For most of us, a diagnosis of our spouse being on the autism spectrum is a huge thing to deal with. We expect this sort of thing to be identified in childhood. Suddenly, small quirks become things that you need to take care of. What you thought was just “being an introvert”, “too sensitive to certain things” or “being a picky eater” now makes sense.
Be aware and informed
As a spouse, you need to be patient and understanding of your partner. To begin with, read all about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and identify the behavioral styles of your spouse that matches those of ASD.
Give them space
You may have complained about your spouse being anti-social before. Accept that this is difficult for them. Plan parties or gatherings with your set of friends without requiring your spouse to join in. If they feel like, they will come. If you want to have a party at home, allow your spouse to walk into a room inside when he wants to be away from them.
Tell them what you want
Do you want a hug? Say it to them. Your spouse may not be able to understand subtle clues that non-autistic people can gauge. Do you want them to stop interrupting you when you’re talking about something? Set some rules. Tell them that they should speak only when they hear a 5-second pause. You should also tell them that conversations have to alternate between two people so that they don’t hog the conversation completely. Ask them to speak for 2 minutes and then wait for the other person to chip in. Specific rules help them go a long way socially.
It’s okay if they forget occasions
Write down all important occasions on a calendar and ask your spouse to check it everyday. Tell them what you want for birthdays and anniversaries rather than expecting them to surprise you.
Take up activities that they like
Autistic people tend to get “addicted” to things they like. So if your spouse loves jogging, you may find them gone jogging for hours together! While this is great for your spouse’s well being and self esteem, it may eat up in your together time. In such a case, try to get involved in the same activity or join another activity that both of you can enjoy. You need not indulge in the activity for as long as they’d want to, but you could always set up a system where you can leave after a certain period of time in order to continue with your schedule.
It does take a bit of sacrifice if you’re with an autistic person, but it’s all worth it for the partner you love.
Afraid you can’t cook anything new because your autistic child won’t eat it? Fret not, because I’m going to give you tips on how to make sure your child eats, and enjoys, your cooking.
Autistic children are prone to becoming “addicted” to certain types of food. This is caused due to:
- Failure to digest certain foods correctly, making the body create compounds that charge the opioid connectors in the brain, causing cravings to those foods.
- Deficiency in certain minerals such as zinc that cause food to taste bland or different.
- Pathogens such as yeast that result in a craving for only carbohydrates.
- Sensory sensitivities causing a dislike for certain food textures.
Once you’ve identified what your child is addicted to, you can control or even reverse these addictions by following these cooking rules:
1. Keep one item on their plate variable in every meal
This is the best way to introduce your child to new foods. Along with everything the child usually eats, keep one new item in his meal everyday. Just make sure that the color and texture of the new item remains consistent with the rest of the items on the plate. For a really picky eater, this item need not be a surprise, but a selection among the food options that your child likes. Slowly, change this one item to something completely new for the child, in small portions, until he is completely comfortable with this new preparation.
2. Change the texture of vegetables or meat
Children with sensitive sensory functions may like either smooth or crunchy. Make food accordingly. You can make veggies crunchy by cooking them as chips. Carrots, beets and sweet potatoes make for wonderful chips. Experiment with other roots as well. Meats can be pureed or minced for that smooth texture.
3. Add more salt
If your autistic child is “addicted” to chemicals like MSG, add more salt in their food and slowly start reducing it.
4. Trick them into eating treats filled with nutrition
Fill your muffins, pancakes, patties and even cakes with vegetable purees. Use pureed veggies in your gravies. Pureed chicken or other proteins can also be added to pancakes and muffins.
5. Visit a nutritionist for more help
A nutritionist will be able to give you more specific advice based on your child’s special needs. Go see one and get more ideas on how to cook for your autistic child.
Try to involve your child in the cooking. They would be more encouraged to eat food that they have helped cook. Happy cooking!
Many autistic children have a problem with spatial reference and balancing themselves. This is one of the reasons it is so difficult for an autistic kid to learn how to ride a bike. However, if you take the right steps in the right order, your child can learn to be a really good cyclist!
1. Teach the child balance first
With non-autistic children, we first give them a bicycle with training wheels and then remove the training wheels once they are able to ride their cycle. Effectively, what we’re doing is teaching them to pedal first and balance themselves later. This equation needs to be turned around with autistic kids. Their biggest hurdle is balance so you must focus on that.
Get your child a balance bike. These bikes have no pedals so your child puts her feet on the ground and walks with the bike in between her legs. This teaches her how to balance herself while sitting on a bike and also makes her comfortable with this contraption with two wheels.
2. Then teach her to pedal
Once your child is completely comfortable with a balance bike, move her to a pedal bike. This could take years so take your time. You can have the training wheels, but not for too long because you don’t want her to get used to being auto-balanced. She has to apply what she learned with her balance bike.
