Helping Your Child with Autism Thrive


If your child has recently been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you may be worried, and wondering what will happen next.  While ASD is not something that people grow out of, there are many treatments and therapies that can help your child build skills and overcome developmental challenges. Assistance is available, from free government services to in-home behavioral therapy to school-based programs, and you can find ways to help your child learn, grow, and thrive. Be proactive about your child’s treatment, seeking help as soon as you suspect there’s an issue.

Early intervention is important in successful treatment of autism. Learn as much as you can, not just about autism, but about your child, and learn to appreciate your child’s individuality and the things that make him or her unique. Then, employ these tips to help your child thrive:

      • Provide consistent structure - Know what your child’s teachers and therapists are doing, so that you can create a sense of continuity at home, helping your child transfer techniques from one environment to another. Keep your child’s schedule highly structured, and try to minimize disruptions to the routine. Be consistent in dealing with challenging behavior, and offer positive reinforcement for good behavior.

      • Connect with your child nonverbally - Your voice, touch, and body language are all important, and by learning your child’s nonverbal cues, you’ll be better able to communicate. Be observant, and you’ll be able to pick up on your child’s cues and what they indicate. Look for the motivation behind challenging behaviors, and you’ll be better at managing them. Remember that your child with ASD is still a child, and make sure you’re finding time to have fun together. Be aware of your child’s sensory sensitivities, understanding that some children with ASD are hypersensitive to sensory stimuli, while others are under-sensitive. By understanding your child’s responses, you’ll be better able to anticipate and prevent difficult situations.

      • Find a treatment plan that fits your child - A good plan will build on your child’s interests, teach tasks through simple steps, offer a predictable schedule, provide highly structured activities that actively engage your child, include regular behavior reinforcement, and involve the parents.

      • Seek support - In addition to finding support for your child, look for ASD support groups, respite care, and individual, marital, or family counseling. For your child, be aware that children with ASD are eligible for a range of free or low-cost government services, including early intervention for very young children and special education services for children over three.
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