7 things to understand about a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder
An adult has to understand the child from the child’s perspective. How is the Child with Autism different from other children? What is the child trying to convey? What is the child thinking and feeling? If a parent can look at the world through the eyes of the child it will be easier for the parent to deal with the child. Some pointers below:
1. Autism is one aspect of the child
The child with Autism is like other children but with a disability. He or she is a child first with all the attendant features of a child of his/her age. The disability is one of the characteristics of the child, it is not the whole child. Although labelling the child as ‘Autistic’ helps us to understand the disability that the child is suffering from, the label defines one aspect of the child.
2. More sensitive to sensory inputs
We are constantly inundated with sensorial inputs around us. Our five senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch are alert all the time. Are we sensitive to certain sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches? Some of us may be turned off by smells of certain sort (fish, onion, garlic etc.) Some of us may be put off by certain kind of music or sounds (tap leaking, chairs being dragged on the floor, door closers squeaks etc). Can we say no one should be put off by such things? When an adult comes and tells us that the smell, taste of some things don’t agree with them, we accept it but why do we find it difficult to accept the same when said by a child? An autistic child is a child more sensitive to the environmental stimuli. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches that may not bother a normal person can cause a lot of pain and discomfort to a child with Autism. They are not making it up, or exaggerating when they complain about it. If as adults we can understand that, we will communicate with them better.
3. Understanding not hearing is a problem
The child with autism does not respond to those around him in the same manner as those normal children. They do not understand our communication with them easily. They are not responding not because they don’t hear you. They hear you but they cannot understand instructions the same way as an ordinary child would. Adults need to have greater amount of patience with these children.
4. Preference for Regular routines
All adults and children like routines and the autistic child is no different. In fact he is more comfortable with routines. He does not like suddenness, arbitrariness and impromptu change of plans. Once the routines are set for him, he will follow it diligently. He know what to expect at what time and what is expected of him at different times of the day. Routines anchor this child to real life more than it anchors other children.
5. Don’t like comparison as much as anyone else
What will hurt these children is comparing them with others around them. They cannot understand the comparison but they know that the adult is not pleased with them about something.
6. Not great with words
Children with autism have a difficulty with communication in many different ways. One of the ways is the fluency with words. These children are not fluent with words and their meaning and this makes it more difficult for them to express their likes and dislikes because they don’t know the language to express their preferences.
7. Focus on strengths not on weaknesses
Everyone has strength and weaknesses and the child with Autism is no different. She is capable of doing many things and struggles with other things. If the adult around them can focus on what she does well and help her with it, it will be better than constant focus on what she does not do well.