Children Living With Autism – Raising a Child With Autism

Children Living With Autism – Raising a Child With Autism

raising a child with autism

Raising a child with autism is real work. And I would know because I’ve done it – and still doing it. If you are reading this, then the chances are that you have a child living with autism too. 

Do I understand exactly how you feel? Not entirely.

What I can do, however, is share my experiences with you. Hopefully, you find this article helpful to create your own strategies to help your child.

Kyle was 2 when he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). And as would any parent, I was emotionally confused. I love my son, but I felt so worried for his future. I wondered if I knew enough or would be enough for his needs.

How would he cope in the world? Sadly, I feared he wouldn’t get to experience life as other children do. As though it couldn’t get any worse, I would also have to deal with the persistent and sometimes embarrassing questions from my family and friends. I didn’t know what I would do or how I would handle all that.

Is he gifted like some other children living with ASD? Does he sleep? What does he like eating? Is he good at mathematics?

Then, as he got older, the unusual public behavior started: running off, scratching his face, rocking back and forth, loudly repeating things he heard on TV. Most days, I felt more angry than depressed. And that is not unusual given I felt like I have embarrassed my family or even my son. I ask myself, am I doing anything right?

If I could cry, I would. You see, I’m the mom, and I have to be strong for the family. The truth is that raising a child with autism will get you frustrated. At times, it can be confusing and make you feel guilty.

So how did I manage the whole thing? Was it challenging?

Yes, it was. However, looking back, the steps we took were the most beautiful things we could have done.

How Can You Help a Child Living with Autism as a Parent?

  1. Learn more about autism

After the discovery, I took to studying. Of course, I knew autism as some level of a disability before Kyle was diagnosed but I was desperate to learn more. Perhaps you’re wondering why I did that. But think about it, isn’t it better to be well equipped on how to manage the autism symptoms?

You see, raising a child with autism is harder than I’d anticipated. Firstly, I had to go through 16-week behavior intervention training.

Luckily, I learned the strategies on how to help Kyle with his challenging behaviors. Some of these strategies are:

  • We devised alternative communication methods. We taught him how to point to what he needs rather than crying or screaming.
  • We had 20-30 minutes of planned communication and play every day. And it usually involved much social imitation, and it was amusing to both Kyle and us.

At the end of it, Kyle became less anxious around us. Also, he now copes much better with daily tasks. You would love to see him when he builds things with Legos – really exciting!

2. Glean from other’s experiences

Other than the knowledge we gained from the various training we attended. We also joined social support groups too.

Talking about autism with folks who have a bit of experience is excellent. It makes us calm. Besides, we get to see what more we could do for our Kyle.

3. Talking to your child about autism

We made a personal decision to talk to Kyle about his condition. We waited until we thought he could understand why his behaviors seem different to other people. So we told him when he was about 10. He cried, which was emotional. You have to forgive me; I cried too.

From all the outbursts of emotions, we achieved a significant feat. We were able to assist Kyle to understand that he does not have to be upset about who he is, but rather he just needs extra support. Besides, he’s not the only one.

4. Managing challenging behaviors in public

On challenging behaviors, we did our best to teach Kyle the dos and don’ts. Not just that, we showed him what a better reaction looks like. And we did that with videos and what we learned about social imitation. We didn’t stop there; signs and examples are posted around his room and around the house.

So what do you think? Were the strategies helpful? An extra tip, we took baby steps, and it was necessary. Planning too far ahead might not be best.

In the end, calmness and unconditional love are what any child needs. 


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NEXT STEPS…

Share your story with the community. Click here to contact us about doing a SETH TALK.

Interested in becoming a guest writer for Seth’s Mom. Click here to contact us.


External Resources

Support program: Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

Maryland Early Intervention and Special Education Services

Administration for Community Living

Pathfinders for Autism

Disability Scoop

Maryland Preschool Special Education

Maryland Department of Education Division of Early Childhood

Can coronavirus cause autism in my unborn baby? I’m pregnant and worried.

Can coronavirus cause autism in my unborn baby? I’m pregnant and worried.

Can coronavirus cause autism? In, short… maybe? There is no direct causal relationship between anything and autism. There’s no exact gene. There’s no exact chemical. There’s no exact environmental cause of autism. Well, at least not one all the experts can agree on. Everything we know is inconclusive, so basically we’re not sure. This may fill you with any number of emotions from fear to relief, and that is not only normal it is to be expected. You are a mom or dad (attentive dads are pregnant along with us moms, don’t @ me) and you want to make sure your baby is healthy.

Can coronavirus cause autism?

Can coronavirus cause autism?

