How to Help Your Autistic Child Thrive

Helping your child navigate the autism journey...
(Photo courtesy of Burst)

Most of us know someone with autism. According to the latest CDC data, 1 out of 59 children  are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) each year. Whether your child has a diagnosis or you suspect he might be on the spectrum, you undoubtedly want what’s best for him. Just like any other parent, you’ll want your child to feel loved and supported. You’ll advocate for his needs so he can grow up healthy and happy.

By helping your child navigate the autism journey, the two of you will form a deep bond that will last the rest of your life. Best of all, you’ll feel immeasurable pride as you watch your child learn and grow. Here are some ways you can help your child thrive with autism:

Reducing Anxiety

Every child is different and so are their symptoms. If your child is experiencing anxiety, a common autism symptom, talk to a medical professional. Certain medications, including antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, can sometimes help. Don’t be afraid to try holistic methods too, like chiropractic adjustments, craniosacral therapy, supplements, and dietary changes.

Some families are successfully treating anxiety and other autism symptoms with CBD, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that’s proving safe and effective for children on the spectrum. After CBD showed positive results treating childhood epilepsy, researchers began testing it on autism, too. In a recent study, 80 percent of autistic children who weren’t responding to conventional drug therapies experienced reduced symptoms while using CBD.

Before trying any new treatment, talk to your child’s therapist or pediatrician for advice. If you decide to use CBD, do your research to choose the right product for your child. Many children, especially those on the spectrum, can’t tolerate the taste or texture of CBD oil, so CBD gummies are a more kid-friendly option.

Sensory Considerations

It’s common for ASD children to have sensory hypersensitivities. Certain songs might upset your child, or he might become fixated by the way a particular object feels against the skin. Some autistic children are more or less sensitive than others. Try to find sounds, colors, textures, and even levels of indoor light that calm or soothe your child. Avoid bright colors and try to dim the lights, if needed, to create a safe space where your child won’t feel over-stimulated. As you learn the tactile sensations that your child enjoys, you can build a custom treatment plan. For example, some autistic parents have found that their children become overstimulated by too many activities in a day. If that sounds familiar, you can try reducing the number of activities, structuring your child’s day around mealtimes, and bringing your child’s favorite toys or snacks with you to any events. That way, your child feels more safety and stability.

Improving Social Skills

Autism means that your child will find his own unique ways to interact with the world around him. It’s okay if his playtime doesn’t look exactly like that of other children. It doesn’t mean there’s anything “wrong” with your child. It just means that you’ll need to try new things. Talk to other children about how to connect with your child. Ask other parents if you can arrive at birthday parties earlier so your child doesn’t feel overstimulated. Keep experimenting and never give up.

When parenting a child on the spectrum, it’s important to try various treatments until you uncover what works best. Some things might work wonders while others don’t work at all. Take time to pause and celebrate each achievement, no matter how small. Remember, there’s no specific way that your child “should” learn or interact with the world. People with autism have been accepted into Harvard, become successful lawyers and doctors, built happy marriages, and lived wonderful lives. Your child might have a diagnosis, but he’s not defined by that diagnosis. Even with its challenges, parenting a child on the autism spectrum can be a beautiful, rewarding experience.


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