You probably are overwhelmed by the diagnosis of autism for your child.
It is not easy to learn that someone you love has major health or developmental condition.
Here is the better news –
Learning all you can about autism and where to get help will ease your fear and confusion.
It can also provide the tools you need to find the support that children with autism and you, the caregiver, needs.
How Do You Identify Children With Autism?
Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in early childhood.
Autism is the most common condition in a related constellation of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).
Other autism spectrum disorders include Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder (PDD).
Autism and other autism spectrum disorders can be hard to diagnose because of the symptoms and level of impairment.
They range from mild to severe and are different for every child.
Features of autism include and not limited to:
- Social withdrawal
- Verbal or nonverbal communication issues
- Rigid and repetitive behaviour
In severe instances, an autistic child may never learn to speak or make eye contact.
Most children with autism and other autism spectrum disorders can live relatively normal lives.
Signs and Symptoms in Children With Autism
Autistic signs mostly appear before a child is 3 years old.
Some signs of autism may become out as early as 10 to 12 months, and definitely by 18 months.
Being unique to every child, signs and symptoms in children with autism include:
- Impaired communication skills
- Difficulty making eye contact
- Repetitive behaviours and activities such as arm flapping, headbanging, or twirling an object over and over
- Rigid behaviour and difficulty with change and transitions
- A narrow range of interests and activities
What Causes Autism?
Though experts have not pinned on the cause of autism, most researchers believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors cause autism.
Over the last decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of diagnosed cases of autism around the world.
Experts do not know if this is because the disorder is on the rise, or if doctors are now diagnosing it more effectively.
Treatment for Children With Autism
A child with autism should receive treatment as soon after diagnosis as possible.
Though there is no cure for autism, early intervention using skills training and behaviour modification can give excellent results.
This type of educational and behavioural treatment tackles autism symptoms – impaired social interaction, communication issues, and repetitive behaviours.
It increases the chances of an autistic child being able to go to school and participate in typical activities.
Other treatment options include:
Doctors sometimes prescribe it for children with autism if they have other symptoms like depression, anxiety, seizures, or hyperactivity.
- Alternative therapies.
These might include vitamin treatments and changes in diet.
Always discuss the safety and effectiveness of any alternative treatments with your doctor before trying them.
Help for Parents of Children With Autism
When parenting an autistic child, support is paramount.
Making sure your child get the help they need can also pose a challenge, depending on whether quality support services are available near you.
At the same time, you are likely to have never-ending worries about your child’s prognosis and long-term well being.
For all these reasons, you need to take care of yourself, as well as your child.
Make an effort to reach out and find the support you need.
- Self Education.
Learn as much as you can. Stay up to date on current research findings on autism, and make sure you are looking at reputable sources of information.
- Build a support system.
Seek out local circles and parent network organizations for families of children with autism.
Join online support groups for parents of children with autism.
- Make time for yourself and your relationships.
Schedule regular dates with your partner and friends to meet up. Engage in activities you enjoy.
- Get help.
Feeling persistently overwhelmed or depressed? Ask for help.
Your health care provider can help you find a qualified individual, couples, or family therapist.
You need to take care of your mental and physical health to be able to effectively care for an autistic child.