When caring for a child with autism, there are many factors to consider. Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that those afflicted have a wide range of symptoms with varying degrees of severity. Children with autism have difficulties ranging from speech, motor, or sensory disturbances. Though early intervention has been proven to be effective, ongoing care requires knowledge not only of autism, but also of other disorders on the spectrum, such as Aspergers Syndrome, another form on the autism spectrum.
Autistic children are very sensitive to outside stimulus, such as lights, sounds, and touch. In some cases, even tastes or smells can create an oversensitivity to their environment. This creates confusion, which can often lead to a behavioral incident. When caring for autistic children, the parent or caregiver is best advised to keep lights low and heavy, pitched sounds to a minimum. A calm environment can make for an even calmer child on the spectrum.
A good diet is important to the child with autism. Several studies have shown that autistic children have immune intolerance’s to specific foods and additives. Gluten, found in wheat, and Casein, found in dairy milk have been shown to slow down or reverse a child’s symptoms. Some parents have found that complete elimination of these foods was vital in the improvements shown by their child.
It is also very important to practice patience. Although autistic children do prefer routine, they often find themselves confused and irritated by particular themes in their surroundings. With a limited vocabulary and speech pattern, children often cannot communicate their discomfort to a parent or caregiver. Being patient and soft, while making constant eye contact will keep the stimulus low, lessening a child’s nerves and irritability.
Understanding the fixations that a child with autism undertakes is essential to the parent or caregiver. ‘Stimming’ is a term used to describe how a child with autism will flap their arms, turn wheels on a toy repetitively, or obsessions in video games or certain television programs. Though some ‘stimming’ behaviors are tolerated, excessive ‘stimming’ can be harmful, and a distraction would be useful. These behaviors often occur at a time when stimulation in the environment is too high.
Sticking to a solid routine will enable the child to become fluent in certain social and living situations. Any deviation from a routine should be recorded and explained to the child. When a child with autism has an expectation, and it is not met without warning, can overstimulate the mind, creating additional confusion by which there is no means of a release. Having a routine to deal with these types of troublesome episodes will help ease the child, and the caregiver as well.
Rewarding accomplishments will go along way for an autistic child, or any child. Every complete sentence can be a cause of celebration, and the more that a child hears and understands their accomplishments, the more fluent in that behavior they will become. This is part of the applied behavioral analysis used by educators for more than 30 years. Repetition and reward are crucial first steps in the early intervention process.
There are no clear indications as to what causes autism. Although there are many theories backed up by many facts, it seems that this is an epidemic of unreal proportions. The more that parents and caregivers are educated and updated, the more this disorder can be reversed, and possibly eliminated.