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What Are the Best Tips for Parenting Autistic Children?

Article Details
  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 04 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Parenting autistic children can be a big challenge for anyone, and involves education, formulating an action plan, and then implementing that action plan. The severity of autism can vary a great deal from the high-functioning Asperger's Syndrome to severe autism, causing each child's situation to be different. Autism therapies often involve behavioral modification through psychological treatment, and even medical treatment. Dealing with autism requires a great deal of patience, since finding the most effective strategies often is a matter of trial and error.

The starting point for parents of autistic children is education, not only for the parents, but for the child. If the parents receive a diagnosis of autism for a child, they should read about the condition and try to consult with others who are dealing with the same issues. Also, they should make their schools aware of the situation. Public education systems in most countries generally provide, by law, additional help for those with developmental and learning disabilities. This should include developing an individualized education plan for the child.

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After becoming educated, the next step is for parents to formulate an action plan. This could include working with a psychiatrist to develop a medicinal plan for behavior outbursts and other behavior issues. It may also include identifying and using other resources in the community to provide educational and social opportunities for autistic children. The plan should also focus on the parent perhaps by identifying respite resources. Parenting an autistic child is a rewarding, yet draining challenge, and parents should not feel bad about needing a break from time to time.

Parents considering autism therapies should not only work with the school, but also with a licensed psychologist, preferably one with experience or expertise in children with developmental disabilities. A treatment that is popular with many parents of autistic children is known as applied behavioral analysis. This therapy involves helping the child develop motor, verbal, and social skills, which often are impacted by autism. Therapists and teachers use a variety of teaching methods through this comprehensive approach, which can be implemented during school and in other therapeutic environments.

Autistic children are often very visual in terms of their interactions and understanding. Many parents have found success in developing a schedule of activities, and putting visual representations of those activities along a timeline for the child to follow. This is an idea has even been used to teach children with autism how to speak in complete sentences.

Another thing for parents to remember is to always talk to an autistic child, even if the child does not respond verbally. The lack of a response, or even a simple acknowledgment, does not mean the child did not hear or understand. Often, autistic children do listen, even though they may not react.

Above all, raising a child with a condition along the autistic spectrum is going to take patience in understanding. There will be times when a parent feels frustrated, guilty, and exhausted. While there is no cure for autism, there are treatments that can help deal with the resulting problems. It just takes time and patience to determine what strategies work best. The condition manifests itself in so many different ways, that treatments and strategies truly must be customized to the individual child.

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