The Oxford English Dictionary defines autism as "a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterised by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts."
Autism is a condition that needs to be handled with maturity and care. In India, autism awareness is growing. From labelling such kids as mentally retarded, the society is slowly opening itself to include them in mainstream activities.
Once parents accept that their offspring is autistic, half the battle is won.
But a lot remains to be done. Parents and teachers play a very important role in this. The first thing is acceptance. Once parents accept that their offspring is autistic, half the battle is won. I know it's very difficult for parents to accept that their kid is different. But from acceptance springs inclusion. Once the mind finds itself in sync with the situation, finding the way out is easier. Parental guidance and teacher monitoring of autistic kids helps them develop a variety of skills to handle life in a better fashion. Enjoy your child; he loves you unconditionally.
The spectrum of autism disorder cannot be defined in the initial stages. Let your child enjoy his childhood. He has a lifetime to manage things for himself. Let him discover himself as you too discover him. Ignite the greatness in your kid.
The spectrum of autism disorder cannot be defined in the initial stages. Let your child enjoy his childhood.
I have listed here some simple techniques which I know help ensure the development of autistic kids in a holistic manner:
1. Prepare a background to what is happening in the classroom: Coordinate with the teachers at school. Find out what is planned for the week ahead. Prepare a base for that at home. Get him to read the textbooks or discuss the stories in literature. Do the science experiments at home. I have noticed that classroom interaction becomes easier as there is previous knowledge working at the subconscious level.
2. Nudge and prompt: Nudge and prompt them during the learning process. This makes it easier for the kids. They know that they have a helper in you. Your prompting motivates them to do better.
3. Supervise: Studies have shown that autistic kids under supervision work better than those left unsupervised. When there is no supervision, autistic kids feel the lack of positive reinforcement and thus are not motivated to move ahead in their tasks. It is my strong belief here that subconsciously the child knows that they have an anchor in the adult around them.
Autistic kids work best with strict schedules. Avoid surprises.
4. Schedule: Prepare schedules for them. Autistic kids work best with strict schedules. Discuss any change in the schedule with them. Avoid surprises. If possible depict the schedules as picture timetables. Work out on coded images for various tasks. Draw up a picture timetable. Autistic kids relate to images more than the written word.
5. Encourage peer tutoring and cooperative learning: When they mix with peers, they learn faster and better. Talk to the parents of other kids in their class. Get their friends home. Let them work in peer study groups. This is a symbiotic relationship. And it's my personal faith that both groups of kids benefit.
6. Create safe zones: Colour code your homes. Demarcate danger zones with RED. They will get the point.
7. Look out for non-verbal clues: The autistic child is like a painting. He doesn't speak through his words. You need to interpret him, not just understand him. Look for patterns in his behaviour; watch out for the non-verbal clues.
Don't stress yourself and the kid with therapy. There is life beyond therapy.
8. Have fun: Don't stress yourself and the kid with therapy. There is life beyond therapy. Enjoy his childhood like you would any child's. Create opportunities for him to smile, laugh and holler. Hit the play ground, run amok on the beach, roller-coaster through rides at the amusement park. Instinctively autistic kids know which activities are therapy and which are sheer fun. They enjoy fun. Encourage them. The positivity that play generates will traverse other realms of life. My personal belief towards work stems from the fact that work is not work when it becomes play.
9. Keep track of their sensitive senses: Most autistic kids are sensitive to touch, smell, taste and sound. Notice which of these has a calming effect on him and which triggers negativity. Track them and avoid the ones that disturb him. A little care will enable to create better experiences. And this I am sure will enable us, parents and teachers to become more sensitive and nobler souls.
The more autistic kids interact in a regular school, the more opportunities do they get to bloom.
10. Join support groups: There are lot of support groups online and offline. Join them. They really help to keep you motivated and kicking.
11. Choose the right school: This is going to be your most important decision. Ensure the school follows an inclusion policy. The more autistic kids interact in a regular school, the more opportunities do they get to bloom. Schools with strong inclusion policies will ensure that there is constant interaction between you and the teacher. Parents opting for an inclusive school come with a higher level of awareness and willingness to accept.