Do you have a child with Autism or know someone with this diagnosis? Often, the actions of people with Autism are misinterpreted. At times people may think a person with Autism is rejecting them or has no interest in them because he often appears to be in his own world and likes things a certain way. This guide is to help you sort through that so you can connect with your loved one with Autism.
- Understand that you cannot take it personal if your child with Autism is exhibiting challenging behaviors, not talking or not showing affection. Sometimes this is part of the disorder and if you take this personally you will widen the gap between you and your child.
- Observe your child. See what he does and then join him. Start by playing next to him doing the same thing. Don’t try to change what he is doing or make him do what you are doing. Ease into it. If you come on too strong you will push him away.
- Recognize that sensory issues are real. The 5 senses are sometimes amplified for people with Autism. This can make every day things painful at times. If your child is having a melt down because of a sensory experience he may not be over-reacting. Help him work through this and learn how to communicate about it. Don’t respond impatiently or harshly. This also means that some sensory sensations feel amazing to a person with Autism. If you know your child likes his back scratched or his arm squeezed offer to do this for him!
- Routines and fixations are often very powerful for people with Autism. They can provide comfort and relaxation. They can also cause a person with Autism to isolate himself. So please choose your battles when interrupting a routine or fixation. Some routines are important to interrupt and some are important to allow. For example, the more consistent you are, the more comfortable your child will be with you. Making yourself predictable will reduce your child’s anxiety around you.
- If your child is obsessed with a certain topic let him talk to you about it! Show interest in his passion. People with Autism sometimes get obsessed with certain topics and learn more about them than the average person knows. Your child is more likely to feel connected to you if you show genuine interest in his interests.
Autism can be gift but it can often be confusing for both the person with Autism and the people who are trying to connect with him. Know that people with Autism are capable of loving deeply and being in lasting relationships but sometimes certain symptoms can get in the way of that. If you love a person with Autism never stop pursuing him. People with Autism have so much to offer the world!
Do you have advice you can share on connecting with a child with Autism? Please share it here.
Katie Saint is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Katie works for Fox Valley Autism Treatment Program as a Lead Therapist, writes and teaches ABA classes for Northwestern University of St. Paul and has her own private practice for mental health counseling.