Advertising
Advertising

15 Things to Remember When You Love Someone with Autism

15 Things to Remember When You Love Someone with Autism

People with ASD (autism spectrum disorders) face enormous challenges. In many cases, autism flies under the radar. But if sufferers get the right kind of support and encouragement, it can make an enormous difference.

In the UK, about 1 in 100 people are liable to suffer from this incurable condition, while the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in the USA estimates that 1 in 68 births may have this disease. Some experts say that as many as 66% of adults with autism are not getting adequate support.

If you have a family member suffering from autism—which also includes Asperger’s and other co-morbid conditions—here are 15 ways you can love them and support them.

1. Learn about autism

Look out for some of the early symptoms so that you can get a diagnosis and make sure your child is on the fast track for better treatment and support at home and at school. The earlier, the better.

Some babies seem abnormally focused on certain objects and do not make eye contact. Toddlers may develop normally, but around the age of three you may notice that they are paying no attention to the normal social signals. The main problems occur when they display a lack of social interaction skills and will not want to share toys and mingle with other kids. They become obsessed with repetitive movements or behaviour which is often referred to as “stimming.”

Severity of symptoms will vary widely and some kids may only be mildly affected. But early symptoms usually center on a language delay, or the ability to relate to others and behave in a flexible way. Once you start learning about the disorder, you will feel more empowered and better able to cope as the child grows up.

Advertising

A must-read novel is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, which provides a wonderful insight into the strange world of an autistic child who decides to become a detective!

2. Understand your child better

A key to great support will come from studying the child closely and realizing what makes them uncomfortable and badly behaved. Notice what makes them feel at ease and more co-operative. Listen to the sounds they make and notice their facial expressions especially when they are hungry, irritable, or tired.

3. Discover your child’s talents

We should keep in mind that 30% of these kids have an IQ which is in the normal range. About 10% of autistic children have rather special intellectual abilities and skills which are remarkable. This certainly makes up for their lack of social skills. Let me list a few for you:

  • Powerful memory skills
  • Musical talent
  • Artistic skills
  • Math skills
  • Honesty
  • Intense focusing skills

Check out this link for kids and teens with autism who displayed enormous talent.

Many children can read fluently, memorize large chunks of texts, do calendar calculation, and dismantle or assemble things. Help your child discover his or her niche by letting them explore their passions and interests.

If your child loves animals, get him to help out a local animal shelter.

Advertising

4. Help them overcome language difficulties

Autistic children may have problems with understanding idioms and metaphors, not to mention sarcasm and jokes. Time to simplify things by speaking clearly without using fancy metaphors.

Don’t tell a child that something is “a piece of cake.” Just say, “this is really easy.” Similarly, it is better to say you are “really busy” instead of “busy as a bee.”

5. Resist labelling your child

Everybody loves a label because it defines the problem and the boundaries. On the other hand, this can be negative because it classifies a person and this is too limiting. Full acceptance of what autism involves can help us to accept our children as they are. They will have quirks, oddities and limits. Accept the differences, celebrate little successes so that your child will gain self-esteem. Resist using ‘normal’ children as a yardstick for your child’s progress.

6. Break down instructions

Teachers of autistic children need to concentrate on the students’ strengths in concrete thinking and learning by heart. They can effectively use visual aids in helping students learn, gain self-esteem, and improve self-control.

Both parents and teachers need to break down instructions into individual units instead of giving too many in a short space of time.

7. Use more visuals

Using pictures and drawings in the home can often avoid problems and accidents. They are also an invaluable aid to bridging the communication gap between the child, parents, and teachers.

Advertising

The great thing about visuals is that they do not disappear, like words do, into thin air! They can help the child to put things in order so that they can learn a skill step by step. They are a great aid for rehearsing and practising, whether they are school tasks or household chores.

8. Use routines and schedules consistently

Children and adults suffering from autism thrive on well-established routines and schedules.

Having an organized schedule when meals, school, treatment and play time happen with unfailing regularity is a great help. It is advisable to keep interruptions or changes to a bare minimum, and as far as possible you should warn the child in advance. Kids tend to become fixated with one object or task and when this is removed, all hell can break loose.

9. Reach out for support

Find a local organization in your area which helps and supports families who are coping with autism. Sometimes they have a helpline and you will be able to exchange experiences and get advice from other people who are living with this condition.

10. Help with sensory issues

One of the things we learn about autism early on is how kids and adults can be hypersensitive to most sensory perceptions. This will include touch, light, smell and sounds. Researchers at UC San Francisco found that autistic children’s brains are wired differently, which partially accounts for their sensory perception issues. Basically, they have difficulty in processing all stimulation coming from the senses.

Attending shows or watching TV with its garish colors and loud crashing sounds can be traumatic for kids. This explains the success of The Lion King which was hailed as the first autism-friendly production in history!

Advertising

Common problems arise when kids scream uncontrollably if their faces get wet or they try to eat inedible things. One possible solution is to note what usually triggers these responses and make an effort to avoid them. It must be said that autistic kids are not always consistent in their reaction to certain stimuli.

