Autism is a complex, lifelong developmental disability that typically appears during early childhood and can impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation. Autism is not a single disorder, but a spectrum of closely related disorders with a shared core of symptoms. No two individuals on the autism spectrum are alike, and all have unique strengths and interests.
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder tend to be less spontaneous than other kids. Unlike a typical curious little kid pointing to things that catch his or her eye, children with ASD often appear disinterested or unaware of what’s going on around them. They also show differences in the way they play.
Children with autism don't communicate, play, or behave like their neurotypical peers, and their behaviours can be confusing, frustrating, or frankly upsetting to parents. At the same time, autistic children have strengths and abilities that can only emerge when a parent is tuned in and willing to engage in a way that works best for their child. There are many things parents can do to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) overcome their challenges. No parent is perfect, and parents of children with special needs are under more pressure than most. These parenting tips can help by making life with an autistic child easier.
Connect with them: Learn to decode your child’s messages, and communicate in ways they can understand. Take it as slowly as necessary. Without judgment, teach them step by step the simple things that come naturally to people without autism. The sooner you understand how your child communicates, the easier it will be to interact and respond to their language. If you deeply join their world and love them unconditionally just as they are, they will feel safer and will blossom more easily.
Focus on the positive: Just like anyone else, children with autism spectrum disorder often respond well to positive reinforcement. That means when you praise them for the behaviours they’re doing well, it will make them (and you) feel good. Be specific, so that they know exactly what you liked about their behaviour. Find ways to reward them, either with extra playtime or a small prize like a sticker.
Encourage social interaction: No matter how exhausted you are, get your child out in the community. Take your child along for everyday activities. If your child’s behaviour is unpredictable, you may feel like it’s easier not to expose them to certain situations. But when you take them on everyday errands like grocery shopping or a post office run, it may help them get them used to the world around them.
Promote meaningful relationships: Depending on the stage of development, schools offer children with ASD and their peers opportunities for building social networks and meaningful relationships. Having your child ride the bus or carpool with a classmate is a great start. Recess, which can be very difficult for children with ASD due to feelings of exclusion and loneliness, is an ideal time to have peers interact and support your child around shared interests. Remember, every relationship starts slowly, but even small interactions can be the beginning of a meaningful friendship.
Celebrate quirks and talents: Strengths typically represent your ASD child’s highest-functioning area. We now have a greater awareness of many famous and accomplished individuals in the arts and entertainment world who have ASD. Recognising your child’s talents and reinforcing them is key. Rather than just attending to areas of deficit, focus on your child’s strengths. Who knows? That annoying quirk may be the one thing that transfers into the world of work, leading to a productive and fulfilling career.
Join a group: Forming connections with other parents who are raising children with ASD is critical for optimising your own sense of well-being. If you haven’t already done so, join a parent group. You will make invaluable connections at both. Try to find parents of kids with your kid’s level of autism as you’re making friends. These people will be a wealth of information for you and a lifeline.
Take care of yourself, not just your kid: As parents, patience exits quickly when we’re stressed and overwhelmed. Keeping calm during meltdowns and practicing mindfulness help one to develop self-compassion during high stress periods, rather than feeling defeated. You need a break from autism once in a while, even if it’s for a few hours. No matter how difficult your child can be, take any offer of babysitting you can and get out. Simple activities such as meeting friends for lunch, going to bed early, starting a new novel can also help. Autism is a marathon, not a sprint. You owe it to yourself and your child to be whole, healthy, and happy. Do whatever it takes to get there.
April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day, when the world takes part in the puzzle pattern of blue, red, yellow and purple pieces that reflect the complexities and uniqueness of the autism spectrum. World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) aims to put a spotlight on the hurdles that people with autism and others living with autism face every day. WAAD activities are planned every year to further increase and develop world knowledge of children and adults who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
World Autism Awareness Day can trace its roots back to November 1st, 2007. This is when the U.N first requested that a day be established as World Autism Day. This resolution was passed and on December 18th of 2007. The first World Autism Awareness Day celebrated in 2008.
All over the world, major events are organized on this day to raise the profile of autism in the public’s eye. These include panel discussions with health organisations, autism-specific organizations, autism experts, and politicians. There are also many different education events that can help parents of autistic children get the help and resources they need. Other events on this day include artistic workshops for individuals with autism, news stories about autism, art exhibitions of artwork that was done by artists who are autistic. Autism-friendly events and educational activities take place all month, aiming to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, foster worldwide support and inspire a kinder, more inclusive world.