3. Slowly graduate to a proper bike
Once you are totally sure that your child is ready to learn (and fall) a regular bike, go ahead and buy one. Make sure that your child chooses the bike herself so she is completely comfortable with it. Tell her to sit on it and balance it without the pedals before she makes a choice.
4. Let her choose her gear
Along with the bike, ask your kid to choose her own gear – helmet, kneepads – whatever it takes to make her comfortable on her bike. This is important for her to start using her new bike without too much fear.
5. Choose the right location
Choose an area that doesn’t have too many distractions. Also, try to find a place where the ground is firm, yet not too rough or hard so that your child can fall without getting hurt.
6. Give her time to learn
Your child will take time to learn. Be patient and as encouraging as you can.
7. Encourage, but don’t push
You may try everything by the book, but your child may not be able to learn how to cycle. If your child stops wanting to try, don’t push her. You may want to encourage her from time to time, but leave it at that. Biking is a supposed to be a fun activity so if it’s not for your child, it’s best she does something that she likes in her free time.
So go ahead and do the best you can for your child. Whether she learns to bike or not, make this a way to share some great moments with her!
Autistic people can be some of the most talented people in the world. They see the world differently and this makes them come up with creative and out-of-the-box solutions to various problems. They are interesting and can be geniuses.
That’s why we compiled a list of x famous people with autism so you can see the heights to which an autistic child can take himself/ herself!
1. Susan Boyle
Boyle first appeared in the British TV show, Britain’s Got Talent, where she rocked the audience with her powerful voice. She went ahead to win the show and released her debut album, I Dreamed a Dream, which became UK’s best-selling debut album of all time in 2009.
2. Temple Grandin
Temple Grandin is a superstar! She has a PhD in Animal Science, a professor at Colorado State University, a consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior, a best selling author, an autism activist and she even has a movie made on her! Being autistic helped her see problems the way nobody else did and made her an expert in livestock management.
3. Michael Burry
Michael Burry is an American hedge fund manager. In 2007, he predicted the 2007 collapse of the subprime mortgage market and made a fortune for himself and the investors in his hedge fund. He has excelled in a field that is usually thought of as outside the realm of an autistic person, proving again that there is nothing that an autistic person cannot do.
Another autism suspect was Michelangelo. He did not get along very well with his family, was said to have erratic behavior and had trouble applying himself to anything. Multiple people in his family were also said to have similar traits, which included frequent changes in mood.
5. Daryl Hannah
There aren’t many Hollywood celebrities we know who have autism. But Daryl Hanna overcame her autism to be a movie star and an environmental activist.
6. Stanley Kubrik
Autistic people can be especially good at the arts and in creative fields. Stanley Kubrick was a director, producer, cinematographer and editor. Many of his films were nominated for the Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTAs.
7. Albert Einstein
We don’t know for sure, but many scholars believe that Einstein may have had Asperger syndrome due to his delayed language development, his problems at school, his lack of social tact and his “addiction” to be in control of his work and life!
8. Adam Young
The creator of the electronica music project, Owl City, Adam Young is one of the world’s coolest people with Asperger’s Syndrome.
9. Alan Turing
Alan Turing, the genius who started the era of computer sciences, was an “eccentric” who was posthumously identified as being on the autism spectrum. He was the one who came up with the concepts of algorithms, computations and created the Turing machine.
There are autistic computer geniuses even today, even though they may sometimes be on the wrong side of the law. McKinnon is a computer hacker who was accused of conducting the “biggest military computer hack of all time” in Britain in 2002.
Autistic people bring a perspective to the world that leads to inventions and art at its best. Let’s celebrate these and other famous people with autism by giving them all the support they need.
As a parent of an autistic child, you know how difficult it can be to go out for a party. Leaving your child in someone else’s care is difficult and maybe even dangerous. The nanny or babysitter needs to be well versed in taking care of an autistic child. In fact, they need to be well known to your child so that she is comfortable in their hands. That’s why it is better to celebrate New Year at home, with family and loved ones.
Don’t call too many people
Invite those who are comfortable around your child and vice versa. Close friends and family who frequent the house or spend time with your child are ideal. If you are inviting children, make sure that your child gets along with them. You may even invite families of children with autism so that everybody has a place to celebrate!
Communicate important do’s and don’ts
Like what not to bring to the party, certain colors that people should not be wearing, etc. You could do this without offending people by having a theme or a dress code.
Play the right music
This could fit in to the theme of your party if planned right. Play the kind of music that your child will be comfortable with. Make sure that the volume is not tampered with too much.
Stick with familiar activities
Play games and activities that your child is familiar with. If you have invited other autistic children, take out time to find out what kind of activities they like to indulge in.