Is There a Virus that Causes Autism

Rather than asking if coronavirus cause autism in unborn babies, try posing the question as if there is a direct relationship between any virus and the presence of ASD, try to look at it from a different perspective. Try to look at it from the perspective of maternal health. Any virus may be a virus that causes autism. To gain better perspective, we have gathered some information from Psychology Today for the Seth’s Mom family

Like everyone else, I’m struggling to evaluate the potential impact of the corona virus outbreak. As I write, precautionary measures are being taken across the globe, with different approaches being adopted by different governments, reflecting the different perceptions of risk and of the extent of the pandemic. Scientific and medical advisors, doing their best to anticipate to where this pandemic will go, are advising governments, desperately hoping to make the right choices for their people.

One problem they all face is in assessing the risk to different groups within society.  The elderly are particularly vulnerable, particularly those with pre-existing medical conditions.  The young seem to be less effected, a relief for many parents.  But what about the unborn?  What precautions should pregnant women by taking?

Guidance has emerged on both sides of the Atlantic for women in pregnancy[1].  The message is that there is no evidence that babies in the womb are at risk.  Indeed, evidence suggests that corona-type viruses don’t cross the placenta, and case studies have led the UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to conclude that, ‘Expert opinion is that the fetus is unlikely to be exposed during pregnancy’. This is reassuring, and the expert advice is that women in pregnancy should adopt approximately the same measures to avoid exposure as the rest of the population, and take similar steps for self-isolation should they suspect that they have become infected.

Neuroscientists working on neurodevelopmental disorders, however, might spot that one issue has been overlooked. There is good evidence that severe exposure to viral infection during the first trimester is associated with an increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders[2].  Perhaps the clearest evidence relates to autism, where in one robust study, the risk of a child being subsequent diagnosed with autism increased almost three-fold following exposure to a severe viral infection during the first trimester[3]. To be clear, these were not simply mild cases of the sniffles: the infection had to be serious enough to warrant hospitalisation.  To be clear also: the risk to the child remained low.  The population incidence of autism is roughly 1%, so even if tripled, the overwhelming majority of pregnancies deliver neurotypical children.

But could the same be true for Covid19, if it doesn’t infect the fetus? Well actually it could because the fetus doesn’t need to be exposed to the virus directly.  Experimental evidence suggests that the problem isn’t the virus itself, rather it results from the mother’s response[4]. Infection causes the mother’s immune system to produce cytokines – signalling molecules the activate the body’s defences and contribute to the development of the fever. While the virus itself may not cross the placenta, the cytokines do, and they impact the development of the fetus. It is this cytokine storm that seems to raise the risk of developmental disorder in the baby.

CLICK HERE to read the full article.


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NEXT STEPS…

Share your story with the community. Click here to contact us about doing a SETH TALK.

Interested in becoming a guest writer for Seth’s Mom. Click here to contact us.


External Resources

Genetics Home Reference – NIH

Support program: Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

Maryland Early Intervention and Special Education Services

Administration for Community Living

Pathfinders for Autism

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Having Another Child After Having One With Autism, a Dad’s Perspective

parenting strategies for autism

Parenting Strategies for Autism Can Be… Well… a Lot, Right?

There are so many techniques and supports to remember when raising a child on the spectrum. Parenting strategies for autism are not only dependent on how receptive your child is generally, but also how well that strategy will work in a given situation. We parents have to keep our head on a swivel. Be nimble. Be flexible. Now, imagine having to apply those strategies to another child. What about two more? 

After my experience with Kyle, my first child living with autism, the thought of having another child with autism scared me. Yet, my wife and I would love to have another child.

But, Why am I Scared? How Likely is it That a Parent Could Have Another Child with Autism?

As I’ve learned, the answer to that depends on several factors. The first factor to consider is the results of genetic testing. Genetic testing can give an idea of how predisposed parents are to having multiple children with ASD, but for now there is no causal relationship between an exact gene and the presence, or prevalence, of ASD in a family. Current genetic testing can only predict ASD for about 15% of the children living with ASD.

But, what I have also learned is that studies have show that couples with one autistic child have a 10-20% greater risk of having a second child with autism.

Also, if the child is a boy, he is even more likely to have ASD (2-3times). And that’s not all; do you know second-born children with ASD are generally severely affected than the first? That’s scary.

Why Is It Scary?

Firstly, my wife and I are worried about how we would manage. As much as we love our son, it takes a lot of time and effort to properly care and support him. How do we manage the needs of another autistic child? Would our resources (energy and finances) even be enough for the two of them?

Secondly, there is a feeling of guilt too. To say this may make you bristle (heck, it makes me bristle too). Why bring another child to this world knowing well beforehand that she/he might struggle socially, physically, and psychologically? We love our children regardless, but we have to be honest here about what us parents go through, think about, and worry about.

