Caring for Autistic Children

4 years ago

Caring for an autistic child presents many challenges, but also holds many rewards. Children with autism vary widely in their levels of ability and sensitivity to the world, but by tailoring your strategy to the individual, you can foster their growth and success. Here are tips to help you care effectively for autistic children.

Understand Odd Stimming Behaviour

Many autistic children are unusually sensitive to sensory stimuli in their environment. To bring their attention into focus and reduce their feelings of anxiety, many autistic children will engage in stimming, such as tapping themselves or humming. Trying to stop it rarely works, because the cause of the behaviour, overstimulation, remains. You could avoid taking the child anywhere that might be overwhelming, but this would probably mean a drastic reduction in lifestyle. Instead, try to accept the utility of the behaviour to the child, learn what the child can and can`t handle and ignore strangers who don`t understand.

Obsessive and Repetitive Behaviour

Autistic children commonly engage in obsessive, frequently repetitive, behaviours. Because these actions or interests are very resistant to change, it is often best to simply accept them as long as they are legal and safe. You can also use them as key tools for learning and stress management. For example, you can reward the child for a well-behaved trip to the grocery store with a certain amount of time spent doing what the autistic child loves. At school, tying subjects into the child`s interests can be a valuable strategy for encouraging his or her academic success.

Maintain A Routine to Reduce Stress

In a seemingly chaotic world, many autistics find comfort in routine. If you are planning an upcoming departure from the usual routine, you can reduce stress significantly by including the child in the planning of the event. Sudden changes of plans are almost guaranteed to cause misbehaviour, but you may be able to reduce or avoid this by indulging the child`s interests at the same time. For example, allowing the autistic child to take a favourite item, such as a book or toy, in the car or to the store can make a huge difference in terms of ability to handle stress.

Focus on Food Intolerances and Allergies

It is common for autistic children to suffer from digestive problems, such as gluten intolerance and food allergies. It can take time to figure out which foods cause problems and which are fine, but following a diet that improves behaviour, learning and mood in your child is well worth it and will reduce stress for everyone. Eliminating gluten, and often dairy, from the diet can make huge improvements in the mood, awareness and even speech processing of many autistic children, but the removal of these food groups has to be complete for maximum benefit. Other allergies can be identified over time by slowly withdrawing and replacing foods and watching for changes in behaviour. All autistic children benefit from a balanced diet, and many also respond well to vitamin supplements.

As autistic children grow older, they frequently make make surprising improvements in all areas of functioning, particularly with good nutrition, support and socialisation. Like any segment of the population, autistics are individuals with unique strengths and weaknesses. Over time, their natural path will emerge and likely lead them toward their own, possibly unconventional, success.

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