9 crucial tips for your autistic child
Our friend and former colleague Dalia Colon has an excellent story on HealthyState.org's website in which she interviews a man who was diagnosed as an adult with Asperger's syndrome. Aside from his own fascinating story he offers 9 critical tips for parents of autistic children. Anyone who knows an autistic child could learn from this as well.
Always presume intellect. Researchers are finding that even kids who are nonverbal often have high IQs. Be on the lookout for new-tech ways to communicate with your child.
Routine is important. Those on the autism spectrum need to know they’ve got safe, comfortable and dependable routines at home even when learning new things and experiencing new situations.
Encourage the child to cultivate friendships with other children on the spectrum. There’s an intuitive resonance – a bond – between those with autism, and it’s a relief to spend time together and compare stories. Of course, friendships with neurotypical (NT) kids are crucial, too.
Encourage the child to be neurologically “bilingual.” As kids gets older, reading Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People can be a real eye-opener.
Fake eye contact Speaking of eyes, children need to learn to fake eye contact. Encourage them to look at the mouth, the forehead, the bridge of the nose – whatever works.
Encourage interests Spectrumites tend to REALLY get into certain subjects; that’s why they’re the inventors and innovators of the world. Encourage children to get into subjects that will help them in the workaday world as they get older.
Have escape routes Always make sure children have an escape route for any social/crowd situations, which can be excruciating. For example, if you’re going to a family gathering, make sure children have a quiet place to go if they get overwhelmed due to sensory overload. McAuliffe can’t emphasize enough how empowering this is for a spectrumite: to know they have a measure of control over their own lives.
Don’t be a know-it-all. Something else children need to learn that is absolutely crucial in their dealings with the NT world: Just because you’re right and someone else is wrong, it isn’t always good to say so.
Find the funny Most important of all: Help the child cultivate a sense of humor. Be able to see the humor in social gaffes and in human behavior in general.
What a wonderful gift this man has given us! Thanks Dalia for letting him tell his story and share his wisdom.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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