A comprehensive guide on handling an autistic kid

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Autism appears to be the leading mentally challenged disorder presently. But, exactly what is autism and how do you handle an autistic kid?

Autism appears to be the leading mentally challenged disorder presently. But, exactly what is autism and how do you handle an autistic kid?

Autism, usually rearing its head in children, is described as a developmental disorder that bears impaired communication, emotional detachment and excessive rigidity.

There are two types of autism – regressive and non-regressive. Autism, developing in children from about 18-months-of-age, is known as regressive autism when children begin losing language and other developments. Non-regressive autism occurs from birth.

How do I know I have an autistic kid?

When children are born with Down’s syndrome, it is harder to trace autism in them then it is to trace in a non-Down’s syndrome child. Social and emotional developments are delayed in an autistic child. If tracing autism in a Down syndrome child is close to impossible for you, look out for the following.

Autistic loneliness – Generally, children with Down’s syndrome are loveable and enjoy being hugged or love to hug. However a child with autism usually prefers to be by himself. Autistic children consider people as objects rather than people.

Changeless routines – Even a slight change can cause a child with autism to go berserk. Sameness breeds familiarity for them.

Lack of eye contact – Autistic children do not make eye contact, but instead they often look ‘right through’ people.

Repetitive movement – It has been observed that autistic children can sit for long hours while waving an object and staring at it.

How do I, as a parent, handle my autistic kid? 

Autistic children usually display intense emotions. Mrs Pillay is a mother whose 5-year-old son, Somesh, has been diagnosed with mild autism.

“Even though it’s just mild autism, he is extremely sensitive and cries over nothing at times. He is in normal day care but when these episodes take place, he has to be separated until he calms down. Sometimes he stares into oblivion for hours,” explains Mrs Pillay about Somesh.

Somesh’s condition for mild autism is nothing out of the usual. Working with an occupational therapist is probably the best for both Mrs Pillay and her son.

Autistic children suffer from seizures, ranging from mild to severe, at times. When a child is seizing, never move him unless he is danger of falling down the stairs, etc. Try to gently turn the child on his side and loosen the clothing around his neck.

If a holiday celebration is coming up, plan it wisely. Gifts and toys do not make a difference to a child with autism. Mrs Webber remembers her daughter, Christina now 16, back in the old days when everyone would be busily tearing open their presents on Christmas morning.

Christina, then 5, would sit and stare, focused on an ornament hanging from the tree. “She never touched a present and even when we unwrapped her gifts for her, she would merely ignore us, the gifts and just about everything else in the room,” remembers Mrs Webber with a tear.

Rather than toys, shower the child with love and attention, which according to most therapists are what many autistic children are lacking in today.

Do my Autistic kid need treatment?

If left untreated, autistic children’s social skills and speech skills will not develop effectively. The number of children who recover from autism without any help is extremely low.

What treatments are there available an autistic kid?

There is no cure for autism but there are many treatments available for autism. However the treatment that suits the child may vary from individual to the next. TheAsianParent has listed those that are not only popular but have seen good effects as well.

Behaviour Modification. The child should be give highly structured and skill-oriented activities to do. These can be on the basis of the kid's needs and interests. And, you can carry them out with a therapist and extensive caregiver.

Communication Therapy. Sometimes this type of therapy helps autistic patients who are unable to communicate verbally. It can initiate language development.

Dietary Modifications. At times, you can try altering the diet and digestion. It may improve any food tolerances and eliminate allergies. Resultantly, they can eliminate behavioural problems (caused by these tolerances or allergies) may reduce.

An autistic child can be as different or similar as a normal child, depending on how you look at him and treat him. At the end of the day, he is your child and will always be. No amount of denial or leaving him for long hours in special needs schools will change that. It’s time for every parent to make a difference and embrace the child for who he is rather than for what he is.

Also read: Teaching Autistic Kids to Talk

Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore