Sounds are a part of our everyday life, and so when dealing with an autistic child who has sensory problems, sound is one of the first things you should learn to control, especially in a learning environment. Sound can both be hurtful and helpful for an autistic child. Because each autistic individual is different, you must closely observe him or her to find out what types of reactions you can expect from auditory sensory stimulation.
Loud or frightening sounds may be the most difficult type of sensory stimulation in an autistic child’s life. Many of our routine daily activities include such sounds, hurting the growth process. Autistic children can not and will not learn if they are frightened. For example, parents often find that they have a difficult time toilet training their autistic children. This may be due to the scary sound of the toilet flushing; witch could be overpowering to and autistic child. Instead, try using a potty seat away from the actual toilet until they get used to the idea. Another example is loud or crunchy foods. If your autistic child is a picky eater, try to notice specifically which foods he or she blatantly refuses to eat. Sometimes, food simply sounds too loud when crunching in an autistic child’s mouth, and these loud noises can hurt his or her ears. If this is the case with your child, provide alternative soft foods instead of crunchy carrots, apples, or potato chips. Other loud sounds, such as a vacuum cleaner, may hurt your child’s ears. Try to do these activities when he or she is not in the room, or consider providing your child with earplugs that he or she can use if the world gets too loud.
Sounds can also cause fixation. Some children, for example, constantly hum and seem fixated on the sights and sounds of lawn mowers. Use this fixation to be beneficial. For example, read stories about lawn mowers or use the humming in conjunction with a song. Music is a great way in which autistic individuals can learn, because sound is a form of nonverbal communication. Teachers and parents should use this tool in learning environments. The key is to make sound work for you and your child. Autism is a difficult disorder to handle, so by being sensitive to your child’s specific needs, you can help him or her
My Child is Autistic—and I don’t Know what to Do…
Discovering your child has autism may be a distressing ordeal, and unfortunately, time is of the essence. As a parent, you do not have the time to consider why or how this happened, only what to do next. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone in your struggle. By researching the disorder and finding others going through similar situations, you can help you child while still dealing with your own emotional response.
Join a support group for parents with autism. You can find these by contacting the national Autism Society of America. From there you can find local branches, many of which offer support groups for parents and families with an autistic child. Being in contact with other parents in a similar situation can not only help you feel less alone, but it can provide you with a myriad of resources. A parent support group will also help point you in the direction of the best doctors, intervention programs, and workshops for both your child and your family. Find a support group for any other children you have as well. Many parents forget that they are not the only ones who must learn to live and communicate with an autistic child. By locating a support group for your other children, you can help them from acting out or acting against the autistic child by teaching them about the illness. As a parent, you must create a supportive environment for the entire family in order to properly manage your child’s illness.
Consider marriage counseling if you are married. An autistic child can put serious strain on a marriage, leading to escalating arguments, neglect of each other, and even perhaps blaming each other for the situation. Marriage counseling from the very beginning can help a couple through this discovery and rough transition, and help build a better supportive environment for your children. Your marriage should not end as a result of having an autistic child, but the sad fact is that many of them do. Prevent this by using one another for support and by understanding that you may need help to deal with one another now and in the future.
Most importantly, start on the path to becoming an expert. Many times pediatricians or psychiatrists are not experts on autism, which can lead to improper diagnoses or incorrect treatment options. As your child’s best advocate, you must know everything you can about autism. Parents of Autistic Children can be a great resource; this organization offers training and workshops. The ASA has a newsletter and also offers a variety of information, from diagnosing to treating. As always, remember that a support group of parents with autistic children can always provide you with books and research that focus on the reality of the situation. Educate yourself and those around you to provide the most beneficial things for your child—love and guidance.