Many parents are shattered physically and mentally when they come to know that their kid/kids have autism. Shake off all those worries; I have good news for you. There is no abnormality in autistic children except for certain behaviors. But if you accept those actions as a part of their personality, it will not be a problem anymore. Won’t perfectly normal kids annoy their parents with tantrums? Do they consider it to be an abnormality? No, then why should you? By the way who is perfect in this world? Don’t we all have some flaws in our personality? We don’t consider ourselves abnormal because of it, do we? If you approach your child with this attitude, then his/her autism would no longer be an issue. It’s as simple as that. The only difference between normal kids and autistic kids is that the art of communication, playing with peers, blending in with society, etc. comes naturally to the normal kids; while autistic kids need a little training to do the same. If your child is two years old or less, then it’s super easy to train him/her/them to get along with the society.
What I am going to share with you is not the knowledge I had acquired from books or internet, but from my own experience as the mother of an autistic kid. I would also share with you some methods of training, which I had read in a book on education and management of autistic children. Trust me those are worth a try, and you are not going to lose anything by trying it.
I won’t be discussing here improving the eye contact in autistic children because I had already written a detailed article on that. Click here to get to the page.
Do not follow a routine
DO NOT FOLLOW A ROUTINE especially if your child is 0 – 5 years. The reason is this; the brain of children falling under the above age group is still developing and is not yet accustomed to anything. So if you do not follow a routine, they will not stick to the habit of following a routine and the kid/kids would be saved from all future issues related to a change in their habits. If you are following anything of that sort, STOP IT RIGHT AWAY! It is ok if your kid has already started following one, introduce small changes gradually so that he/she may overcome the habit even before they know it. The child would become familiar to the changes eventually, and you should never lose your patience.
For those who have no idea about ‘what is meant by following a routine,’ let me explain. If you follow an order/schedule to do things in your daily life (always), it is called a routine. Given below is an example.
6.00 – wake up
6.15-6.30 – brushing/bowel emptying, etc.
6.30 – breakfast
7.00 – getting ready for school
7.30 – school bus picking up
8.00-8.30 – reach school
10.00 – recess
10.15 – back to class
12.00-12.30 – lunch break
12.30-3.30 – class time
3.30 – getting into the school bus
3.30-4/4.30 – reach home
4.30 – refresh
4.45-5.00 – snack time
5.00-6.00 – play/recreation time
6.00-8.00 – study time
8.00-9.00 – supper
9.00-9.30 – bedtime
If you are following such schedules in your life, start making some changes. You or your husband can occasionally drop the kid at school or pick him/her up back to home. You can let the kids sleep a little longer during the weekends or whenever they don’t have to go to the school and so on. You should often Introduce changes to your daily routine when the child is much younger.
If your kid has already got accustomed to the schedules and if the change disturbs him/her, you can inform him/her in advance about the change you are going to bring. For example, if you/spouse plan to drop them at school, you can say
“mom/dad is gonna drop you to school today. I will show you interesting things on the way etc.”
To make it interesting you can let the child touch n feel the plants, trees, flowers, etc. on the way.
Teach them how to communicate in an appropriate way
Please do not freak out when the kid throws a tantrum. Find out what is bothering them and show them the correct way of communicating it with you. For example, if the child is throwing a fit because he/she is hungry or thirsty, you can teach them to say “ (child’s name) hungry/thirsty ” or (child’s name) want food/water and then offer him/her food, water, etc.
If the kid takes you to something instead of pointing to it or saying it, ask him/her to say “… Want Apple” or ”…. Want to pee” etc. and then give them the desired item or take them to the desired place.
You have to do this every time they repeat such behavior.
First, tell them what to ask for and then offer them what they want. Repeat this for a week.
Teach them the correct way to ask the desired item and encourage them to say it to you. Offer the item only after they say the word. If he/she doesn’t do it, it’s OK you can follow the step 1 for one more week. But you should try step two in between (not too often)
Once your son or daughter start saying the word after you ask them to do, you can follow this step. When the kid comes to you ask them “ what you should say?……. Give ( desired items name)”
Give the object only after he/she utter the word. Get a little strict here. The child should understand that if he/she wants anything, then they have to ask for it.
Kids would surely throw a big tantrum initially because they know that you would give them what they need. If you yield to the tantrums, they will think that it is the way to ask for things and they would never learn the proper way to convey things. Be a little bit strict while following the above steps but don’t be hard on the child if he/she doesn’t respond as expected. Just give them the time.
You can ask the kid to point to the object or show you a picture of the item if he/she is non-oral.
You would have a tough time in the beginning. Don’t lose hope and keep trying patiently. The kid would gradually learn to communicate appropriately.