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Being a parent is one of the most challenging yet rewarding jobs you will ever do. During the nine months of pregnancy, the anticipation and anxiety grow. But when the happy day arrives, the loves washes away the pain of delivery. Most parents fear their child will hurt themselves, which is a normal part of growing up. Unfortunately, raising a child with autism comes with other concerns. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2018, 1 in 59 children had an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis.
Many parents worry about how to deal with autism. Thanks to advances in treatment, children receive the help and education they deserve.
Learning how to cope with autism as a parent
When someone receives a medical diagnosis of a disorder, feeling shocked is natural. But when a parent learns their offspring has a disorder, they take it personally. Some parents develop guilt because they believe they caused the ASD. Other parents will go into treatment overload to get their kids to behave the same way as their peers with ASD.
There is no quick fix for handling ASD. Nor is there a cure for the disorder. Each person with ASD exhibits different symptoms. Thus, treating the disorder requires approaching each person individually.
Finding the right treatment
An ASD diagnosis can occur as early as two years of age. The younger a child begins treatment, the better the chances of seeing behavior improvements.
There isn’t a one-stop shop for children with autism. Instead, it may take several different treatments before specific behaviors change.
Learning the types of treatment available when raising a child with autism, dyspraxia, or something else can make the journey smoother for the whole family.
Types of treatment
The CDC lists the types of ASD treatment into four categories:
- Behavioral Communication Approaches
- Dietary Approaches
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Behavioral communication approaches get used often. Examples of BCA treatment include Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-Based (DIR), Occupational Therapy (OT), and Speech Therapy (SP).
Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA therapy has grown in popularity since the 1960s. It focuses on the belief that behaviors impact an individual and behaviors get impacted by an individual’s environment. Early Start Denver Model is an early intervention behavioral model that assists children ages one-four years old.
Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-Based (DIR) or Floor Time improves the relationship of the child with the caregiver by increasing socialization and language. Occupational Therapy strives to teach independent living skills. Speech therapy helps assess a child’s speech development problems and improve language skills.
While medication can not remedy the main symptoms of ASD, it may help with some of the “related symptoms,” according to the CDC. More research is necessary on the use of dietary approaches and complementary and alternative medicine to show their benefits and safety.
Get support when raising a child with autism
Parents of children with autism need the support of others. Whether you are married or co-parenting, caregivers need outside help. Consider joining organizations for parents of kids with autism or seeking therapy to discuss your issues.
Just as there are groups specifically for people with autism, there are also ones for their parents. Developing a network of parents might keep you sane on those tough days when you feel alone.
Reach out to family and friends too.
It’s essential to realize your self-care is necessary. If you don’t care for yourself, you risk burnout, which isn’t healthy. So, hanging out with friends or going on a date with your significant other at least once a month is a good idea.
Rely on a trusted family or a respite agency to give you time out of the home. They will likely be happy to help and to spend quality time with your young one at the same time.
Most kids like going outdoors. If your child struggles with large crowds and noises, then go out when there are fewer people around. But keeping your kid couped up in the house isn’t suitable for their socialization skills or helps the child feel more independent.
Introduce outings and vacations to get your child used to being out of the house for leisure and not strictly for school.
Take it one day at a time
Learning how to deal with autism takes time. You need to realize that your child is unique and doesn’t need fixing. But with patience, specific behaviors can change and allow your child’s quality of life to improve.