A neurological disorder that was not well known just a couple of decades ago, autism has become one of the fastest-growing diagnoses in the country. One in 68 children in the US are now being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), as opposed to 1 in 88 two years ago, representing an increase of 30 percent. Additionally, one percent of US children ages 3–17 have been diagnosed with an ASD. Caring for a child with an ASD can be a challenge, but with the right resources and knowledge, you can ease some of your worries and give yourself greater peace of mind.
Research Your Child Specifically
Every child is different, and children with the disorder may behave very differently from one another. Some children with autism have a tendency to react negatively when they encounter something that disrupts their normal routine. For instance, a child may become upset when faced with a packed crowd in a restaurant. Know exactly what your child likes and dislikes and what triggers her more intense reactions. Being aware of triggers can help you prepare for when your child becomes agitated or upset.
Since children on the autism spectrum may have a harder time understanding their own safety, it’s important to teach them what is safe and what isn’t. Some children may need constant supervision if they have a tendency to wander. Teaching your child how to use a medical alert device for emergencies may help give you some peace of mind because the child would be able to press the call button for help if he did wander away and end up lost.
Seek Support From Others
Since finding the right way to care for a child with autism can be a challenge on your own, you may want to seek the advice of other parents of children with autism. Support groups are available for families of children with autism to bounce ideas and information off each other and gain valuable advice and support. You are certainly not alone in terms of needing support, and other parents and loved ones experiencing similar challenges can be a great source of both help and comfort.
Special Education Services
Some children with an ASD may perform well in a general education classroom with or without support services. Others who need more individualized attention may fare better in a substantially separate (subseparate) classroom. The special education services team at your child’s school is highly trained in providing modifications to the curriculum that can accommodate your child’s needs. Knowing the specifics of your child’s ASD will help you determine the best course of action for her.