11. Decide which treatment plan is best

No one size fits all when it comes to the best treatment. It is alarming to learn that there are over 400 treatments according to the WebMD site. Each treatment has to be tailor made for your child. It will certainly include a very predictable routine, your child’s interests, and activities which are highly structured. Teaching tasks are always step by step. In addition, there are features in place for rewarding positive behaviour and celebrating successes. Behavior therapy is the one treatment which has shown the most promise.

12. Get up to speed on your child’s rights

A child who suffers from autism or a similar disorder has certain rights at school and in society. The parents may be the only advocates they have so it is important to know what is available and how it can benefit your child. Again, your local support group will be able to help you out on this one. It will also depend on which country or state you live in. It is important that you know whether special education services or IEP is available in your state and you need to be actively involved in it. It will also help you deal with issues at home, and teamwork here can be of great assistance. You may have to insist on getting a second, independent opinion about your child’s diagnosis. You can also request an IEP meeting if you feel that your child’s needs are not being catered to.

13. Build in sensory breaks

Some repetitive actions and movements are a comfort to the autistic person. He or she will find solace in them and it is recommended that they have a sensory break every few hours. Individual needs will vary. But activities like rocking, spinning, rubbing something, or even wearing a weighted blanket can help. Getting exercise too is a great way to help with calming down. There is some excellent advice in the book by Martha Herbert, a researcher at Harvard, called The Autism Revolution: Whole-Body Strategies for Making Life All It Can Be.

14. Helping teens and adults look for jobs

Employment prospects for people with autism can be a problem. There are encouraging signs that nonprofit organizations are leading the way in making employers more aware of the unique talents that autistic people can bring to the workplace. One of these is Specialisterne USA which was founded by Thorkil Sonne whose youngest son has autism. Their organization is hoping to create 100,000 jobs in the next year or so in the USA.

15. Brad’s story will encourage you

Brad suffers from autism and cannot speak. But from an early age, his father spotted his enormous talent for putting things together, like model aeroplanes and furniture. He now has his own furniture assembly business. Watch the video to learn how autism can lead to great opportunities and creativity.

Let us know in the comments how you have supported a loved one with autism.

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

7 Things You Can Do to Deal with Low-Energy Days 10 Reasons Why People Are Unmotivated (And How to Be Motivated) 10 Morning Habits Of Happy People 10 Simple Morning Exercises to Make You Feel Great All Day What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It

Trending in Communication

1 14 Things That Make You Happy and Enjoy Life More 2 Why Am I Feeling Tired All the Time? (And How to Fix It) 3 How to Fight Your Irrational Fears and Stay Strong 4 5 Simple Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude 5 How To Find Your Passion in Life and Fulfill Purpose

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 18, 2020

14 Things That Make You Happy and Enjoy Life More

14 Things That Make You Happy and Enjoy Life More

Do you ever come across people who are always upbeat and no matter what life throws at them? While people can be genetically disposed toward happiness, it’s more likely that these people have simply discovered more of the things that make you happy in life and utilize them to their advantage.

The good news is that you can increase your own happiness quotient by doing these 14 things that make people happy.

1. Start With a Good Dose of Gratitude

Being consciously aware of what you’re thankful for can actually change your level of happiness.

When you wake up each morning, spend time recalling all the things for which you feel grateful. Before you go to bed, you can keep a gratitude journal. Write down 3 to 5 things that you felt grateful for that day and why. Use all five senses to imagine these things vividly in order to help you brain latch on to all that goodness.

Gratitude leads to more things that make you happy

    One study found that, among mindfulness, belief in personal control, and gratitude, “happiness among students was primarily predicted by gratitude”[1].

    You can learn how to start a gratitude journal here.

    2. Make Sure You’re Giving Back

    Do you give 10% of your income to your favorite charity or organization? Instead of spending money on yourself, you’ll feel happier giving to others.

    There’s something about giving that allows you to receive more in return besides just the act of giving to help others. When you give, you’re sending a message to the Universe that you know everything’s going to be alright.

    According to a study published in 2010, “people experienced happier moods when they gave more money away—but only if they had a choice about how much to give”[2]

    Advertising

    By giving, you’ll be taken care of, too. You see it from those with very little to those who have millions: you have to give to get, and by doing that, your happiness increases.

    3. Laugh Every Day (It’s Better than Money)

    Do you spend time each day laughing? Do you purposefully find happy things to laugh about?

    When you laugh, you release happy hormones called oxytocin and endorphins. These are hormones that uplifts us as we share experiences with others. Even just making yourself smile will put you in a better place.

    It is thought that the fact that laughter releases these hormones in order to promote social bonding, so try getting together with friends for a good dose of laughter, as well as increased social connection[3]. These are things that make you happy.

    4. Foster Good Relationships With Family and Friends

    Happy people don’t spend large amounts of time alone. By spending time with people you like and love, you forge supportive relationships that help people feel better during times of stress.

