By Dr. Chanchal Agrawal, Consultant Occupational Therapist at Child Guidance Centre, Sahyadri Hospital
1) Identify your child’s strengths
Identifying your child’s strength is more important than building self-esteem. This can be done by communicating with the child, teaching social norms and motivate them to express their needs and feelings. The key is to understand and communicate with your child.
2) Praise your child, not punish them
Unwanted behaviour might be a meltdown due to sensory overload or it might stem from anxiety caused by a black-and-white “no middle ground” thought process. In any of the above case, getting a reward to avoid harmful consequences can prove effective.
3) Avoid negative emotional reactions, such as anger, sarcasm, and ridicule
There is an unfounded assumption that children with Autism spectrum disorder do not feel empathy. But the reality is quite the opposite – children suffering from autism greatly feel empathy and other emotions.
4) Don’t compare siblings
One of the most important factors while dealing with an autistic child is not to compare them with their siblings. Instead, focus should be on whether the child is happy with his/her siblings. It is important to challenge the child in different ways and help them push their boundaries. It is also important to highlight and celebrate the child’s growth and success.
5) Get support
It is important to consult right people to get support while bringing up an autistic child. Professional support can be extremely helpful in such cases; however friends and family are also important. Children sometimes open up better to friends and relatives which further helps them to cope up with the society in a better way.
6) Give your children positive attention
Don’t restrict yourself to few hours of interaction with your children. It is important you give them positive attention while being honest and accurate. Listen to your child carefully when he is speaking about his interest. This positive attention keeps them motivated.
7) Travel with your child
Whether small trips or a long vacation, it is important for the parents to take their children out frequently. Changes in environment further leads to positivity among children. This helps them adapt the environment in a better way especially coping with the changes.
8) Accept the truth
It’s a completely new learning for parents to understand their child’s needs. The only goal to keep in mind: that the child will be happy and self-sufficient as an adult and this becomes extremely important when you are dealing with an autistic child.
9) Don’t rely on internet completely
It can scare the crap out of you. Seriously, stop playing “Dr. Google.” Step away from the search engine.
10) Don’t give up on your child, ever!
Be patient with your child and never despair of child’s learning skills.