What will it be like living with an autistic child? Many people hear a diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and become overwhelmed with fear, not knowing what it will be like for a child to live with autism. An autism diagnosis, while life-changing, simply means you’ll have to take extra steps to care for your child. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability that affects one’s neurological functions. The “spectrum” means that people with autism function on a wide array of levels.
With the growing diagnoses of autism, there are many resources available to help those with ASD and their caregivers. Parents need to know what to look for when observing their child’s behaviors and what steps they can take to help.
Living with autism presents unique challenges. However, there are ways to overcome the difficulties and lead a full, productive life.
Living With an Autistic Child
Parents may notice differences in their children from an early age. Paying attention to the early signs of autism, like these listed below, can help you understand what a child with autism may experience.
Challenges With Social Interactions
If a child does not like to communicate and avoids eye contact, they may be showing signs of ASD in interpersonal communication. Children with Autism may even gravitate toward playing solo when given a chance to have playtime with peers. These children prefer logical and tangible play to imaginary play.
Fascinations With Topics of Interest
Those with ASD also find a topic of interest and want to learn all the facts and information. It is comforting for individuals with autism to be experts in a subject of their choice.
People with autism are passionate about learning. While the topics that interest them are different for every person, they provide comfort to those with ASD. Education is also essential because they can use their knowledge to teach others and have social interactions.
Language is Literal
For individuals with autism, the language of hyperbole, exaggeration, and sarcasm are not understood. The mind of an autistic person process things very literally. The things others may see as extremes, they see as possible. Individuals with autism are straightforward, precise, and honest.
Reading Emotions Is Confusing
Sometimes a person with autism will tell people exactly what is on their mind. They sometimes do not pick up on social cues of what is comfortable and uncomfortable for others to discuss.
Often, individuals with ASD do not fit in well with others. They can have difficulty finding and maintaining friendships.
Understanding Right and Wrong
Individuals with ADS have a solid moral compass and live to their highest moral ability. They may see the world as right and wrong and have trouble understanding how others would make a choice differently than them.
Not understanding other peoples’ choices may cause an individual with autism to say something that others find hurtful or offensive. Once they realize their actions caused someone pain, they can feel very empathetic and sad to have hurt someone.
Trouble Making Friends
When making new friends, these individuals may miss out on social signals. They may not realize if they are doing something bothersome and may have struggles working with a group.
Sometimes autistic people do not like making direct eye contact and can feel uncomfortable by this kind of social connection. However, they may connect with specific individuals who are patient and empathetic.
Struggles With Change
Those with ASD find extreme discomfort with new situations or any changes in their routine. Most individuals are creatures of habit and crave consistency. This consistency is especially true for those with autism.
Daily schedules, bells between classes, and the same type of toothpaste can all be familiar and comforting parts of a day. If something gets off schedule, it can be overwhelming and much harder to react calmly.
Change is not the only stimulus that affects those with autism. The autistic mind is fascinating and brilliant but can often feel overwhelmed.
Sensory overload is often one of the most challenging aspects of the day for those on the spectrum. Minor annoyances that most people may not even notice can become overwhelming triggers.
Those with autism can have sensitivities to noise and light. The buzz of a broken battery in a device, the loud talking of individuals in a crowded space, the constant movement of people or flashing lights can cause overstimulation and stress.
Desire to Avoid Situations
Sometimes those with ASD need to drown out the noise around them that can be overwhelming—using noise-canceling devices can help. Headphones can also help to cover the sound with a more soothing or familiar tune.
Those with autism may try to leave an overwhelming situation. Sometimes the desire to flee can get an individual in trouble at school or work.
How to Talk About ASD
The tricky part about autism is that it is not easy to talk about with others. No individual wants to be seen as being different in their younger years. Those with autism do not always want to disclose their disability to friends.
School and autism can be difficult, but there are services that students with ASD can have to help with daily life. Sometimes sharing about their autism can make them feel unusual to those with misconceptions.
Common Misconceptions About Autism
There are many misconceptions people have about autism. Some people think autism is only present in children. Children diagnosed may have a long journey of learning ahead. Learning includes ways to handle triggers or learning social skills.
Adults on the spectrum have had a long time to learn what behaviors others find unsocial. They may have had time to practice working or dating. These social interactions can help those with autism understand others and improve their social skills over time.
A Better Perspective on Autistic Life
Thinking that autistic people are unable to do what others can is a limited perspective. Individuals with autism are intelligent, unique and thoughtful.
While there are different levels of ASD, most individuals have strong skills in reading, memorization, visual learning, punctuality, plus a solid ethical and moral code. Additionally, staying focused and paying attention to detail can help them work at a much faster pace than their peers.
Be a Helping Hand
People with ASD want others to understand them, but those not on the spectrum do not always know how to respond. In this situation, it is best to ask what you can do to help.
Helping may mean teaching an appropriate reaction, providing headphones, or an eye mask. It could also mean giving someone the time to be alone, think and find something that soothes them.
How to Live With Autism
Those with Autism have to face statistics that report what they will not achieve. Nobody wants to hear what they can’t do. Just like their peers, individuals with autism want to be treated with respect and given the same opportunities as their peers. They want to sit next to their friends in class, go on dates and find acceptance.
Parents of an Autistic Child
Raising an autistic child is challenging. It can mean classes, teaching appropriate behaviors and responses and preparing children for difficult situations. Autism requires patience, but it can also be the greatest gift and blessing.
Sometimes family members of those with ASD can feel forgotten and neglected as their needs take a backseat. But if healthy communication occurs, people living with autistic individuals can learn to be more kind, honest, patient, and peaceful.
Working Through the Challenges
Living with autism means individuals will have challenges and will need support and social skills. If you have a child with autism, we know you desire to help them grow and learn. There are many ways autism can be treated, and you may find multiple forms of therapy at different times in their lives to be helpful.
At ABA Centers of America, we specialize in helping families create the brightest future possible. We have experience with all forms of autism and with people of all ages. If you’re interested in learning more about how ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy can help, contact us today for a free consultation with one of our autism treatment professionals.