Early diagnosis is key in helping a child with autism thrive. There are also a number of other steps parents can take to help their child overcome challenges. They may not live a totally normal life, but you can somewhat normalize things for them, so they can thrive in any environment.
- Educate Yourself
While spending too much time reading articles about autism can be frightening, you should research and learn what you can about autism. Read the current definition, tips and tricks for handling certain behaviors, and more.
You can also speak with your doctor, child’s therapist, other moms of autistic children, official autism websites, and others with experience. Ask as many questions as you like. A good doctor will listen patiently and get you the answers you seek.
- Utilize All Available Tools
Not every invention created for the benefit of autistic children is effective, but there are several science-backed tools that can help your child handle difficult situations. These range from sensory rockers to intelligent puzzles.
Weighted blankets are among the most popular science-backed tools for autism. Research shows that weighted blankets are great for helping children with sensory difficulties cope in their environment. It calms them, helps them sleep, and reduces anxiety.
It’s important to note that weighted blankets should only be used for children who are strong enough to easily lift the blanket. Otherwise, it can be a safety hazard.
- Create Schedules
Children with autism spectrum disorder tend to thrive in a heavily scheduled environment. They don’t like disruptions to that schedule, and they have an easier time interacting with others when they stick to their schedules.
Create a regular agenda for meals, playtime, school, bedtime, and other important items. Do your best to minimize disruptions but be prepared for them. Prepare your child in advance if possible.
- Visit a Therapist
Many therapists specialize in helping children with autism spectrum disorder cope in everyday environments. They’ve studied autism disorders and understand some of the best tactics for inducing calm in any environment.
Not all therapists will be equal, so research good therapists in your area. Ask around and read reviews to find a therapist that will work best with your child.
- Know Your Child’s Triggers
Every child with autism spectrum disorder will react differently to any given situation. Some things will put one child in a full tantrum, while another child won’t care. Knowing what can trigger your child’s meltdowns can be the key to preventing them.
Some of the most common triggers include:
- Sleep disruption
- Food sensitivity
- Light sensitivity
- New environments
- Too many people
You can’t prevent every trigger, and it can be good for your child to be exposed to things they’re sensitive to. The trick is preparing them for what’s coming so they can better handle it.
- Make Home a Safe Place
Most autistic children feel safest when at home. They’re comfortable and relaxed in this environment, and you can make it feel safer by listening, working with them, and making them feel loved. It can get tiring at times, but these steps are vital.
It’s also important to make a place in the home where your child can feel totally safe. You might section off a portion of the living room, dining room, or their bedroom. Designate that as a quiet, safe zone where your child can go when they feel overwhelmed.
It’s best if the space is sensory-friendly. Dim lights, remove technology, and keep others out. This will help your child reset and overcome what’s bothering him/her.
- Enjoy the Little Moments
Don’t let the stressful times make you miss out on the moments of joy you can have with your child. Children with autism grow, learn, laugh, and play too, and those experiences can be beautiful.
As you create a structured schedule for your child, make time for play. They can do what they like during this time to express themselves and grow.
- Don’t Let Information Overwhelm You
You’ve probably read a lot on the internet about autism spectrum disorder, but you shouldn’t let that overwhelm you. Don’t get so caught up in the experiences of others that you don’t enjoy your child.
Remember that every child is unique, and that’s great. You know your child best, and it’s important to do what’s best for him/her in any situation, despite what you might read on the internet.