What is Autism?
Also commonly referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), this is a disorder that affects the ability to communicate and interact. According to research, autism affects about 1 in 54 children in the United States. Autism can sometimes get diagnosed at 18 months or younger. ASD can occur to anyone no matter their race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic group. It has, however, been found out that it can occur about four times more among boys than among girls.
What are the different types of Autism?
The different types are:
- Autistic disorder- Children with this type may experience issues with communication, delayed speech, and maintaining eye contact. They may also experience difficulties in relating to people.
- Asperger Syndrome- Children facing this may experience difficulties in relating to others, act inappropriately, and may experience trouble expressing themselves.
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Children experiencing this exhibit behaviors such as difficulties in social behavior and struggles throughout life.
Symptoms of Autism.
Some of the symptoms associated with autism are:
- Delayed speech
- Issues with maintaining eye contact and proper body language
- Issues with building and maintaining relationships
- Stammering and pronunciation issues
- Decrease insensitivity
- Fixated interests
- Rigid adherence to behaviors and patterns
Causes of autism in children.
There is no specific cause although researchers have come up with several findings regarding the same. Some of the suspected risk factors include:
- Genetic mutations
- Having family members with autism
- Being born to parents who are elderly
- Metabolic problems
- Exposure to a harsh environment
- Viral infections
- Fetal exposure to the medication before birth
The ways to support children with autism:
The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically affected the lives of children, particularly those facing autism throughout the world. To support autistic children, customize autism treatment during this time, there are several strategies you can follow that are of value to both their parents and children.
These ways are:
- Through communication.
The normal lives of autistic children have been affected. Since they stay at home most of the time, teaching them how to communicate and express themselves more is one of the ways to help them throughout the pandemic. Using social stories is a great way of enhancing communication between children with autism and adults. These stories are vital in helping the children comprehend the happenings in a new situation. Social stories are a series of pictures that tend to explain what a situation is, what is bound to happen, and the expected results. If you are unable to purchase social story materials, you can create your own at home. Teach them how to wash hands, maintain social distance, wearing a mask, and such related topics. This will help explain to them what is happening and is a great way to help them interact.
- Creating structure.
Children facing autism have difficulties related to planning, flexible thinking, working memory, and self-regulation. This makes it cumbersome for them to concentrate, control their behavior, and even focus. Availing a structure for them to follow during this pandemic is a good way of helping them complete tasks. Do not be inclined to think that the pandemic has no impact on them. Planning out their day and having a routine for them will help them to understand what they need to do and when. They can know what activities they need to undertake and such as playing and, at what time they should stop when to sleep, eat, etc. It can involve the use of pictures to represent activities and color-coding. With this method, eventually, they develop a sense of direction and satisfaction.
- Control screen time.
Screen time rules seem not to be as serious as before, owing to this pandemic whereby children are indoors most of the time. It is vital to note that extended screen time for children with autism may result in issues such as hyperactivity, sleeping disorders, and constant irritability. Electronic and related gadgets are good, but being intentional about when and how children use these devices is a key consideration. Plan out different times within the day when children with autism can use electronic devices and when they need to interact with others. Have one-on-one interactions with the children and play some games to get their minds off the screen and promote development.
- Optimize children’s opportunities.
Visits to the doctors may not be as frequent owing to the pandemic. To help children with autism, research a couple of medical practitioners who offer their services online. You may also request the professionals to avail you with a model to manage the situation and keep children active at home. Your child may experience changes in eating habits, sleeping patterns, or just normal behavior. If your child has deteriorated and seems not to improve, ensure to ask if the medical practitioner can physically examine your child and customize autism treatment. Discover and explore related interventions and ensure to stay connected with your child’s doctor.
- Try calming activities.
Since the pandemic time revolves around so much uncertainty, engage in activities that will help you and your child relax. Such activities could include drawing together, singing, and exercising. It may help them to stay calm at all times and recharge for the next day. Do not let anxiety take a toll on you or your child.
You can’t give from an empty cup. Ensure to take care of yourself to be in a position to take the better of your child. Have enough rest when you get the chance, plan out routines, and sleep adequately. Remember, you need to be in a good mental space to take care of your child and customize autism treatment for them.