The 10 Best Ways You Can Help Your Autistic Child

Help Your Autistic Child

Having a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) isn’t easy. Depending on how this disorder manifests in your child, they may exhibit a wide range of symptoms, and some of those symptoms may be severe enough to negatively impact their behavior and quality of life.

Between managing appointments, struggling with behavioral issues, and coming to terms with a neurodivergent family member, it can all be overwhelming. But as a parent, you can’t help but want the best for your child.

What are the best ways that you can help your child with ASD?

How Do You Help an Autistic Child?

These are some of the best strategies for helping your autistic child:

  1.       Get a diagnosis from a trained professional (but start treatment early). On some level, ASD is just a label. What’s really important is the set of behavioral and cognitive symptoms that your child displays – as well as your approach to helping them. Even so, it’s valuable to get a diagnosis from a trained professional. Don’t wait for this diagnosis to start treatment, but do work to get a diagnosis so you can better understand your child’s difficulties.
  2.       Use ABA therapy. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy is one of the best treatment methods available for children with ASD. This technique uses a sophisticated system of behavioral analysis to better understand the root causes of problematic behaviors, so those behaviors can be addressed, minimized, and hopefully, eliminated. It also uses a reward system to encourage positive behaviors, guiding your child to better cognitive, social, and behavioral performance.
  3.       Recognize your child as an individual. Remember that autism is a spectrum and that your child is an individual. They aren’t the same as other autistic children, and their suite of symptoms is going to be totally unique. You’re going to be much more effective as a parent if you understand this and tailor your approach to fit their individual needs. And, of course, you need to love your child for who they are – not who you want them to be.
  4.       Socialize with others. Socialization is good for children with ASD, even if it’s difficult for you to manage. Your child may throw tantrums or show signs of high anxiety, but socializing with others is the only way they’re going to learn how to socialize appropriately. Take every opportunity you have to safely introduce your child to new people and new situations.
  5.       Join groups and organizations. There are many clubs, groups, and organizations dedicated to helping people raising children with ASD. Upon joining one of these groups, you’ll be met with an instant wave of support. Contribute what you can, learn from the experiences of others, and make new connections here.
  6.       Tackle one issue at a time. You’re going to burn yourself out if you try to tackle all of your child’s problematic behaviors at once. Instead, focus on one issue at a time. Compartmentalizing symptoms can provide temporary mental relief and simultaneously lead to better long-term results.
  7.       Educate the people around you. You don’t have to do this alone. In your journey, you’re probably going to interact with countless family members, friends, teachers, neighbors, and strangers who don’t understand why your child is acting this way. Do your best to politely educate them and guide them to better understanding, so they can better support you, your child, and other people with ASD.
  8.       Be as consistent as possible. Consistency is key to seeing meaningful results in ASD treatments, so be as consistent as possible in your rewards, disciplinary actions, and reactions. This is going to be especially difficult during periods of heightened anxiety or tension.
  9.       Get help. Don’t be afraid to get help. Therapists, psychologists, doctors, and amateurs like friends and colleagues can all help you better manage your own mental health and come to terms with this reality.
  10.   Take care of yourself. Before you can take good care of your child, you have to take good care of yourself. This is sometimes called the “oxygen mask rule,” as emergency instructions on airplanes encourage adult passengers to secure their own oxygen mask before affixing an oxygen mask to their child. Recognize the condition of your own mental health so you can treat it proactively – and take breaks whenever you have the opportunity.

How to Tell If Your Child Is Autistic

How can you tell if your child has ASD?

Because ASD manifests so differently across different types of people, this can be a hard disorder to diagnose. Most often, ASD manifests with the following:

  •       Developmental delays. One of the most common symptoms of ASD in children is developmental delays. Your child may not hit movement, cognitive, or social milestones in line with their peers – and they may have trouble with speech or communication.
  •       Social and emotional issues. Autistic children also typically suffer from social and emotional issues, as they struggle to recognize the thoughts and feelings of others.
  •       Repetitive and obsessive behaviors. Repetitive and obsessive behaviors are also frequent, such as organizing their toys in a specific way or repeating specific movement patterns.

Having a child with ASD can be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. If you’re willing to make an effort to help and support your child, their behavior could dramatically improve over time.