3 Basic Tips for Coping with an Autistic Child One-Day-at-a-Time

By Timothy Boyer on April 4, 2013 – 11:33am for eMaxHealth
Autism Family Health News Analysis

Raising an autistic child is a marathon and not a sprint. And as such, parents of autistic children and other caregivers such as relatives or a child-sitter need to know the basics of how to care for and cope with an autistic child on a day to day basis. Autism experts from the University of Alabama at Birmingham recently offer tips that not only can help a child manage his or her autism, but in turn can also help parents cope with the disorder.

The following is a compilation of fundamental tips recommended by autism experts that can help parents and caregivers with the challenges of caring for a child with autism:

Autism Tip #1: Become an expert on autism and on your child, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is like the spectrum of wavelengths of light―each autistic child communicates on and shines under a different wavelength. According to Kristi Menear, Ph.D., chair of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Human Studies, identifying and knowing the spectrum of your autistic child can help guide a parent in helping their autistic child with particular challenges such as with cognition, sensory integration, motor development, social and communication skills.

“Learn about where your child falls and what that means,” says Menear. “Once you know to what extent your child has the disorder, you can create a plan of action.”

However, there is more to educating yourself on autism than knowing where your child lies within the spectrum and what to expect, you must also learn the particulars of your individual and unique child. To accomplish this you need to be able to identify your child’s triggers:

• What does your autistic child find stressful?

• What does your autistic child find calming?

• What does your autistic child find uncomfortable?

• What does your autistic child find enjoyable?

To discover these triggers you need to be aware of nonverbal cues and pay attention to your child’s sensory sensitivities:

• Look for nonverbal cues that your autistic child may be using to communicate.

• Pay attention to the kinds of sounds they make, their facial expressions, and the gestures they use when they’re tired, hungry, or want something.

• Figure out what sights, sounds, smells, movements, and tactile sensations trigger your kid’s “bad” or disruptive behaviors and what elicits a positive response.

If you understand what specific triggers affect your child, you’ll have a better grasp of how to deal with a problem or situation.

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