World Autism Day 2021: 6 Ways To Help Children With Autism Lead A Stress-Free Life
World Autism Day is observed on 2 April each year. This day attempts to create awareness about this condition that can help improve quality of life of an autistic child.
World Autism Day 2021: Autism affects the social skills of a child
- World Autism Day is observed on 2 April each year
- Many babies with autism start to show initial signs from 6 months of age
- Autistic kids think, learn and experience the world differently
The World Autism Day is held every year on April 2, to instill conversations around autism and to reinforce the importance of creating an environment where autistic individuals can lead full and meaningful lives being an integral part of society. Stress among children with autism occurs quite frequently and more intensely as regular daily activities can get difficult, provoking anxiety which can lead to disruptive behaviour. As children with autism have difficulty with social skills, they struggle to express their distress. Thus, their disruptive behaviour happens to be their 'cry for help'. Significant changes in routine have been identified as one of the most common factors for their stress.
Here's how parents and caregivers can help children with autism destress-
1. Identifying their triggers
Since children with autism struggle with communication, caregivers can be keen in identifying non-verbal manifestation of anxiety through observation. Thus, identifying patterns of trigger will help them avoid situations which lead them to an uncomfortable state of mind.
Children with autism often have certain chosen spaces, either at home or at school, which serves as a safe space for them. Whenever they show signs of stress, caregivers must encourage them to move to their safe space and provide them their favourite items/toys/tools. This helps them in grounding to the moment.
It is important to help them identify their signs of anxiety like sweaty palms, stomach distress, palpitations or hand tremors and encourage relaxation strategies such as counting slowly to ten (through hand movements), taking five deep breaths, looking at a collection of favourite or comforting things or going through a book with pleasant pictorial presentations.
4. Story telling
The use of social stories can be a great way to destress the children with autism as it reduces their anticipation, which helps in neutralizing their over-stimulation. Story telling also helps in overcoming anxiety by imitating or modelling the events from the story which further conditions them to cope with such situations in a more relaxed manner.
5. Adapting to changes
It is crucial to help them adapt to changes efficiently by starting with smaller changes such as slowing down the daily routine, assisting with simpler tasks, encouraging them to communicate their distress verbally or non-verbally to name a few.
6. Visual Representation
Use of visual supports in terms of time-tables and schedules plays a significant role in helping children with autism express their feelings. It can also be used as a mode to prepare and train them. This would help in reducing anxiety as verbal communication tends to make them anxious. Non-verbal communication helps them in serving the purpose in more efficient manner.
(Akanksha Pandey, Consultant Clinical Psychology, Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road)
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