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Raising a child with autism: How to help them thrive

raising a child with autism

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 shock 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 kid 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 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
  • Medication
  • 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 1960’s. 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 works to help a person improve their 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 trusted family or a respite agency to give you time out of the home; they’ll likely be happy to help and to spend quality time with your young one at the same time.

Remaining social

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.

Introduce outings and vacations to get your child use 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.

26 thoughts on “Raising a child with autism: How to help them thrive”

  1. This is a nice outline of some of the supports and services out there. This is an overwhelming process for any parent. Thanks for taking the time to put this together and share it.

  2. I think ‘one day at a time’ is a good mantra for most of us, but probably more so for the parents of children with ASD. What a tough job parenting can be.

  3. petespringerauthor

    I have read that among eight-year-old children who have autism, the rate of children has gone from 1 in 150 born in 1992 to 1 in 68 born in 2002. It makes me question whether there are more cases or we’re simply becoming more educated about autism. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014)

    1. Hubby can pick up my blog on Facebook so I have to be careful what I say on my blog posts. I can’t let on how I have to do most things for him, and clean up each time he poops himself, how I have to tell him the same thing over, and over again, and how mad he gets. I just deal the best I can with it.

    2. As I enter into marriage in November I will remember that there is no magic ball to tell us what is to come, we are sharing ourselves for better or worse, and remember the good times when those rough ones come. Sending hugs xx

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