April is Autism Awareness Month! Raising a child with autism can be very challenging at times, and very rewarding at others. If you have a child with autism or know someone with autism, there are a few things you can do to be a supportive friend or family member and accommodate their needs.
Learn About Autism
One of the first and best things you can do when you learn that your family member or friend has been diagnosed with autism is to learn as much as you can about it. Being informed about what autism is, how it affects individuals who live with it, and what you can do to make spaces safer and more inviting to them is a great way to be supportive. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a great resource that is run entirely by people who are actually living with autism.
Realize that All Kids with Autism are Different
Autism doesn’t have a laundry list of symptoms that every person with autism has. Autism is a spectrum disorder, so some kids with autism may exhibit different symptoms to different degrees. Find out exactly how autism affects your friend or family member. They may have very specific triggers and coping mechanisms. Learning about your friend or family member’s unique symptoms can help you to make the correct accommodations for them.
Don’t Give Up
You aren’t the same person now as you were ten years ago, right? You may feel discouraged with your friend or family member’s progress at times, but it’s important to remember that people grow and change. Kids with autism have a whole lifetime to develop their skills. Sometimes a coping method that used to work doesn’t work anymore. Or perhaps a bad habit is proving to be difficult to break. You may need to change the way you do things or test different methods until you find one that works. Don’t be discouraged! Being consistent and supportive is the best way to help your loved one develop those all-important life skills.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (202) 561-1110 (Washington, D.C. office) or (301) 577-4333 (Lanham office). Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.