Being a parent of an Autistic child means being a superhero and having to wear that cape all time. You can’t manage to have those off-the-mask moments. No matter how satisfying the role is, it might get a bit stressful and overwhelming at times. With endless literature present on dealing with autistic children, here are a few consolidated quick tips that might come handy when your superpowers seem too dull.
HELPING AN AUTISTIC CHILD DURING A MELTDOWN
It is not easy to describe the feeling when we see our child shouting, crying, or even harming themselves during a meltdown. Our brains are often dumbfounded at such situations – thus, having a game plan ready might really be the life savior!
The Dos and don’ts below are helpful to address Meltdowns:
· DO empathize with your child trying to understand them. Do not take this personally and/or become judgmental. This is not about you. You are not to blame. It is no one’s fault. This is about your child trying to cope with the pressures, stress, and sensory reactions – that they might not be able to communicate.
· DO NOT counter-question your child during the meltdown and refrain from visibly reacting. This can worsen the situation and escalate the behaviors, thus causing stress for both you and your child.
· DO provide support and comfort by holding them if they want to be held or sitting with them if that is all they need. Give them the space that they need and is appropriate.
· DO NOT show panic even if you are on the inside – in front of the already stressed child. Grab a seat, have something to drink that might help you regain your calm.
· DO immediately scan the environment and skillfully hide anything that might be used to harm themselves or others. Having pillows and cushions do help in such situations.
· DO NOT leave the child alone during the meltdown. It may take a few minutes to a longer duration of time for the child to calm down but remember to be there regardless.
· DO NOT resort to punitive measures such as time outs, isolation of any sort, etc. no matter which setting you are in. All you can do at this time is to be present, keep everyone safe and stay calm to show your child that you continue to be their anchor.
· DO teach your child to practice calming strategies daily that will help them behave during a meltdown. Strategies could include roleplaying with your child to show them how to access safe coping strategies, practice general stress management techniques like deep breathing, counting, writing, or drawing, practicing “melting down” videos that can help destress, engaging in physical exercise, etc.
HOW TO DEAL WITH YOUR CHILD WHO GIVES YOU A HARD TIME AT MEALS
Here are a few things that might assist you to help a picky eater:
· First and foremost, check for any medical conditions, allergies that might be stopping your child from eating happily.
· Introduce foods that are commonly eaten at your home and your child must start to develop a taste for it. Do this by adding small portions of such food along with a significant portion of what they already love. Know your child’s preference for texture, color and taste – and introduce foods accordingly.
· Use food logs to determine your child’s eating patterns and to check if they are healthy or not. These will tell you whether they prefer all whites, mushy or crunchy.
· Prepare to tackle the food situation to be followed by a toy game or a movie time they would absolutely love!
· Don’t forget – it may take up to 10 exposures to a food before some interest is shown.
· Review logical steps to introduce the food – look, touch, hold, smell, bring close to mouth, Lick/taste, bite a small piece, keep in mouth (slowly increasing time – even by seconds), chew a small piece, swallow, chew off a bigger piece, swallow, repeat.
· If they are adamant on not eating, try to give them a break and try a while after. Sometimes hunger, and a time to reflect might change their behavior.
NERVOUS ABOUT YOUR CHILD GOING TO SCHOOL?
Here are a few things that you can control and can make a huge difference:
Please provide as much information as possible to your child's teacher. Information such as your child's likes and dislikes, their favorite sensory activities, and their favorite extracurricular activities can help your child's teacher determine the best teaching method for them.
If possible, meet your child's teacher. You may be able to ask questions more easily than email - by meeting your child's teacher in person or by video call. Attending a meeting with your child's teacher will show that you are serious about their education and aspire to help your child with all that it takes.
Share your child's diagnosis with your teacher. As a parent, sharing your child's diagnosis with peers is a personal choice, but sharing their diagnosis with your teacher in full disclosure is part of your child’s learning process and offers the teaching clarity on how to deal with your child.
TRY BRAIN TRAINING.
All steps taken at home are a step closer to their success. Fortunately, to assist you with their training in different aspects, Brainnovation offers a program that is tailored to fit the needs of each individual child, that helps them intellectually, emotionally, and socially. This program also helps and assists their ongoing Autism Therapy in Dubai through training and challenging their brain in ways that suit and aid an autistic mind. Our program intends to build more resilience, focus and confidence in these beautiful and gifted children. Sometimes, even superheroes can use some help!