Autism is a neurological developmental condition characterized by a person’s challenges with social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and repetitive behavior. Also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it affects each person differently— they have their own set of strengths and challenges that may stay with them forever. Some people on the spectrum can think fast while others pick up information slowly. Some may not be able to speak or learn, have strange behaviours, avoid other people, and more. Parents, if you have a child or children with autism, cheer up. They can thrive and be better as they grow old as long as you stay true to these steps on how to be the best mom or dad to a child with autism.
- Be patient. A huge chunk of people, including children, with autism have impaired processing speed which can cause them to fall behind at school. This means that they follow their own pace at which they process information. Giving them a couple more seconds to respond is much helpful rather than simply assuming they did not understand a word you said. Another approach to this challenge is by letting them watch videos with full captions for better comprehension and recording and rewatching or re-listening to school lectures to help them cope.
- Listen to them. Did you know that some people with autism have “super hearing?” They can hear other people whispering from a few rooms away. But since their sense of hearing is heightened, it comes with a cost. The mere flicker of a light bulb can be painfully distracting for them. As a result, these kids pick up information poorly, or worse, they tend to meltdown in classrooms as they become overwhelmed with various sensory inputs they try to avoid.
- Blame the weather, not them. If you notice that a change in your child’s behaviour coincides with an approaching bad weather, it is not your child’s fault. Barometric pressure or atmospheric pressure is the pressure caused by the weight of the air. When the barometric pressure drops, it means that a rainstorm or snow is coming. Children with autism are sensitive to these atmospheric changes that oftentimes they get migraines. So if they get distressed or throw some light tantrums, they are not scared of the weather, but they are rather in pain.
- Stimming is okay. Stim is a term that refers to the self-stimulating behaviors that involve repetitive sounds and movements— juggling your foot, whistling, tapping your pencil, drumming your fingers, etc. We all stim, in some way or another to ease boredom, frustration, and anxiety. However, stimming in children with autism is more obvious and can confuse or frighten others. In fact, it is one of the symptoms of autism.
Stimming is extremely beneficial to autistic kids. They do this to entertain themselves, cope with overwhelming situations, and manage their emotions. Sometimes, stimming in autistic kids is a form of communication that can be interpreted by parents who truly understand them.
Adam and Eve Specialized Medical Centre supports the cause to spread awareness about autism during this World Autism Day. Autistic children are humans too and they deserve the best in life. Let us change our perspectives and give them unconditional love and understanding.