Thirdly, children are not the same. They have varied needs and complexes. And what does that imply? We have to devise new parenting strategies for autism for the new child too.

This is all… a lot.

With All These Doubts, is it Advisable to Still Go Ahead? Should Parents Feel Scared That Their Second Child May Have Autism?

There is good news. Doctors say having a child with autism is more like a genetic lottery. And when you look at it, the chance of having a neuro-typical child is 80-90%. So do we really need to worry?

My wife and I say, no. We will expand our family and love our children. It may mean more work. Heck, it will be more work whether our 2nd child has autism or is neuro-typical. We’ll make it work and, if necessary, learn new parenting strategies for autism.

In the end, the decision is yours.


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NEXT STEPS…

Share your story with the community. Click here to contact us about doing a SETH TALK.

Interested in becoming a guest writer for Seth’s Mom. Click here to contact us.


External Resources

Mayo Clinic

Genetics Home Reference – NIH

Support program: Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

Maryland Early Intervention and Special Education Services

Administration for Community Living

Pathfinders for Autism

Disability Scoop

Maryland Preschool Special Education

Maryland Department of Education Division of Early Childhood

 

Demystifying developmental disabilities: What is cerebral palsy?

Demystifying developmental disabilities: What is cerebral palsy?

DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES EXPLAINED, WHAT IS CEREBRAL PALSY

A developmental disability (DD) is any number of congenital (from birth) physical, learning, language, and behavior conditions. DD impairs daily functioning such as speaking, walking, and motor coordination. Although the symptom severity can improve overtime, these conditions last the person’s lifetime. Because DD occurs before and during the developmental period, symptoms may go unnoticed until delays meeting developmental milestones are noticed. Keep in mind, that everyone develops at a different pace, but developmental milestones provide a general indicator of what skills children “should” have by certain age. For example, typically by 6 months a baby should be able to roll in both directions, respond to their own name, and place things in their mouth.

The CDC offers a pretty good list of milestones. CLICK HERE to take a look, after you read the rest of this article 😉

Cerebral palsy explained

Cerebral (brain) palsy (paralysis and/or involuntary tremors), or CP, is a neurological developmental disability that impacts coordination and how the body moves. Symptoms can include

  • lack of muscle coordination when performing voluntary movements (ataxia);
  • stiff or tight muscles and exaggerated reflexes (spasticity);
  • weakness in one or more arm or leg;
  • walking on the toes, a crouched gait, or a “scissored” gait;
  • variations in muscle tone, either too stiff or too floppy;
  • excessive drooling or difficulties swallowing or speaking;
  • shaking (tremor) or random involuntary movements;
  • delays in reaching motor skill milestones; and
  • difficulty with precise movements such as writing or buttoning a shirt (National Institute of Neurological Disorders, 2019.)

CLICK HERE to learn more about CP. You will also find a very handy glossary to help you with some of the more complex terminology.


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NEXT STEPS…

Share your story with the community. Click here to contact us about doing a SETH TALK.

Interested in becoming a guest writer for Seth’s Mom. Click here to contact us.

 


External Resources

United Cerebral Palsy Foundation

Mayo Clinic

Genetics Home Reference – NIH

Support program: Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

Maryland Early Intervention and Special Education Services

Administration for Community Living

Pathfinders for Autism

Disability Scoop

Maryland Preschool Special Education

Maryland Department of Education Division of Early Childhood

What are the symptoms of autism in a 3-year-old?

What are the symptoms of autism in a 3-year-old?

by Jayne Leonard Medical News Today

What are the symptoms of autism in a 3-year-old?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects approximately 1 in 59 children. ASD covers a range of conditions that doctors used to believe were different, including autism and Asperger’s syndrome.

Behavioral symptoms often develop in early childhood, with research suggesting that parents and caregivers tend to notice some of these behaviors before a child’s first birthday.

Despite this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that most autistic children do not receive a diagnosis until after 4 years of age.

In this article, we discuss the possible signs and symptoms of autism in 3-year old children.

What is autism?

Autism is one of the more common neurodevelopmental disorders. It is characterized by challenges with social interaction, communication, and flexibility in thinking and behavior.

Autistic people may have difficulty relating to those around them, developing friendships, and understanding other people’s feelings. They may also have repetitive thoughts and perform repetitive behaviors.

Autistic people often have higher rates of co-occurring, or comorbid, conditions than the general population. Some of these conditions include:

  • seizures
  • digestive disorders
  • psychiatric issues, such as anxiety or depression

According to some research, 70% of autistic children have one co-occurring condition, while 41% have two or more, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder, or social anxiety.

