Medical experts and scientists are still not able to explain why autism occurs. Up until today, this condition remained an enigma, which leaves a lot of room for speculations, as well as for fear and prejudices coming from those who don’t understand it. Fiction and movies, such as the famous “Rain Man”, created a certain image for people with autism by bringing them down to extraordinary individuals with some sort of cognitive superpower but alas – without any social skills, and with restrictive and repetitive behavior. The reality is a bit different, though.
When it comes to children with autism, some parents handle it better, while others have real difficulties to accept the reality. Even though autism can certainly be a lot to comprehend, especially if your child is in question, there are several things we all need to understand about it.
Their Sensory System is Often Overwhelmed
What is the usual stimulus for the neurotypical minds, such as everyday smells, tastes, sights, and the level of noise, can be overwhelming for a child with autism. This is because one or more senses are either overactive or underactive to the external world. Because of this high sensitivity, a simple trip to the grocery store can end up with tears and screaming. In these situations, children feel frightened and defensive, as they cannot control anything that surrounds them. What is simple people noise in the waiting line for you might be a nightmare for a child with hyperacute hearing. And there is a reason for repetitive behavior here: the moment a child feels stressed, excited, or bored – it turns to these patterns so to bring order to what he or she is going through and calm down.
They Need Care and Support
Have you heard of Temple Grandin? She is the autism spokesperson and one of the first people on the autism spectrum to speak openly about it. She wrote a book about her personal experience, which gave intriguing insights about the inner world of people with autism, especially in means of how they think and process the information that they are exposed to. Grandin believes in the concept of neurodiversity. In addition to parents’ support and their unconditional love, these children need inclusion-focused services. There are projects such as Infocare, which aim to create a large database of care professionals (autism included), so all those in need of a caregiver can browse through different categories. Children with autism need to have experts by their side that will help with communication and assistive technologies. It’s important to understand this not the same as institualization. On the contrary – it’s respecting the specific needs a child with autism has.
They Think and Communicate Differently
Children with autism are not capable of understanding metaphorical language, nor idioms, sarcasm, puns, etc. They take everything you say quite literally and sometimes – they need a bit of time to process what you say. So if, for instance, you say “something was a piece of cake”, they will we confused about what was that something and where the cake is at the moment. Instead of being frustrated with misunderstandings, try adjusting your way of communication to theirs because it cannot be done vice versa. Most of the children with autism are visually oriented and they think in the form of specific images. Investing your time to work on social skills is important here, but a common mistake parents make is mistaking their child’s inability to communicate with a lack of will to communicate.
It can be a true emotional rollercoaster to raise a child with autism. But by embracing the idea of neurodiversity and trying hard to find a way to communicate and interact with one another, parenting gets a new, deeper meaning. It is extremely challenging for sure, and it requires rock-solid patience. Only by exploring different scientific conclusions can we find the way to march forward. It could be that we simply disregarded something so very different from us that we decided to label it as abnormality. And remember – world needs different kinds of minds.
Article Submitted By Community Writer