    You also bond with others through common experiences, such as life’s ups and downs. They become your support network and help bring more of the things that make people happy.

    People who don’t spend as much time with family or friends are more prone to loneliness and depression. Here’s How to Tell If You Are Fostering Positive Relationships in Life.

    5. Take Some Alone Time

    In contrast to spending time with family and friends, it’s important to step back and take some time for yourself in order to cultivate self-care.

    You can recharge your spirit and find a little peace. Taking some time away and being alone can do wonders for your mood and outlook, as well as help you find the meaning of true happiness.

    Use this time to do more of the things that make you happy, such as a favorite hobby, exercise, or simple relaxation. Even just sitting in the sun or listening to your favorite song can improve your life satisfaction in the short term.

    Advertising

    6. Do What You Love

    Have you ever heard the phrase, “Do what you love, and the money will follow?” Doing things that you love to do–and even better, getting paid for it–are good ways to boost your levels of happiness.

    When work feels like play, you’re more likely to enjoy other aspects of your life more, too.

    7. Volunteer Your Time

    When you give your time or talent, your focus shifts from your life to that of others.

    This can help you realize that your own problems may not be that bad. You invariably forge new relationships and experience an uplift in your spirit.

    Furthermore, volunteering can give you a sense of purpose and keep you active during downtime in your life. It will also increase self-confidence as you begin to feel better about yourself and your place in the world[4].

    8. Get Enough Exercise

    Among the things that make you happy, few are as well researched as exercise. When you take time out for exercise, you’re doing your body good in more ways than one.

    First, you’re doing what it was designed to do: physical exertion. Humans were made to move around, and the body works best when it does what it was meant to do.

    Furthermore, as you exercise, you release a ton of feel-good hormones. These hormones can help increase happiness levels, as well as lower stress.

    One study found that “Exercisers were more satisfied with their life and happier than non-exercisers at all ages”[5]. And the good news is that it takes as little as 30 minutes to gain the amazing benefits of exercise.

    Try these 10 Simple Morning Exercises to Make You Feel Great All Day

    Advertising

    9. Avoid Regrets

    We all make mistakes in life–that’s part of the human condition. However, with a little forethought, you can try to avoid making big mistakes and focus more on the happy things in life.

    Even then, they still happen. That’s when it’s best to learn to forgive–yourself and others–because everyone else just trying to get through life the best they can, too. They’ll make mistakes, but the trick is moving on from them.

    10. Take Time to Meditate

    Sitting down, lighting a candle and doing some deep breathing for 10 minutes is all it takes to relax your mind and body.

    In doing so, you get in touch with your inner-self, and invariably, you’ll get to know your values and priorities a little better. That’s definitely a booster on the happiness scale and will lead you toward more of the things that make you happy.

    11. Deal With Clutter

    Are you overrun with books and papers piled everywhere? Too much mail sitting on the table? Why not tackle a small task each day for a month in an effort to de-clutter your life?

    When you’re not running around looking for items you can’t find, and when everything has its place, you’ll automatically be less stressed and in a better mental state.

    That’s a great place to be on Monday morning when you’re trying to get out the door and you already know where the lunchboxes are, and the bills you have to mail.

    Here’s a guide to help you declutter: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

    12. Get Enough Rest

    Among the things that make people happy, sleep is one of the easiest and most natural. Ever notice how cranky you are in the afternoon when you’ve only had 5 or 6 hours of sleep? Many of us are suffering from sleep deprivation, which can lead to higher levels of stress and edginess.

    Research has shown that simply getting enough sleep “improves memory, increases people’s ability to concentrate, strengthens the immune system and decreases people’s risk of being killed in accidents”[6].

    Advertising

    After a good night of sleep, you can tackle your daily tasks in a more calm, alert way. It’s so much better than experiencing that awful sluggish feeling in that oh-so-important meeting with your boss. Your body will thank you, too.

    13. Eat Healthier Foods

    You’ve heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” Healthy, nutritious foods not only make your body feel good, but they can improve your mental health as well.

    If you spend your time eating package after package of boxed noodles, canned dinners, or fast food, your body is going to let you know by gaining weight, feeling sluggish, and quite possibly having a host of health problems. How can you look and feel your best if the foods you eat are not good for you?

    By eating better, you’re not only taking care of yourself, but you’ll also feel more vibrant and energetic. You’ll literally be healthier from the inside out.

    Try the tips in this article: How to Start Eating Healthy No Matter How Old You Are

    14. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others

    This is definitely easier said than done, but if you can condition your mind to focus on the good that you are doing and the good things in your life, you’re not going to be tempted to focus on how others are doing.

    Research on the effects of social media use has found that upward comparisons on social media are associated with lower self-esteem[7].

    Here are some tips to help you stop comparing yourself to others.

    Final Thoughts

    Happiness comes from all the small things and habits you do every day. If you want to start living a happy life, practice these 14 happy things and fit them into your daily routine!

    More on Things That Make You Happy

    Featured photo credit: Matheus Ferrero via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next