A healthy body and a healthy mind are basic necessities for our existence on this planet. However, everything doesn’t fall in place the way we want it to be. As parents, we probably spent a lot of time thinking about our child’s future. It is never easy to learn that someone we love has a serious health or developmental condition. Autism is one such condition which is much talked about and there is better awareness in people about how to deal with it. Learning all we can about the disorder and where to get help will ease our fear and confusion. It can also provide the tools we need to find the support that child with autism.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication. It is a problem that affects a child’s nervous system, growth and development that shows signs in early childhood and lasts throughout a person’s life. However there is a wide degree of variation in the way it affects people. The term “spectrum” in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity. It is a condition that impacts a child’s development in two core areas: the first is social communication and social interaction, and the second is restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It is largely responsible for how the suffering individual interacts, communicates and learns. Children suffering from autism may have restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. They basically have a world of their own. They are not interested in other children and lack social awareness. He or she may not want to make eye contact with other people. Although a child has ASD from birth, it may not come to attention until social demands exceed a child’s limitations. Other autism spectrum disorders include Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder, or PDD. Autism and other autism spectrum disorders can be difficult to diagnose, because the symptoms and degree of impairment ranging from mild to severe and are different for every child. Every child on the autism spectrum has unique abilities, symptoms, and challenges. While there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, intensive, early treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children.
One cannot distinguish an autistic child by his or her looks. Autistic children look no different from anyone else. Some children with autism may develop seizures and in some cases, those seizures may not occur until adolescence. Children with autism can be silent or chatty, bright or intellectually challenged. Their behaviors can range from eccentric to aggressive. They may do well academically or face serious learning disabilities. They may have problems in certain areas, especially the ability to communicate and relate to others. But they may have unusually developed skills in other areas, such as drawing, creating music, solving math problems, or memorizing facts.
When parents first learn that their child will not be able to experience life as other children do, there may be a sense of loss, both of the child’s future and of the parents’ own hopes and expectations. However parents must learn about autism. By learning about the different autism spectrum disorders will help the parents better understand their own child, get a grip on what all the different autism terms mean, and make it easier to communicate with the doctors, teachers, and therapists helping their child. The more they know about autism spectrum disorder, the better equipped they’ll be to make informed decisions for their child. Educating about the treatment options, asking questions, and participating in all treatment decisions become an expert on their child and figure out what triggers their child’s challenging or disruptive behaviors and what bring out a positive response.
Raising a child with autism is a lifelong learning challenge. Parents are often anxious; not only about today, but also about how the child will cope in future. They often ask doctors whether their child will have ASD for the rest of her life. There is no easy answer. For many children, ASD is a lifelong condition that may require ongoing support through adulthood. However, symptoms sometimes improve over time, and in a few cases, with time and intensive treatment, a child may no longer be considered to have ASD. Early intervention will improve the child’s chances for overcoming his or her developmental delays. The child’s pediatrician can be a valuable partner, but parents should not discount the importance of their own observations and experience.
Parenting can be stressful, and taking care of a child with special needs is often more so. Though spending the day with a child on the Autism Spectrum may come with a few additional challenges, it is advisable to continue spending time with them. Giving unconditional love and acceptance will help the child more than anything else.
Parents may be unsure about how to best help the child, or confused by conflicting treatment advice, or one may have been told that ASD is an incurable, lifelong condition, leaving them concerned that nothing they do will make a difference. But it is important to remember that children with autism can live a happy and fulfilled life, but their experience will just be different. It is also important to understand that children with autism have the potential to be absolutely brilliant. They’re also talented, philosophical, kind, and creative and make all sorts of groundbreaking achievements.
Just like anyone else, children with autism spectrum disorder often respond well to positive reinforcement. That means when they are praised for the behaviors of doing well, it will make them feel good. No matter what doctors, teachers, and other specialists call the autism spectrum disorder, it is the child’s unique needs that are truly important. No diagnostic label can tell exactly what challenges the child will have. Finding treatment that addresses the child’s needs, rather than focusing on what to call the problem, is the most helpful thing the parents can do. Parents should try to keep these viewpoints and try different techniques, treatments, and approaches and figure out what is best for the child. Stay positive and try not to get discouraged if they don’t respond well to a particular method.
Early intervention through educating and learning all that can, reading about children with autism, staying up to date on current research findings, and making sure to look at reputable sources of information, will be the most effective way to speed up the child’s development and reduce the symptoms of autism over the lifespan.
There are many things that parents can do to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) overcome their challenges. But support from other families, professionals, and friends can be a big help. Support groups can be a good way to share advice and information and to meet other parents dealing with similar challenges.
The autistic mind is simply different than those not on the Autism Spectrum though this is something much of society fails to see. When a parent tells someone their child is autistic, they are usually met with an unnecessary apology or look of pity. Frustration can arise when other people do not understand how ASD affects a child, and when they judge both the child and the parent unfairly. However there are many places that families of children with ASD can turn to for advice, a helping hand, advocacy, and support. They can share information, get advice, and lean on each other for emotional support. Just sharing experiences can go a long way toward reducing the isolation many parents feel after receiving a child’s diagnosis.