Choose the right food
Again, if you have other autistic children over, make sure you’ve arranged for food based on their preference as well. A good way of ensuring this is to have a potluck where each family gets something that they know their kids will eat. Make sure you label the food on the table when its served so people know what they’re picking up without having to bother you.
Prepare your child’s mind for the party
Finally, prepare your child for the party. Get her excited and let her look forward to it. Autistic children usually like structure, so explain the entire plan of the party. You may even want to create a time table of activities and events and share it with all families with autistic children.
It’s not too late if you don’t have anything planned yet. Go ahead and enjoy this new year with your autistic child!
The holiday season can be a great time to introduce new feelings to your child, but be careful as it can be overwhelming for your child to take in all the new sights, sounds and people. There are many ways to help your child cope with the excitement of the holiday season and also get accustomed to the abundance of newer food palates.
Start gradually easing your child into behavioral stimuli much before the holiday season begins. You can consult the therapist about showing your child how to communicate what he wants. Often, irritation or tantrums occur when the child does not know how to communicate what they want. However, be careful to teach them that they wont always get what they want gently but firmly.
Show them how to cope with disappointment positively and patiently. Teaching your child about meal time behaviour can be taxing but it is worth it. This way your family can dine together more often.
Visual representations of Christmas time and stories can help you child get a better perspective of what the season encapsulates. It can provide comfort for him to see pictures or videos of families dining together and may be more relaxed when they day does come.
For the Day
• Make sure your child dresses comfortably. It is not the best time to whip out a new costume with a material or colour your child isn’t already accustomed to. It can add pressure on an already foreign situation.
• Speak to your guests about maintaining pleasant decibels while conversing. Holidays and get –togethers can be loud affairs and that may be unpleasant or daunting to your child. Keep a set of noise reduction headphones in case you sense any discomfort in your child.
• Make sure there is a quiet room to retreat to where your child can relax with some of his favourite toys or books.
• Make sure you encourage him on all good behaviour and provide positive feedback. You know the best what sort of motivation your child responds to so a warm hug or a word of praise will ease him into certain environments.
• Keep strong aromas like scented candles at bay. Your food will already provide newer sensory overload for your child and it is safer to keep any additional sensory input at bay. I hope these tips are helpful in helping you and your family have a lovely time during the holidays!
Everybody thought that Carla loved to misbehave. She wouldn’t want to put on her clothes and would be irritable and cranky all day. She wouldn’t shake hands with people and would cry if the other children touched her.
Carla has autism and is extremely sensitive to touch. What was initially thought of as willful misbehavior was, in fact, a reaction to the discomfort and pain that Carla felt due to some fabrics that she wore and unanticipated touching from others.
Carla’s parents, like many other parents around the world, took time to understand what their daughter was going through. Children (and adults) with autism have what is commonly called Sensory Integration Dysfunction or Sensory Processing Disorder.
Sensory processing problems
All of us have 5 basic senses – sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch. Each of these senses are perceived by the brain with the help of sensory organs. Our eyes, nose, tongue, ears and skin pass information to the brain that processes the data which tells us things like what we’re seeing or what we’re smelling. With autistic kids, this perception created by the brain does not happen properly. Autistic children will, therefore, either be overtly sensitive (hyper) or under-sensitive (hypo) to a certain sense. In Carla’s case, she was hypersensitive to the sense of touch. Opposite cases may mean that a child does not respond to touch at all, may not be able to identify materials with their hands and may hug people very tightly in order to feel safe or loved.
There are 2 additional not-so-basic senses – vestibular and proprioceptive. The vestibular sense allows our body to understand gravity and gives us a sense of balance. Children with vestibular hypersensitivity may have difficulty in stopping while running due to an inability to deal with inertia. Those with vestibular hyposensitivity may move their bodies in a rocking or swinging fashion all the time. The proprioceptive sense makes us aware of our body, the space it occupies and the space around it. Autistic people with proprioceptive hypersensitivity may have problems dealing with small objects and those with proprioceptive hyposensitivity bump into people a lot as they cannot judge the space between them and others.
This amazing page will give you a lot of information you need to know about the sensory perception of people with autism.
Sensory Integration Therapy
So is your child going to be in discomfort or pain all the time? Thankfully, no. As more and more research is done, scientists are finding more effective methods of improving the sensory function of autistic children.
Sensory integration therapy uses play activities to change the way the brain reacts to the sensory inputs given by the sensory organs. A remarkable and reassuring study highlights the benefits of Sensory Integration Therapy on autistic children.
As parents of autistic kids, we must always be aware of the things that they like and dislike. Awareness alone can push us to create next steps for them, which will allow them to live a comfortable life.
High Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger Syndrome (AS) are more similar to each other than different. In fact, many doctors and researchers think that both diagnoses may merge into one category in the near future.
