Autism spectrum disorder is considered to be a complex condition. However, with scientists researching the ways to get over this problem, it has become easier to understand the disorder and deal with it in a more sensitive manner. This disorder can disable patients to interact and communicate properly with others and may lead to behavioral challenges. The symptoms of this disorder varies in different individuals. As far as definite cure for this disorder is concerned, we do not have much to brag about but scientists have come up with certain therapies that have proved to be effective in helping teenagers feel better and interact more comfortably with people.
Education is considered to be an effective medium to deal with teenagers suffering from autism spectrum disorder. Some of the techniques include learning about a particular culture, religion or disability in order to inculcate understanding about the particular subject. As a parent, rather than losing hope of recovery in your child, you should research about the long-term effects of the problem and spend time interacting with parents of other such children to learn tips to handle a particular situation. This will give you confidence to deal with your child. Such an assignment should consist of a great deal of thinking, learning, and interaction with moms and dads of children who have faced the situation and then incorporating the suggestions in your ways of dealing with your child.
Music has been found effective in helping people deal with autism spectrum disorder. It has been found that a particular pitch has an enormous effect on the body and helps a patient recover well. The patient is referred to a music therapist when symptoms of tension are observed. There are several other ailments and disorders that can be healed with the use of music therapy. Music that motivates children to dance and sing proves effective in helping them communicate and develop social skills.
Researches prove that autistic children respond to music by singing and some of them may even start interacting through singing. Music therapy can help autistic patients in different ways. It is beneficial to them because it makes them respond to things in their surrounding. The reason why music proves to be so effective is that music sessions give them a chance to express themselves in public.
It is not very easy to tell teenagers things they can’t do and behaviors they must get rid of. Rather, it is always an effective strategy to tell them what they should do instead. For instance, some examples may be, “You should not shout back at the teacher when she scolds you, but you can go for a walk, write in your diary about how you feel and how you promise yourself never to repeat that mistake again.” The message that should stay in the end should be: “Your feelings are normal and we will help you express them in better ways that will help you succeed and you will be responsible in dealing with the situation at hand.” This therapy proves to be very helpful for autistic children because in many cases their mind is deviated to the substitution that is offered to them and they act accordingly.
Shaping behaviors is considered to be one of the effective approaches that divides action into steps and believes in rewarding teens if they move in the right direction. For example, if you want the teen to learn the skill of acknowledging a visitor through greeting, you would ultimately want the teen to follow the following steps:
- Stop the activity they are performing at that moment
- Pay attention by standing up
- Look at the visitor
- Approach the visitor
- Eye contact to be made with the visitor
- Pass a smile
- Greet him with a hello
- Shake hand with the visitor
- Introduce himself by telling his name
To expect that the teen suffering from autism spectrum disorder perform all these activities at once, is expecting too much all at once. So, in the beginning the child should be rewarded only when he stops performing activity at the time some visitor enters the house. After some time, they should be expected to stand up and make eye contact to receive praise. This way the series of steps will be followed by the teenager ultimately. All it requires is a proper morale boost to help him achieve it easily.
People with autism lack the skills to speak and interact in public. Sometimes people with autism repeat others’ words as it is. It has been noted by several parents that their children with autism are able to speak dialogues from TV shows or movies that is not everyone’s cup of tea, with the same accent as the real one. Drama therapy helps individuals with autism to work on their capacity to imitate by learning and speaking out dialogues in a fun setting. Not only this, it also offers participants the chance to utilize this skill and become actors, builds up confidence and gives them the opportunity to earn applause.
Drama therapy can help achieve self-confidence in interacting on social forum, the teen suffering from this disorder develops improved self-esteem and takes pride in his/her accomplishments, it helps achieve improved identification and outburst of own emotions. Drama therapy is a group activity where the participants gain confidence that they can also be successful, and inculcates in them new skills for functioning as part of a group. It also develops improved ability to interact with peers and boosts self-confidence.
Rewarding positive behavior
Rewarding positive behavior is the best way to make sure that the same action is performed repeatedly by the teen. It is found that mostly parents are so busy finding out fault and pointing out negative behaviors in their teens that it becomes difficult for the child to stay responsible for a long duration. It is very necessary for the child to be rewarded for his responsible behavior. It is not always necessary to reward him through gifts or cash.
Many a times words like: “I appreciate the fact that…” or “I really like it when…” can work wonders and be a motivating factor for the teen to continue with that particular work for which he has been appreciated. It has been found out through research that for every negative comment that the teen with autism spectrum disorder experiences, it takes four positive comments to make up for those negative comments. It becomes the responsibility of parents to maintain the balance.
It is said that “Prevention is always better than cure”. It is thus easier to prevent negative behavior than to deal with it afterwards. A very effective strategy is to pre-teach the teen before the event – especially if the situation or the event is bound to arise. This includes talking to the teen or the group about the situation that will be occurring, and telling them why, and what their strategy, action or behavior should be in that particular situation.
Pre-teaching is helpful as it decreases anxiety, builds confidence and helps the individual in anticipating an event. If the teen suffering from autism spectrum disorder, is instructed beforehand about the positives and negatives of a particular action, it will surely prove to be effective.
It is often seen that teens suffering from autism spectrum disorder feel frustrated because they think they are not being properly understood by their parents. As a parent, all you need to do is to pay heed to what your child is trying to convey to you. Listen more and try to be less fussy about things. To listen to your child actively is not a very easy task and will need practice at your end.
Active listening need not last for a long time, but attention must be totally on the teen. Try and keep yourself free from other works at that point of time. Not just listening, you should also communicate back to confirm the child that he/she was really heard. Body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, eye contact and choice of words plays a great role in putting across the right message. It may take two or three attempts to understand the message and that is alright because your child needs that time of yours.
You must look for volunteer activities or part time jobs at the high school or in the community. Don’t hesitate in asking the school to help in the areas of career choice, job availability and internships. Every school has such provision for intellectually challenged children, but may not realize that your teen needs that help until and unless you ask for it. They may also not know how the existing programs might meet the needs of your teen. It is thus required that instead of shying away from the reality and staying with the false hope that your child will act like other children of his age who can interact better than him, you need to become active and ask for required help for the better future of your child.