April is Autism Awareness month, and it is important to take a moment to recognize the signs and ways we can help our children with Autism thrive.
Awareness and Education are very important things in order to understand someone who has autism. One of the most important things you can do as a parent or caregiver is to learn the early signs of autism and become familiar with the typical developmental milestones that your child should be reaching. But before we even talk about the signs, let’s start by understanding what is Autism.
According to Autism Speaks, autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.
Usually signs of Autism start at age 2 or 3 and is when most people are able to recognize the symptoms, but there are some other associated delays that can happen earlier.
Signs Of Autism In Children
Signs of autism in young children include:
- not responding to their name
- avoiding eye contact
- not smiling when you smile at them
- getting very upset if they do not like a certain taste, smell or sound
- repetitive movements, such as flapping their hands, flicking their fingers or rocking their body
- not talking as much as other children
- repeating the same phrases
Autism can sometimes be different in girls and boys. For example, autistic girls may be quieter, may hide their feelings and may appear to cope better with social situations. This means autism can be harder to spot in girls.
If you have any concerns, you can contact your health provider to get your child screened.
How to Help Your Child With Autism Thrive
There are many things you can do in order to help your child with Autism thrive. There are treatments, services, and parenting tips you can practice to make their life easier.
Important things to remember:
- Learn about autism
- Become an expert on your child
- Accept your child’s quirks
- Do not give up.
Below are some tips on how you to help your child with autism thrive.
- Connect with your child: Connecting with your a child with autism can be challenging, but it does not mean it is not possible. Look for non-verbal ways you can connect with your child, like by the way you look a them, your body language and the tone of your voice. All these can help you communicate with your child without having to talk and can help you create a bond with them.
- Create a treatment plan specific for your child: There are so many treatments out there and sometimes it can be tough to figure out which is best for your child. One thing to keep in mind when creating a plan is that every child is different, and treatments are not a one size fits all.
- A good plan will build on your child’s interest, offer a schedule, engage your child’s attention, provides regular reinforcement of behaviors and involve the parents.
- Provide structure and safety: Educating yourself in autism and getting involve in the treatment are great ways to help your child feel safe. To provide structure you need to build a schedule, reward good behavior, and be consistent.
- Find help and support: taking care of a child with autism challenging and demand a lot of time and energy from the parent. There are times when you can feel overwhelmed and stressed. Find a support system that can help you take some time off when you need it. There are also support groups for other parents who are experiencing the same things as you. Counseling is also important. Counseling for you and/or your partner is essential to help cope with your feelings.