Being a parent is scary, especially when you know about all of the possible conditions that could affect your child at some point. Autism is one of those conditions that can show up when your child is young and affect many different aspects of their life. Although it’s your child who has autism, it affects you and your family as well.
At Carolina Wellness Psychiatry, our team can help you and your family figure out the best way to help your child with autism. Our team consists of three expert psychiatrists who get your child the help they need to succeed. Dr. Allison Foroobar is our autism spectrum disorder expert, and she helps parents with coping strategies too.
What is autism?
Autism, which is also known as autism spectrum disorder, is a lifelong developmental condition that’s usually diagnosed in early childhood. The characteristics of this disorder are difficulty with social interaction, behavior, and communication. The challenges with communication are both verbal and non-verbal, and can make early childhood very difficult.
The severity of this disorder varies from child to child, and not every child experiences the same types of challenges. The first signs of autism usually present around the age of three; however, some children don’t show signs until later on in toddlerhood.
Early on in this disorder, your child may have difficulty learning words or speaking. They may also struggle socially at daycare, or even with their own family. In addition, you may notice certain repetitive behaviors they rely on.
Of course, many of these symptoms could be attributed to other problems or disorders as well. That’s why it’s so important as a parent to recognize the signs specific to autism, so you get your child the help they need early on.
Learning the signs
Like many other disorders in the medical world, the signs and symptoms of autism are very similar to the signs of other childhood disorders. However, if your child exhibits several of the following signs, it’s a good idea for you to bring them into our facility to have them evaluated by our physicians:
- Avoids eye contact
- Doesn’t respond to their name
- Little to no interest in toys or objects
- Tends to want to be alone
- Small changes make them upset
- Persistent rocking or spinning around
- Trouble expressing feelings
- Difficulty with changes in routine
Another red flag is when your child has intense tantrums or reactions to certain sensations like smells or sounds. The signs above are very broad, but can be seen in your child as early as one year old.
If you suspect your child may be showing signs of autism, they should be evaluated by our physicians. Although there isn’t a specific test for the disorder, our doctors reach a diagnosis by watching the way they interact with others and comparing that to other children the same age.
Tips for supporting your child
A diagnosis of autism isn’t only difficult on your child, but on you and your family as well. With millions of questions and uncertainties running through your mind, how do you know how to best support your child?
There are actually a lot of things you can do to help make your child’s life a little easier. First, learn all that you can about autism. Knowledge of the disorder gives you the tools to help your child succeed. Here are a few key tips:
Create a safe zone at home
This is a space that your child can use to feel safe and secure. You can use visual aids to help them understand that this area is theirs.
Consistency is key
Staying consistent between home, therapy, and school is very important to an autistic child’s success. This also helps them transfer the things they’ve learned into environments other than school or therapy.
Keep a schedule
A schedule really helps your child with some of the challenges that go along with autism. Consistent bedtimes, meal times, and school time are key to supporting your child.
Learn their nonverbal cues
Many children with autism use different types of gestures or cues to express what they want, because of their difficulty with communication. Learning your child’s specific gestures helps you create a communication bond with them.
Have some fun
Coping with the challenges of autism is difficult on both your child and you. Make time away from therapy or school to let your child have some well-deserved play time. This helps them just unwind and enjoy being a kid for a bit.
For more information on autism spectrum disorder, call Carolina Wellness Psychiatry at 919-446-3232 to set up a consultation, or request an appointment using our online booking tool.