make your child feel better. The clinical manifestation of ASD will prompt that your child receives some sort of therapy.

Some autism therapies prioritize creating communication and social skills and reducing problematic behaviors. Others may focus on motor skills, food sensitivities, and sensory integration problems.

Some common autism spectrum disorder treatments include physical therapy, speech-language therapy, physical therapy, behavioral therapy, and play-based therapy.

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