Caring for a Child With Autism

April 23, 2020
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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When you first meet your child, you can’t help but think that there is nothing more perfect in the world. You instantly fall in love, and you’ll do everything in your power to protect your baby. This concept only grows as they get older and begin learning the skills they need to develop. But sometimes, the development doesn’t occur as it should. Your child’s behavior seems limited, and testing by your pediatrician determines that your perfect child has an autism spectrum disorder. What happens next? And, how can you care for your child living with autism?

What is autism spectrum disorder?

Autism is a condition that affects brain development — causing a person to perceive and socialize differently than others. While the exact cause of autism is unknown, the disorder can begin during early childhood. As young as within the first year, some children start showing symptoms — with regression occurring between 18 and 24 months.

Autism Symptoms

Symptoms often occur during infancy, but even delayed signs are typically present by the time your child is two. Each child on the autism spectrum may have a unique pattern of behavior — from low to high-functioning. The most common signs that your child may have autism include:

  • Difficulty learning
  • Trouble communicating — including delayed speech, repeated words, inability to express emotions or feelings, and more
  • Issues adjusting to social situations
  • Sensitive to light, touch, or sounds
  • Fixates on an object or activity with abnormal intensity
  • Develops specific routines
  • Performs repetitive movements
  • Other strange patterns of behavior

5 Tips for Caring for a Child with Autism

1. Educate Yourself & Join a Support Group

Two of the most important pieces to successfully care for your child are learning about autism and getting support. This support can come from your child’s caregivers, family members, and the local community. Search online or ask your child’s doctor for a list of parental support groups for children with autism. You can learn helpful tips from parents with more experience and learn how to overcome new obstacles — from tricks on getting picky eaters to eat to tips on starting school. Learn as much as you can to arm yourself with the resources you need to care for your child.

2. Introduce Your Child to the Community

Getting your child out and about can be a chore — especially if they struggle with behavior issues such as biting — but it can be crucial to their happiness and development. Introducing your child to leisure activities outdoors can improve their mood and introduce new or different things for them to try. The more you expose them to the outdoors when they’re younger, the easier they’ll acclimate in the future.

3. Learn How to Communicate With Your Child

It’s important to understand that while your child struggles to develop like other children, they still require the same basic levels of understanding, love, and acceptance. Your child communicates and socializes differently than you may expect, so the key to helping them thrive is to learn how to understand their language. Recognize the signs that make them tick and discover what makes them happy. From low- to high-functioning, your child may surprise you with what they can do given the right tools.

4. Take Time for Yourself

From the moment your child is born, your life tends to revolve around them — this feeling is heightened when your child develops a disorder such as autism. It’s important that in between caring for your child, you find time to care for yourself. Hire a babysitter for the evening — whether it’s a family member whom you trust or someone familiar with your child — and have a date night or enjoy a spa day. Even a quiet afternoon on the beach can be enough to reset your mind and give you the strength you need to provide for your child.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Assistance

Caring for a child with autism can be time-consuming and tough — especially if you have other children in the home. From family members to teachers and school administrators, you need a support system that you trust to provide assistance and relief. Family members aren’t always around, and school isn’t always in session. Home caregivers can provide 24/7 support. Home health care providers are available around the clock to help dress, feed, and bathe your child. They can also administer medications and give you the much-needed time to spend with your other children or to give yourself a break.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child who has autism. That’s why our team of skilled professionals at Care Options for Kids are here to help.

Our home care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent caregivers to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.