Did you know April is Autism Awareness Month? Do you know what autism means? Do you know how to detect and care for an autistic loved one? In this article we will answer these questions and many more!
Happy Autism Awareness Month!
What is Autism?
Autism is a brain development defect that causes difficulty with communication skills; autistic individuals find it difficult to socialize or communicate as their brains are not developed to understand the various signs of socializing.
When Does Autism Manifest
Autism signs usually manifest pretty early in childhood; typically visible in children between the ages of 12 to 24 months of age. Early detection is essential to early treatment as these factors will greatly determine how socially developed your child will become. Thus, it is important to know how to spot the early signs of autism in your loved one.
Symptoms of Autism
The symptoms usually range from mild complications to severe complications. Parents, daycare workers, and other family members should be aware of and look out for some of these signs in children:
● Failure to communicate or respond to social stimulation: There are various things children do to communicate either with their caregivers or peers. Failure to do such things as blabbering, smiling and laughing at people, attracting attention to themselves or objects by the means of gestures, responding to their names, imitating people close to them, and not showing any kind of social stimulation might indicate an onset of autism.
● Failure and difficulty grasping objects: Delays in motor skills, such as holding objects to mimic that of adults, is another symptom. Parents/guardians should consult the child’s pediatrician after repeated attempts to help the child with this skill to no avail.
● Extremely delayed physical development: Development delays in children is the most common symptom recognized in autistic children. Typically, children diagnosed with autism experience delays, as early as 3 months of age, ranging from head control to stability to walk. If a child is unable to follow up on the appropriate development at the appropriate time, this might be an indication of autism.
How to Care for a Loved One with Autism
Although caring for a loved one with autism can be very disheartening and require a lot of work to ensure they have the best opportunity in life, there are many resources available and other means of support to assist in their care.
● Be Informed: It is important to learn about autism before providing home care for a child with autism. Read information from credible sources and don’t be afraid to ask the pediatrician lots of questions. Learning about the illness puts the child in safe hands. Understanding how autism impacts the child and learning how it impacts them will ease the caregiving experience.
● Be Consistent: Following through with recommended therapy and activities prescribes from healthcare providers in the home setting makes a difference in their progress.
● Find Support Groups & Local Resources: Allowing others to help care for your loved one can also be very important and minimize being overwhelmed by stress from time to time. There are many programs and services available for children with disabilities that can provide additional support.
It is also very important that the caregivers get help for themselves. You can join a group of other parents/guardians with autistic children or consider therapy to combat depression caused by ongoing care of someone with a disability. This will provide the emotional support needed to give adequate care.
● Do Not Give Up: The best way you could possibly provide proper support and care for children with autism is by not giving up. Though autism cannot be cured, adequate, early, and appropriate treatment can help reduce the symptoms of autism.
Love, patience, understanding, and going at their pace are key ways to care for autistic children and adults. Take it one day at a time and develop realistic goals and expectations.
If you need assistance caring for your loved one or help identifying resources, feel free to reach out to us! We are happy to assist in any way possible.