Tips for Autism Parents for Development of their Child
Autism parents have to face great challenges of performing the responsibility of parenting their autistic child throughout their life as it is a lifelong developmental disability. Parenting autistic individual is the most difficult task on the planet, but the parents do not have any alternative without doing it. For parenting such individual you have to be the parent, teacher, trainer, doctor, psychologist, therapist everything your child needs for his/her development. You have to play all the roles at a time, all-in-one. On the other hand, you have to have patience, patience, and patience. You have to leave your all jobs and concentrate on the development of your child. Your family will be a truly autistic family.
Generally, the characteristics of autism prevail within 3 years of age of your child. When a child is diagnosed with autism, then the parents would decide their plan of action without making any delay and without showing disappointment or frustration. You have to accept the reality of the autism life and act accordingly. Please remember that autism is not a curable disease till today but the autistic individuals have the potentials to grow and improve. So you can achieve tremendous improvement in your child if you nurture him in every step of his/her day to day life. Remember, early intervention and training can only make your child self-dependent.
In this article, I would like to discuss the role of the autism parents to bring significant improvement in their autistic children after being diagnosed. The writing is based on my 21 years experience in dealing with autism as you already know that I have an autistic son. Here I have mentioned some of our limitations, mistakes, and failures during nurturing our son which may help you as a lesson in developing your child.
Experience as Autism Parents
We have already mentioned in the different places of this site that we have got long experience with autism as we are the parents of a 21 years old autistic boy. In the process of looking after him, we have gathered lots of experiences and learned many new things about autism spectrum disorders. Certainly, we have done many mistakes during nurturing him and we have learned many lessons from our mistakes. Some of our ignorance, limitations, drawback, mistakes, and failures are discussed below.
- My son Ferdous Mahi was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4 years. So we were late to understand about his autism.
- We had no idea about autism when he was diagnosed first. We did not hear the term ‘autism’ before that time. Even many doctors did not know about autism at that time in our country (in the year 2000).
- He was late in his different developmental milestones from his early life. But we were failed to recognize it due to our ignorance about autism.
- We thought that he would be all right in course of time. We also visited different odd places for his treatment.
- After he was diagnosed as autistic, we could not accommodate him in the normal school as those schools denied to keep him in their school due to his autistic behavior.
- We could not admit him into any good special school as there was a scarcity of good schools and teachers at that time.
- At that time there was a scarcity of trained teacher, therapist, doctor, and caregivers. If we could employ better teacher/trainer, he might have achieved further improvement.
- We did not have any idea about the different characteristics of autism, so could not handle it properly.
- Many a time we have been irritated by his autistic behavior, though those were not under his control.
- Many times we have bullied him, tortured him mentally without understanding actually what he wanted.
- Initially, we have tried to hide him from friends and relatives due to his odd behaviors.
- We had been annoyed with him many a time due to his unacceptable behaviors.
Lesson learned: If any child is found not being developed normally with all milestones as s/he would be, the parents would react immediately (repeat immediately) without any delay, consult the specialist, gather in-depth knowledge about autism, try to understand his/her behavior and take necessary action in a disciplined manner with patience for his development. Remember, early intervention is always better for the development of an autistic child.
Tips for autism parents
In the developing countries, the parents generally try to hide the autism of their children. There is a reason behind it. People generally do not take it in the positive spirit. Some people think it as a curse from the almighty. Some of the people blame the parents for autism in their children. Sometimes the autism parents feel embarrassment in front of others due to some odd behavior of their child.
We must understand that the autism in a child cannot be kept hidden, one day it will be revealed and everybody will come to know about the autism in your child. So the autism parents should accept the reality of autism and practice some of the following actions to bring improvement in their autistic child:
Adaptation of the situation
-After being diagnosed your child with autism, you should sit first with the family members and discuss with them about its gravity and consequences.
-Do not be panic or disappointed. Accept autism as the way of your life. Remember that one in sixty-eight parents in the USA are autism parents.
