In light of autism awareness day, which occurred on the 2nd of April, below is some info that you may not know about autism. Also, there are a few methods on how autism is treated, and how you can support your loved ones with autism. Statistically, in 2015 in Australia, an estimated 164,000 people were diagnosed with autism. This represents about 1 in 150 Australians. It requires a medical diagnosis by a health professional.
What is autism?
To begin to learn how to care for those with autism, we must first understand what it is. Autism is a serious developmental disorder that impairs an individual’s ability to communicate and interact with others around them. This is because it impacts the nervous system- which is the body’s central communication system. As such, it is inclusive of persistent challenges to everyday activities. It also can cause obsessive and unique interests for the individual, and also repetitive behavior. Some other patterns of behavior include:
- Constantly moving around or hyperactive behaviour
- Specific routines or ritual, where if disturbed, anger the individual
- Sensitivity to touch, light and sounds
Do not wait for your child to grow older, thinking they may ‘grow out of’ their habits, as by then it might be too late. If you start seeing signs of autism in your child at a young age, make sure you get them checked as soon as possible. Early intervention, such as therapies or medication can prevent the condition from worsening. It can also allow your child to live a normal as possible life in education and development.
Causes of autism
At the present moment, there is no direct cause for autism, but rather several ‘suspected factors’ that may cause this illness. As such, some of these include
- biological family member, normally immediate- who also has autism
- genetic mutations
- fragile X syndrome, and other genetic disorders
- being born into a family of older parents
- low birth weight
- imbalances in metabolism
- exposure to heavy metals and environmental toxins
- viral infections
- fetal exposure to certain medications
How to support someone with autism
There is no right way to support or child or adult with autism, but rather it must be a way that allows them to thrive in their environment and life. Below are a few suggestions of how to support a child with autism:
There has been much research to understand that those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) thrive when they are performing tasks which are scheduled and timetabled out for them. This means having a layout for when they eat, sleep, have therapy, do schoolwork, etc. In order to prevent any upsets, if there will be a change in schedule, do make sure you notify them as soon as possible.
- Give rewards for good behaviour
Most children love it when their good acts are rewarded with a present. Praise them for when they act appropriately, learn a new skill, or perform a new act. Other ways to reward good behavior would be by giving them their favorite foods, giving them stickers, lollies, etc.
- Create a private space just for them
If life gets too much for your child at times, giving them a quiet and private space is important for their wellbeing. This allows them to think through their feelings, be secure and feel very safe. This may involve setting boundaries so that your child understands what they can do and where they can do. If your child is prone to throw anger tantrums ensure you safety- proof the walls with padding to ensure that they do not hurt themselves.
How to support adults with autism
Obviously, supporting adults with autism will differ from how you may support kids, due to different maturity levels for example. Thus, below are. a few ways to support those older individuals:
- Encourage them to join a support group, or attend one with them
Joining a group to talk to like- minded individuals and connect with their challenges will ensure that individuals feel less alone and scared. This will also increase social interaction and contact with the outside world, allowing them to make new friends and connections. This would be extrememly useful in ensuring that they never feel as though they are in this alone.
- Do things they enjoy to do
This applies to both adults and children, but make sure to not neglect their needs or desires, such as going out to the park or cooking. This will ensure that they do not feel neglected or forgotten in the midst of your daily life. However, it is important that you also take time for yourself. Click here for more info, on how to ‘care for carers.’
In order to spread autism awareness, ensure that you are always doing the best you can to support those around you with autism. It is vital that you provide these individuals with care and compassion, as although they may not show it at times, it is deeply appreciated. Always ensure to stay calm and understand their varying boundaries, and how it may be different to yours.