3 Tips for Raising a Child with Autism
If your child has recently been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, it is easy to become overwhelmed. You may have never considered the prospect of raising a child with autism and don’t know where to begin. Fortunately, with the easy access of information on the internet, learning how to work your child’s needs into your family’s life is a breeze.
Of course, autism creates unique challenges for a family, depending on where your child falls on the spectrum, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. Here are a few tips on keeping your child happy and healthy as you learn more about autism.
1. Establish a Routine
Kids with ASD thrive on routine. Unexpected changes in their day can easily result in a meltdown. Of course, some changes are unavoidable such as entering school or starting behavior therapy, but it is important that once a change occurs to work it into a routine.
Routines will not resolve all of the issues you may experience but they will certainly make both your life and your child’s life much easier. Depending on where your child falls on the spectrum, you may want to go as far as serving the same foods each day. With the wide range of quirks kids with ASD have, it is really a matter of trial and error. You need to learn how your child copes best.
2. Seek Out Applicable Therapy
Most children with ASD will benefit from some form of therapy. Depending on the severity of your child’s ASD (where he falls on the autism spectrum), you may look at speech, behavior, or any number of other therapies. You should do your best to work with any educational, communication, or life skill issues your child experiences.
Though these types of therapy can be a little costly, they are life-changing for children who need them. Speech therapy may help your child learn to communicate more effectively, while other forms of therapy and assistance, such as a service dog, can help her cope with day-to-day challenges and improve functioning in common situations at school and at home. Therapy sessions can also offer a welcome break for overworked parents, providing time to tackle chores, run errands, or spend time with other children.
3. Ensure Adequate Sleep
As many as 80% of kids with ASD suffer from long-term sleep difficulties. Though research remains inconclusive, it is suggested that kids with ASD are unintentionally trained to be picky sleepers. To avoid this, try setting up a nightly routine to go along with your daily routine. Nightly routines are beneficial for anyone who struggles with sleep but can be particularly helpful for parents of kids with autism.
These evening routines do not need to be elaborate. They can be as simple as setting a time to put on pajamas, brushing teeth, and enjoying a bedtime story. Any series of actions that signals the brain that it will soon be time to sleep will be helpful.
Though reworking your life and routine to help your child with ASD can seem difficult and (sometimes impossible), anything becomes easy once it is an established routine. Though you may create a daily routine for you child, human beings as a whole prefer routine. When you know exactly what to expect each day, you just might be a bit surprised by how much easier day-to-day life can be. Keep in mind that your child’s diagnosis is not a life upheaval but rather a life change. Any time someone brings a new child into their family, their lives change and your child with autism is no different.