Learn more about autism symptoms, and how you can help loved ones navigate them.
Autism spectrum disorder is when a developmental disability causes there to be differences in the brain. Some individuals with autism are known to have a genetic condition that causes it. Scientists also believe there are other conditions that lead to autism. However, these conditions are not yet known.
When an individual has autism, they exhibit certain symptoms. Autism symptoms include differences in behavior, communication, learning, and daily interactions.
The extent to which an individual exhibits these symptoms varies heavily. Some may be able to converse well, whereas others could be nonverbal. Some are able to live rather independently, whereas others need plenty of support.
How autism is diagnosed?
According to the CDC, autism can be detected at 18 months of age or younger. Autism is difficult to diagnose because there are no blood tests or medical tests for it.
Doctors will look at a child’s behavior to come up with an autism diagnosis. The CDC notes that by the age of 2, an autism diagnosis from an experienced professional can be considered reliable. It’s important you go to a reliable and trusted professional. Connect2Heal is a great resource to use if you want to connect with a trusted professional.
Sometimes, autism goes undetected when one is a child. It’s not until the child reaches adolescent or adult age that a diagnosis is made.
When you or a loved one is diagnosed with autism, it can be overwhelming. You may immediately seek resources to help cope with the diagnosis.
There are many different treatment options available. Some of these include behavior therapy, speech-language therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Whichever you choose, it should be tailored to your child’s specific needs.
Aside from these options, there are also other ways you can support a loved one with an autism diagnosis. Whether it’s your child, or someone close to you’s child, here are some ways you can support them:
Consistency is key when your loved one has autism. Oftentimes, autistic children have trouble applying what they learn in one setting, to another setting. It’s important to learn what types of techniques your child’s therapist is using, so you can also use those at home. It may be beneficial to switch up where therapy happens. This way your child learns to adapt to new environments.
It’s also important to stick to a schedule. Autism causes children to crave a routine and consistent schedule. You should be consistently scheduling your child’s meals, appointments, school, and bedtime.
Positive reinforcement and rewarding good behavior also provides structure. Praising an autistic child when they behave appropriately or learn a new skill, can go a long way. What you use as positive reinforcement may vary, but it helps build a structure.
Lastly, creating a safe zone for the child is important. A private area in your home where the child can feel it is their own is important. This is a space for them to relax, unwind, and feel safe.
Learn Nonverbal Cues
Nonverbal cues play a huge part in how you communicate with an autistic child. Since some children with autism are nonverbal, your actions, cues, and tone of voice all play into how they learn. It’s important you learn the nonverbal language your child is speaking.
It’s important you learn your child’s specific nonverbal cues. There may be certain noises they make, actions they take, or gestures they use to make you aware of something. Learning these cues can help you better understand their needs. Oftentimes when an autistic child throws a tantrum, it’s because you’re not understanding their cues.
Also, it’s important to not forget that your child is a child. Scheduling regular playtime that’s not focused on education or therapy—is crucial. This uninterrupted playtime will help strengthen your relationship with your child.
Learning what your child is hypersensitive to, is also critical. Autism can cause hypersensitivity to things such as light, sound, taste, touch, and smell. Some children may also be “under-sensitive” to one of these senses. Learning what your child’s triggers are, will help you make their environment more enjoyable. It will also help you respond properly in situations where these triggers may arise.
Create a Customized Treatment Plan
Autism symptoms can vary a lot. There are many different treatment options available, so you have to choose what’s best for your child.
When picking a treatment plan, remember to ask yourself:
- What strengths does my child have?
- What elicits a negative response in my child?
- What helps my child learn best?
- What does my child enjoy?
Based on the answers to these questions, you can create a treatment plan specific to your child.
No one can go on this journey alone! Don’t be afraid to ask for help when navigating your child’s journey with autism. Whether it be seeking support from close friends/family, or professionals. You should feel empowered to ask for help.
Joining support groups and meeting other families dealing with similar struggles, can be helpful. Knowing you’re not alone can simply be what you need to get through the harder days.
Even hiring a caregiver to assume duties some days can be beneficial. Everyone needs a break—even parents. You can’t do everything and it’s important you prioritize your own self care as well.
At the end of the day, your child wants their best parent to show up. If you neglect taking care of yourself too, you won’t be able to show up as the best version of you.
These are just a few ways you can support someone in your life who may have autism. Be sure to leave a comment below, and tell us how autism has impacted your life. Are there other things you do to support autistic loved ones? Please share your thoughts below.
If you’re looking for an experienced professional to help manage autism, be sure to checkout Connect2Heal.
We’ll connect you with a trusted provider, who is here to help you navigate your journey.