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What Parents Should do

If you've recently learned that your child has or might have an autism spectrum disorder, you're probably wondering and worrying about what comes next. No parent is ever prepared to hear that a child is anything other than happy and healthy, and a diagnosis of autism can be particularly frightening. But there are many things parents can do to help children to overcome the challenges.

Accept your child's condition

When a professional, a therapist or a teacher, tells you something that is hard to hear about your child, consider that they are trying to help you so that you can address the problem. Denial of your child's condition is a natural reaction. It's a way of coping up, so don't be guilty about it. But don't let your denial come in the way of child's treatment.

Accepting your child's condition helps you to opt for the treatment at an early age. The early intervention for the children with Autism increases their chance of overcoming their difficulties.

Begin with your attitude

Children learn and grow in relation to the environment and people around them. You, as a parent or primary caregiver, are a powerful influence on your child's daily interactions with the world and so on his or her learning. What you do in relation to your child is not as important as  how you do it. It is all about your attitude.

Your perspective on the world, yourself, your child and autism is infused in every action you take.

Taking a loving, accepting and optimistic attitude towards your child is the most powerful thing you can do to create a deeper relationship through which to most effectively support your child's development.

Keep the environment stress free

The children tend to be highly sensitive to the noise. So, if you talk to them in raised voice or through gestures to control them, they think that the situation is "out of control", and they start seeing you as "not a reliable" one to depend upon for security. Children learn what they see and experience. So, if they see you to be anxious, they also learn to be the same. So, for a sensitive child, this anxiety weakens or breaks down their communication. It affects their brain making them not understand other's feelings and emotions. As a consequence, the child develops high level of stress hormones which results in the lowering of trust level hormones. Without the trust in others and in him or her, play becomes distasteful and learning from others become very difficult.

Thus, a stress free environment helps the child to express himself and understand others better.

Nurture your child

Our children are highly intelligent and they have much stronger sense of self-identity. They resist simple academic tasks due to lack of self-motivation. They have tendency to relate to the abstract objects rather than to the objects that have an emotional component. Thus, they find difficulties in sequencing and categorizing objects.

Nurturing means nourishing, feeding, educating, and helping them to grow and develop.

To nurture means to support you child. The various steps to nurture the child are:

Respect the children as little person: The child needs to learn to put words to their needs. You are teaching your child social manners when you address him like a respected person: "Please sit down" or "It would be very helpful if you could pick up your toys" instead of ordering "Sit down" or "Pick up your toys". Treat the children according to their age. It looks very inappropriate if you treat a 15 years old boy like 2 years old by coddling him.

Give opportunities to the child to solve problems: Learning to problem solve begins in infancy, and it is a skill that improves with practice. Babies are busy scientists who explore, experiment, and come to use trial and error strategies to reach a desired toy or to get the attention of a caregiver. Thus, by good exposure, the child develops good emotional problem solving and motor coordination. This builds confidence and trust in oneself. This motivates the child to learn and perform various academic tasks and also makes them independent.

Play with your child: Many people think that "play" and "learning" are separate. They think that academic school work is learning, but play is activity for young children to get rid of excess energy or for ways of passing time. It is not true. Actually, children gain powerful knowledge and useful social skills through play. Play increases dexterity and grace

Balance your assistance: If the child hesitates when presented with a new task, the parent can ask, "Where would you like to start?" - instead of doing it for the child. Doing the task for the child takes away the discovery aspect for the child. If child struggles, thinks, tries, retries and then solves the task, the experience is far more stimulating for him. Giving your child opportunities to solve problems reflects your belief in him, and it would develop his trust in him or her.


References

[1] Stressed Out Parents. Authors: Patricia Theisen, Founder of Perception Enrichment Program.