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Category Archives: Advice for Parents of Autistic Children

Siblings of Children with Autism

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Children with autism experience social delays, trouble communicating and various other developmental delays that can cause a family to experience extra stress and hardship. This can be particularly hard for siblings who may not understand that their brother and sister has autism and that may cause them to act, communicate or express themselves differently.

Below is a list of items a child who has a sibling with autism may experience. While some of them may be unavoidable, it is important parents are aware of these challenges and work to make sure extra care is not only taken for a child with autism but their siblings as well.

Challenges Siblings May Experience

1.) Sibling Rivalry – it is natural to see rivalry’s develop between children in one household. Siblings may fight over toys, attention, or anything to feel like they are “first” or have “won.” This experience can particularly be heightened for a sibling for a child with autism who may be competing for their parents attention.

2.) Feeling Left Out – children with autism require extra care, time and attention from parents. This can leave other siblings feeling left out or not important. Parents should take extra care to make sure other siblings feel loved and cared for. This could take the form of picking an activity to do together each week or going on a special outing with each sibling every month.

3.) Extra Responsibility – siblings may feel like they have to pick up extra work around the house that their parents do not have time for due to the extra work of caring for a child with autism. While there is nothing wrong with siblings pitching in to help the entire family unit, be sure children aren’t taking on too much extra responsibility (or responsibilities that are inappropriate for their age).

4.) Feeling of Rejection – children may want to have a close relationship with their brother or sister with autism that may not be possible. Children with autism often struggle with touch (like hugging) or with social skills (like being able to express joy, sadness, etc…) which can make it challenging to develop a sibling bond or relationship. Be sure to educate fellow siblings that children with autism do not express needs, wants or emotions in the same way as them and that these things may take different forms depending on the child.

The Importance of Parental Involvement

At Lighthouse Autism Center, we believe in a team approach to helping your child reach their fullest potential. While every member of the team (parents, caregivers, therapists, educators, doctors, advocates) play a part in your child’s success, a parents role is arguable the most important.

Support Starts from the Beginning

While the causes of autism are still unknown, it is important to start looking for the signs of autism early. Studies have shown that catching the signs of autism early in a child’s life can lead to better outcomes. Some of these early signs include missing various developmental milestones, no babbling, no eye contact, no response to name, lack of expression (happy, smiling). If you suspect that your child may be exhibiting the signs of autism, it is important you contact your healthcare provider to determine if your child has autism.

Support Through Therapy 

Once a child receives an autism diagnosis, it is crucial that parents and caregivers seek appropriate therapy services for their child, which may include, ABA therapy, Speech therapy, Occupational therapy, or a combination of these and other therapies.

Specifically, ABA therapy is the only therapy recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General for the treatment of autism. With individualized treatment plans designed by Board Certified Behavior Analysts and the work of a trained Registered Behavior Technician, we sees children achieve great outcomes through this type of therapy.

Therapy At Home

It is equally important that parents work to implement the same skills their child is working on in therapy at home. For example, if a child works on using utensils as part of a therapy program, but parents do not work with the child to use utensils at home, that child may learn they only have to use utensils when they go to therapy, but not at home. Consistency and follow through are key to a child’s success and that requires the commitment and work of parents and caregivers to follow through at home.

Lighthouse Autism Center

For parents and children at Lighthouse Autism Center, our Board Certified Behavior Analysts provide parent training’s and will often go into a child’s home to assist parents. We want to make sure that parents have the tools and knowledge to follow through at home and help their child achieve their highest potential.

 

To learn more about Lighthouse Autism Center, call 574-387-4313.

Eating Out with a Child that Has Autism

Something as simple as eating out with your child with autism can often be a stressful and anxiety inducing time for a family and child. Children can become easily over stimulated in the loud and sometimes busy and chaotic environment. Below, we have outlined what we hope will be some helpful and useful tips for taking your child with autism out to eat.

7 Tips for Eating Out with Your Child with Autism

  1. If possible, go at a quiet time of day. Think early dinners around 4:00 or 5:00 pm if your families schedule allows it. Consider a late afternoon lunch if you are going out on the weekends. Early dinners and late lunches tend to be less busy for restaurants and will provide a quieter and less stimulating environment for your child.
  2. Ask to not be seated next to the kitchen, bathrooms or main entrance to help minimize the number of people that are walking by your table. Additionally, if there are any large parties ask to be seated away from them.
  3. Sit in the corner; this will make it so that there are only two walls that are open to sound.
  4. If possible, ask for a booth instead of a table, this will help provide a more contained environment for your child.
  5. Ask your server to give you a heads up if there will be any singing for a birthday at a table close by so that you can take your child outside for a few moments while they sing.
  6. Should your child get overstimulated take your child outside and let him/her walk around for a few moments or go sit in the car so that they can calm down.
  7. Try to keep your child occupied while at dinner. This can mean coloring, playing with an iPad, bringing a favorite toy – whatever your child enjoys!

 

My Child & Autism: Finding Community

When facing the challenges of parenting a child with autism, it’s important for caregivers to understand they are not alone. With 1 in 61 children diagnosed with autism, there are many parents and caregivers going through the same struggles. At Lighthouse, we understand the importance of these caregivers finding a supportive community with others who are experiencing the same daily tasks, challenges and joys that they are.

LAC encourages families to get to know each other, as no one better understands what you are going through than other families going through the same thing. Parents dropping off and picking up their children often get to know each other, and can get together for play dates, coffee, or even just for a quick conversation before picking their kids up from the center. We pride ourselves on creating an atmosphere where families can support each other and their children.

Looking for support for your child with autism? Contact LAC today!