-Many people will talk many different things and will try to advise you in different directions. Just ignore all those, proceed on your own way as per the direction of the autism specialist.
-Try to understand your child. It will be easier for you to manage him/her if you can understand him/her properly.
-Accept the reality of the fate as nobody is at fault for the autism in your child. Till today nobody knows the actual cause of autism spectrum disorders.
-Make a daily routine for his day to day activities and follow it rigidly.
Gather knowledge on autism
-Study and learn about the characteristics of autism and the way of dealing with autism. If possible, become a master of it.
-There are many good books on autism written by renowned authors. You may collect and read those books.
-There are many autism quotes by the famous authors, you can read those for your better understanding of autism.
-Contact with other autism parents who have experience on handling autism.
-Make a network/group/forum of the autism parents and exchange the views and ideas on autism and discuss the day to day behavior of your children and the corresponding ways of development.
-Talk to the doctors, psychologist, and therapist regularly and update the latest condition of your child.
-With the help of them find out the way of handling autism of your child. Learn how to nurture him/her for the improvement.
-Talk to the seniors in the autism world and gather knowledge from them about the effective ways of handling their children in a certain condition. You can also try it for your children.
-Parents would obtain training on how to handle the autistic child and also monitor the programs of their children in home and school.
-They can undergo Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) training so that they can conduct training of their autistic children as well as monitor the programs conducted by others. This training is very effective for the autistic children.
Schooling of your autism child
-Find out a good special school for your child and get him/her admitted into that school. The school should fulfill the requirements of your child.
-Observe whether he is willing to accept the environment of the school.
-Visit the school regularly to monitor his progress and keep constant contact with the teachers, caregivers, and therapist about his/her progress and difficulties.
-Keep a regular contact with the school teachers, caregivers, therapists to monitor his improvement.
“If they can’t learn the way we teach, we teach the way they learn”
—Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas
-Find out the best effective techniques of teaching your child where he responds well.
-Find out the strength and weaknesses of your child and utilize his strengths for his success.
-Try to manage his self-stimulation and tantrum so that he can be motivated to learn the lessons.
-Ensure his nice sleep at night so that he will remain calm at the daytime and will be motivated to learn.
-Don’t allow your autistic child to take control of the situation of learning. Otherwise, he will not learn anything.
-Don’t force him to learn anything; create the environment and motivate him to learn it.
-Give him/her incentive for learning to encourage him/her but don’t let him/her be dependent on the incentive. Praise him or give incentive for his any success or achievement.
-Do not compare your autistic son with others, as every autistic individual is separate from others by behavior.
-Maintain a behavior diary to monitor the changes in your child.
-Try to get yourself into the child’s world. If you can get into their world and join with them, they will feel safer and share with what is in his mind. It may be mentioned that the autistic children always expect others to enter into their world.
Treatment & Therapies
-Autism individuals generally need different therapies like behavioral therapy, speech-language therapy, play-based therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and nutritional therapy. The parents would find out which therapy/therapies are needed for their children and arrange accordingly.
-Visit some of the good autistic centers where you can get advice what should be done immediately.
-Be disciplined and follow the advice of the doctor/psychologist.
-Have a regular consultation with the doctor and therapist for his/her check-up as s/he might unable to express the difficulties.
-Find out the sensory problems/sensitiveness (light, sound, smell, taste, and touch) of your autistic child and take precautionary measures.
-If possible, try to avoid the issues which trigger the sensory problems of your child.
- Improve Socialization -I can say from my experience that the parents of the newly diagnosed autistic child become introvert and remain aloof from the friends. But it is not the correct approach. They should mix up with the friend along with their autistic child and make a habit to go for outing regularly.-Increase the family time and all members of the family should give quality time to your autistic child.-Don’t feel embarrassed for his any odd behavior, even if it is in front of your guests.-What people say it hardly matters; S/he is your child and you are to look after his/her welfare.-Take him to the playground, swimming pool, gym and involve others to mix up with him. It is not an easy task, but you have to do it for the betterment of your child.
