Parents of children with autism deal with so much on a daily basis from fighting with school systems for their child's rights to judgments from other parents about the way they parent their child. Here are a few things that may give you a better understanding of how these kids work.
1. Children with autism are capable of looking you in the eyes.
- Although it may not be as often as "typical" children, they are capable of this. It may take you getting down to their level and asking for their attention. And, even when they may not be looking at you, this does not mean they aren't paying attention.
2. It is called a spectrum for a reason.
- All autism is not the same. The spectrum ranges from non-verbal (also referred to as "autistic disorder") to high functioning and extremely vocal children who would be classified as a child with Aspergers syndrom. Additionally, once a child is diagnosed, he or she may display different attributes or qualities of their particular disorder, or even other disorders on the spectrum. In most cases, autistic children also have versions of other conditions such as anxiety, ODD, ADHD and OCD.
3. They want to be social and feel included.
- Children with autism want to be social but they may have trouble connecting with other children. This may require help from adults when in social situations. What you will most likely notice is that children with autism lack social grace. So when they see other children raising their hands in class to answer the teachers question it doesn't dawn on them that maybe they shouldn't blurt out their answers.
4. They want to have a conversation with you.
- Kids with autism have the tendency of talking "at" you instead of "to" you and often become obsessed with a specific topic. They want to interact but this often makes it difficult to have a two way conversation. You may notice that the child with autism will want to talk about their favorite subject and no matter what topic you try to talk to them about they will almost always steer the conversation back to their topic.
5. Being autistic does not mean they are "dumb" or lack intelligence.
- These children may have poor social skills but don't let this fool you. They can learn and retain a lot of information and, in some cases, more than their peers. One major difference? Children with autism take things very literally because their minds work differently than a child who doesn't have autism. So if you say "hold your horses" they will literally look for horses to hold.
6. They give and receive love.
- Children with autism need and want love and attention. They are not void of this emotion. They will kiss, cuddle and enjoy closeness just like their peers. There might be those times they may not want that wet kiss from grandma but, let's face it, a lot of kids try to avoid this -- autism or not!
7. Their world affects them.
- You may often see these children walking around covering their ears or reacting to loud noises such as bells ringing or toilets flushing. These behaviors are not just simply overreactions. These sounds jolt their system. To children with autism it's like a tornado of sound roaring through their little bodies.
8. It's autism, not bad parenting.
- Some people that don't know a lot about autism or don't understand may think "that kid just needs a spanking" but this is not the case. Autism is much more complicated than just good and bad behavior. Parents of children with autism aren't just ignoring bad behavior. They understand that every behavior is a way for their child to communicate. Some children may run around when they are tired and others may throw a tantrum because they are scared or overwhelmed. As someone who doesn't have an autistic child, trust that the parent knows the child best and is dealing with the behavior in a way that's appropriate for the child.
The number of children with autism is growing at an alarming rate. These children are here and their parents want them to enjoy the same things other children their age get to enjoy. There may be a few more tantrums along the way and a lot of one way conversations, but if everyone was the same, life would be totally boring.
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