There is no “cure” for autism, and many autistic people feel that ASD is an integral part of their identity. Doctors and therapists can help people manage their symptoms and maintain a happy, healthy life.

Some signs of autism in a 3-year-old might include:

Social detachment

Autistic children may not play with others. They may:

  • play alone
  • have no interest in socializing
  • avoid sharing toys
  • not understand turn-taking play
  • not respond to their name
  • not understand make-believe or “pretend” play

Differences in emotional expression

Autistic people experience a full range of emotions, but they typically read and express them differently from others.

An autistic 3-year old may:

  • have difficulty discussing or expressing their feelings
  • have trouble understanding the feelings of others
  • struggle to be soothed or comforted
  • make facial expressions that may not match internal feelings
  • avoid physical contact with others
  • become rigid when hugged
  • show no emotion when a parent leaves the room

Communication difficulties

Autism is characterized by difficulty communicating. At 3 years of age, an autistic child may:

  • demonstrate delays or regression in speech and language skills
  • speak in a flat or sing-song manner
  • not speak at all
  • avoid eye contact
  • appear expressionless
  • not answer questions appropriately
  • repeat the words of others
  • use words, phrases, or sounds repeatedly, which doctors call echolalia
  • use the wrong pronouns, for example, “you” instead of “I”
  • not use gestures, such as pointing or waving
  • not respond to pointing
  • not understand age-appropriate humor

Behaviors

Autistic children often display seemingly unusual or repetitive behaviors. They may:

  • flap their hands repeatedly
  • spin around
  • rock back and forth
  • appear fascinated with a particular toy or activity
  • have obsessive behaviors
  • line up toys in an ordered fashion
  • be hyperactive in certain situations
  • have a short attention span
  • insist on specific routines or rituals
  • display agitation, anger, or frustration when someone disturbs their routine or ritual

Other signs

Additional potential signs of autism in children include:

  • aggression
  • impulsivity
  • self-injuring
  • intense reactions to sounds, smells, textures, colors, or tastes
  • temper tantrums
  • unusual eating habits

Not all autistic children show all these signs, and many neurotypical children occasionally demonstrate some of them. For this reason, a professional diagnosis is essential.

CLICK HERE for more information.


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NEXT STEPS…

Share your story with the community. Click here to contact us about doing a SETH TALK.

Interested in becoming a guest writer for Seth’s Mom. Click here to contact us.

 


External Resources

Mayo Clinic

Genetics Home Reference – NIH

Support program: Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

Maryland Early Intervention and Special Education Services

Administration for Community Living

Pathfinders for Autism

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Haircut Tips for Autistic Children

Haircut Tips for Autistic Children

Haircut Tips for Autistic Children

As many of us know taking our children for a hair cut can be difficult. Between the fidgeting and the normal short patience of many young children it can take some planning and sometimes some bribing (lol) to make it through a session. Take a look at this touching article about how to help sensitive autistic children, and their parents, cope with the stress of getting a hair cut.

by FINDINGCOOPERSVOICE

I can think of a lot of struggles that Cooper and I have had over the years. He is autistic and nonverbal. That alone is hard. But to this day, one of his biggest struggles was and is getting a haircut. When Cooper was two we visited a local Cost Cutters for his first trim. We put it off forever because we knew it was going to be awful. Cooper hated to sit and be touched by strangers. So, we went very early in the morning and hoped for the best. The experience was awful. So awful in fact that a patron of the store alerted a manager of a child screaming. After the stylist started crying I said never again.

That was his first and last hair cut at a public place. We let his hair grow long and tried to recover from the trauma of the hair cut. I still laugh at all of the people that gave us a hard time about letting our boy have long hair. I always wonder why people care so much.

When he was three it was time for another hair cut. I started watching videos on YouTube on how to cut kid’s hair with a clippers. I thought, I could do that! I purchased clippers from Walmart. It was cheap and easy to use.

I have been cutting Cooper’s hair for close to four years now

I can cut his hair from start to finish in just under five minutes. I buzz as much as I can with the 1/2 inch attachment (the orange one) and then finish with a scissors. I’ve learned over the years that it’s not the sound or vibration that bothers him…it’s more the hair on his neck and having to sit still. I offer a cape or towel for his neck before every cut but he refuses to wear one. So, we power through as fast as we can.

As Cooper is getting older and I’m getting more experienced, the cuts get better each time. We start preparing him about a week in advance about the cut. The day of we talk about it more frequently. Eventually, he will grab the clippers himself and bring them to me. I think he gets tired of me talking about it!

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

 


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External Resources

Support program: Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

Maryland Early Intervention and Special Education Services

Administration for Community Living

Pathfinders for Autism

Disability Scoop