Basics
July 16, 2020

Pranav Harish

Helping A Child With Autism Manage Challenges

If you have learned about your child's diagnosis with the autism spectrum disorder, then you must be unsure about how to help.

Autism is an incurable condition, and a child cannot just "grow out of" it. The challenges of autism spectrum disorder are different in different children. But, there are plenty of ways you can help your child thrive, overcome these challenges, and acquire new skills.

Here are some of the common challenges faced by children with ASD and how you can help them.

1. Your child may be a visual thinker. He thinks in terms of pictures. So, it is easier for him to learn nouns by imagining a picture in his head. However, math and number concepts might be a challenge.

You can teach him math using visual methods. For example, cut an apple into parts to teach fractions. Use a set of blocks of different shapes and colors for numbers one to ten.

2. Children with autism have problems with remembering the sequence of verbal instructions. It is best to write it down on a piece of paper for the child to understand better.

3. Many autistic children like art and drawing. Apart from signs, board games, and cards, they communicate via these means and use the same to learn skills. These talents should be encouraged.

4. Some children can learn to read with phonics only. You can use flashcards for this purpose.

For example, when teaching nouns, speak the word aloud while showing the picture with the printed word. For a verb, hold a card that says - hop, and you would hop while saying hop.

5. If your child avoids eye contact. You can help him respond better and improve eye contact by interacting with him while he is swinging on a swing. However, this should be fun and not forced upon the child. The sensory input from such action also helps to improve speech.

6. Most autistic children find sudden noises and loud sounds of alarms, buzzers, or telephone rings offensive. When children cover their ears, it indicates that certain sounds hurt them.

They learn to tolerate the sound of a bell or buzzer if it is dull down. Play these sounds on a tape recorder to the children. Allowing them to control the pre-recorded sound will help them get desensitized and accustomed to it.

7. Some nonverbal children cannot look and listen at the same time. They are unable to perform both visual and auditory tasks simultaneously. They should be given only one task at a time.

Some are very sensitive to touch. They can be taught letters and numbers by letting them feel plastic letters.

8. Some autistic children do not know that communication requires speech. They need to understand that if the incorrect words result in wrong action or objects, then it means they used the wrong word.

For example, if the child asks for a spoon, then give him a spoon. If the child asks for a cup, when he wants a spoon, then give him the cup.

9. Wearing a shoe may be difficult for children with severe autism. They are unable to understand and perform tasks that involve a series of steps.

In such cases, the only way a child gets to learn is by the hand-over-hand method. Instead of showing them visually, the tasks have to be taught by touch.

For example, you have to put your hand on top of your child's hand. Then, move his hand over his foot to feel the shape of the foot. Then you make him feel the shoe. Guide the child's hand to the shoe and slide the shoe onto the foot. It enables them to "feel" the entire task.

10. You may have to train your child to use the toilet. Some can use the toilet at home but refuse to use it outside. A child may use a small detail that is not at all relevant to recognize an object.

If your child uses the toilet at home that has a black seat, then you can get him to use the toilet at school by covering the white toilet seat with black tape. Gradually remove the tape so that the child can recognize the toilet with a white seat.

Understanding your child, explaining autism to your child, knowing what makes him happy, and what causes him to be aggressive is pivotal.

Be consistent and maintain activity schedules for children with autism. They follow a highly structured routine. Any changes can lead to distress and discomfort.

Rewarding their good behavior besides your unconditional love and affection can help them thrive better.

You have to take care of yourself to be their pillar of strength. Never give up since it is impossible to predict what will happen next in your autistic child's life. Apart from therapy, how you deal with the daily challenges in your child's life will make all the difference.

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