-Take your autism angel to the different family gathering, group parties etc. and try to adjust him/her in that situation.
Ensure their Safety and security
-Most of the autistic individuals are dependent on their parents. So, parents have the responsibility to ensure the safety and security of their autistic individuals.
-Keep contact regularly with the local safety people and inform them about your child to ensure his safety.
-Inform the caretaker of your home about the autism of your child so that he does not allow your child to go out of the home alone.
-Keep the home door under lock and key so that he can not wander away from the home.
-Ensure the safeties inside the home when your autistic child stays at home.
-Consult the teachers and school authority about the safety of your autistic child when s/he stays at school.
-To know details about the safety and security of an autistic child, please read the article ‘Autism Safety Guide’.
Ensure enough sleep
-Make a routine of regular sleep time and be rigid on it. Ensure your child hits the bed at a pre-determined time.
-S/he might have night sleep problems; have patience and try to manage his/her sleep problems.
-Make an environment for the sleep of your child.
-Switch off TV, Radio etc before your child goes to bed.
Teaching daily living skills
“Kids have to be exposed to different things in order to develop. A child’s not going to find out he likes to play a musical instrument if you never exposed him to it….”—Dr. Temple Grandin
-From the very childhood of their child, the autism parents would teach him/her how to develop his/her personal daily living skills like potty training, toilet training, taking food, dressing, brushing teeth, taking bath, shaving, cutting nails etc.
-Teach him how to take food independently. It is observed that they spoil foods if they take it in own hand. Never mind keep on trying.
-Teach him how to use the toilet. It may take a long time to learn it, but be rigid on your lesson. If you do it in his/her favor, s/he will never learn it.
-Teach him/her how to dress-up and tieing the shoe lashes. It may take year after year to learn it but never become hopeless.
-Teach your teenage girls how to manage her personal hygiene (like using pads) during her menstruation.
-Generally, an autistic individual has an extraordinary talent for a particular task. Find out his/her potentiality and grow up in that task. My son Mahi is very good in art. You may find some of his artworks here.
-It may be mentioned that our son Mahi is capable of performing his day to day activities taking food, using the toilet, shaving, and other personal hygiene alone without our assistance. We had to train him on these tasks.
Avail Government’s Assistance Services
–Know about the right and privileges of an autistic child in your country.
-The government of Bangladesh has arranged some monthly assistance for the poor autistic child. You have to register the name of your child in the Social Welfare Office to receive the assistance.
-Ministry of Social Welfare provides special identity cards to the registered autistic children.
-Know the financial assistance your child is entitled to receive from the government to cover his/her health insurance for treatment and therapies.
-In the developed countries like the USA, the autistic children are provided financial assistance in the form of Medicaid program and health insurance. Register the name of your child in the local office to receive the financial assistance.
Common thinking by Autism Parents. At the beginning of the childhood of an autistic child, the autism parents think that his child will be normal when he would be grown up. But when the child becomes young they become worried about the future of their child. They start thinking “who will look after their child in absence of them?” It is a million dollars question by the autism parents.
Children with autism have to be dependent on their parents throughout their life. So the autism parents have to know all the tits bits to handle their autistic children effectively and efficiently. They have to act like a teacher, caregiver, therapist, etc to make their life comfortable.
I would like to urge upon the autism parents to understand their child thoroughly once their child is diagnosed with autism. They must gather in-depth knowledge on autism spectrum disorders through reading books, searching the internet, and undergoing training programs. Teachers, therapists, and caregivers are required for an autistic child, but the contribution of the autism parents are essential for their speedy development in the way of self-dependent.
I have tried my best to provide an informative list of the tips for the autism parents to follow for the betterment of their child. If the parents follow these tips, they can find a significant improvement in their child which may lead to their self-dependency. If they can be made self-dependent, then the autism parents will not have worry about their child’s fate in absence of them.