6 Tips for Caring Autistic Children
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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability that can cause substantial challenges for affected children and their families. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to caring for autistic children, but there are some general tips that can help. Here are 10 suggestions for caring for autistic children.
Be patient – children with autism can take longer to process information and may need more time to respond
Patience is an essential trait to have when it comes to dealing with children with autism. It is important to understand that those on the autism spectrum may need more time to process a given situation and may find things more difficult to understand than their peers. Much of what is expected from any person regarding communication skills doesn’t come naturally for children on the spectrum, and they must work much harder in order to understand conversations, respond properly, and even unlearn bad habits or behaviors that can be seen as autistic-like. By being patient with these children, we can help them lead a better life by being understanding and encouraging them on their journey.
Be consistent – follow routines as much as possible to provide structure and predictability
Consistency is key to achieving success. Establishing routines and following them as much as possible can provide a real sense of structure and predictability in life. Taking the same route to work each morning, dedicating certain days to specific activities, or organizing tasks in the same order can make daily life more organized and efficient. There may be times when the scheduled routine needs to be broken or altered, however overall having a plan of what to do and sticking to it will help us stay on track and progress towards our goals with less stress than trying to figure things out along the way with no direction.
Use visual aids – pictures or videos can help explain what you’re trying to say
When it comes to explaining or teaching a concept, visual aids are often the best tools to use. Pictures or videos not only help clarify an idea or notion, but they can bring life to the material and make it easier for the audience to remember. Whether you’re explaining an idea over a presentation in your workplace, or teaching a lesson in school, anytime you need to communicate something that’s difficult for your audience to understand and retain, adding visuals can go a long way. Visuals such as images, videos, and infographics all enhance the experience of learning by simplifying complex facts into digestible pieces of information that are easy and fun to process.
Avoid overwhelming them – too much stimulation can be overwhelming for autistic children, so try to keep things calm and quiet
It is important to keep in mind that too much stimulation can be overwhelming for autistic children, so it is essential to find a balance. Allowing for some degree of controlled chaos can help autistic children learn how to cope with the unpredictability and stress of real life. It might seem counterintuitive, but providing experiences of focused activities (such as puzzles or code-building games) along with periods of rest both indoors and outdoors helps create an enjoyable routine for them. Balancing quiet moments like listening to stories together or playing non-competitive board games with social activities like going to the park or even visiting a bustling market ensures that they aren’t overwhelmed by too much at once.
Be aware of their sensitivities – many autistic children are sensitive to noise, touch, or certain smells
Autistic children often experience the world differently than their neurotypical peers, and this includes sensitivities to noise, touch, and smell. Even normal everyday sounds can overwhelm autistic children, and many have difficulty distinguishing between softer noises like whispering and louder, more intense sound sources. As for tactile stimulation, some autistic children may be overly sensitive to certain fabrics or sensations of temperature or texture. And lastly, certain smells can trigger an instinctive reaction in an autistic child that you as an adult would not pick up on immediately. In short, it’s important for adults and caregivers to have awareness of these potential triggers when interacting with autistic children so they can be aware and provide a comfortable environment for them.
Don’t force eye contact – this can be uncomfortable for autistic children, so let them initiate it if they want
Eye contact can be a difficult concept for children, especially those on the autism spectrum. They may feel overwhelmed when expected to make eye contact, which often leads to feelings of discomfort and anxiety. Rather than making them force eye contact with adults, it is much more beneficial to create a comfortable environment in which the child has agency over the situation. By allowing them to choose when and if they want to make eye contact, autistic children are able to have much healthier interactions with socially-minded people. Attention should be paid both to verbal and nonverbal cues to ensure that everyone is comfortable in such situations.
Working with an autistic child can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to keep in mind that their needs are different than those of neurotypical individuals. Being patient and consistent when interacting with them is key, as is using visual aids to explain situations. Also avoiding overwhelming them with too many stimuli is vital, as is being aware of any sensitivities they may have. Similarly, don’t force them into uncomfortable situations—such as making eye contact if they don’t feel comfortable—and instead allow them to ascend at their own pace. Autism can often be a difficult condition to accommodate, but armed with the right knowledge we can create environments that enable autistic children to thrive and grow. Taking care to ensure our behavior accommodates their needs not only has short-term benefits for Autistic children but also will help prepare them better for adult life down the line.