For now though, there are few differences that are debated by those who think that there still might be a varying diagnosis.
Age of onset
One the most widely accepted diagnoses is that signs of HFA can be identified at a very young age, sometimes as early as between the ages of 6 – 18 months. On the other hand, the onset of AS is seen at a much later age, mostly between the ages of 5 and 9.
HFA kids seem to have a problem learning language and generally take a long time to learn to speak, read or understand words. Most AS kids, however, have little impairment in their language development skills. While they may not communicate with too many people, this is due to social impairment and not a problem with speaking or reading
This one is quite controversial, but the view is that impaired motor coordination and skills are found in people with AS but not in people with HFA.
Each of these differences are being debated today as many children who show one difference but not the other get diagnosed with either one of the disorders. Thus, we now have children whose are being diagnosed almost interchangeably, depending on the doctor’s inclination.
Which brings us to similarities in HFA and AS:
- People with both HFA and AS have average to above average IQs.
- They seem to have many development issues that require treatment, therapy and educational changes such as curriculum or teaching methods.
- Kids and adults with HFA and AS have trouble interacting and communicating with others.
While the debate continues, what you as a parent need to know are the areas of development that have obstacles in your child’s functioning. Treatment methods are generally common so it really doesn’t matter what your child has, as long as you can give him / her a happy childhood and prepare them for an independent adulthood.
Rett Syndrome is a disorder in the grey matter of the brain that impairs children’s head growth, ability to speak and their motor skills. It is almost exclusively seen in girls. There is currently a debate on whether Rett Syndrome is part of the autism spectrum or not, but we would like to
Rett Syndrome is caused due to a mutation in the MECP2 gene and is one of the rare autism disorders that has a known cause. The biggest problem with Rett Syndrome is that it causes degeneration in the brain tissue when the child is between 1 to 4 years. This means that a toddler who seems to be learning at a normal pace suddenly sees a decline in motor function and spoken language.
Here are signs to pick up in order to diagnose Rett Syndrome at the earliest:
- Your daughter has stopped making eye contact with everybody.
- She doesn’t have any interest in toys around her.
- She is not able to walk or crawl with ease and prefers to sit in one place. This could happen even after she has learned to walk or crawl.
- Her head is not growing at the pace at which it was earlier.
- Your daughter starts to develop a characteristic and repetitive hand movement like clapping, tapping, wringing or jerking while she is awake.
- She is unable to say words that she had earlier learned.
- She starts having irregular breathing.
- Due to all of the above symptoms, she is irritable and may cry a lot.
- Your daughter starts having seizures
If your daughter has any of these signs, see a doctor and voice your concerns immediately. Early intervention will allow your daughter to live a more comfortable life than what she would have without treatment.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a general term used for a group of brain development disorders that leads to a partial or complete loss of a person’s ability to communicate, socialize or relate to other people. ASD is commonly referred to as simply ‘autism’.
Why is it a ‘Spectrum Disorder’?
It is called a spectrum disorder because it includes an umbrella of disorders such as autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. The term ‘spectrum disorder’ also means that different people are affected differently by ASD and do not have the same symptoms. So autistic people could have low IQs or high IQs, could be absolutely able bodied or have significant disability, could be over-sensitive or under-sensitive to certain senses. One size does not fit all.
Why does ASD happen?
A recent meta-analysis study points to a correlation between the corpus callosum, a large and complex bundle of nerves in the brain, and autism. Individuals with autism tend to have a reduced corpus callosum. The corpus callosum is supposed to be the part of the brain responsible for emotional and social functioning as well as higher cognitive processes such as decoding nonliteral meaning, affective prosody, and understanding humor.
When can we diagnose ASD?
Unfortunately, most parents diagnose their children after they are 2-3 years old, when they start behaving differently from other children their age. However, if you keep your eyes open for the signs of ASD, you can diagnose it as early as between 6-12 months of the child’s age. Watch out for signs:
- Is the child slow in learning to communicate?
- Does the child avoid eye contact?
- Does the child shun social contact and prefer to be alone?
In older kids, you’ll notice that apart from the above signs, they might be very sensitive to certain sounds or colors, they may not be able to read or speak, they might gaze at things for long periods of time or they might perform repetitive actions.
Share these signs with your doctor immediately to get a diagnosis.
What is the treatment?
Children with autism need to be taught everything differently. The longer you have waited to diagnose your child, the more he / she needs to cover up. Early intervention, before the child is 18 months old, makes your child ready to take on the world in a more confident way.
Treating children with ASD includes:
- Cognitive and language enhancement skills
- A specialized curriculum for studies
- Regular therapy
- Depending on the type of ASD, specialized skills training
This website aims to give you all the information you need about ASD. By sharing our experiences and stories, we can all give our children the best help they can get
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