Help For Parents & Teaching Autistic Children

Teaching an autistic child can be a very challanging experience leaving parents confused and frustrated. However, with the proper education and support systems, families can learn to thrive.

Autism is a brain-based developmental disorder that affects 1 in 500 people in the U.S. People with the disorder usually lack typical language ability and do not do well in most social settings. Males make up 80 percent of the autistic population, though scientific reasons for this gender distinction still remain unknown.

What is also unknown is the cause of this condition. Everything from genetic mutations to chemical imbalances to even side effects from childhood immunizations has been blamed for autism. While none of these can be completely ruled out, there is definitely one that can be: Autism is NOT a result of bad parenting, despite what many "experts" said decades ago.

While parents may be relieved to learn that their child's diagnosis was not caused by anything that they did, many still feel guilty for being unable to communicate with their children. If this is your problem, rest assured that there are resources out there to help you and you your child.

The school system is a great resource for helping your child. There are many teachers out there who have experience and training in dealing with children with special needs, particularly autistic children. These educators can often help these children build on their skills and interests. This is very important because one out of ten autistic children show enormous talent in music, art, memory, and mathematics. There are many special schools available to autistic children that have qualified and trained personnel. If this type of schooling fails to fit into your budget, don't be discouraged. Public schools are also responding to the challenge of educating autistic children. Many are incorporating programs specifically for these children in their exceptional education departments.

Another resource is alternative treatments. While methods such as special diets and facilitated communication have not been scientifically proven to help combat autism, many families say that they are effective. The best advice for parents is to talk to other parents and ask what methods work for their children. While the same treatments won't work for everybody, some may work for your child. Always, however, consult a physician before using a new or alternative treatment with your children.

Additional Tips for Parents:

1. See a doctor. If you suspect that your child may be autistic, go to an experienced physician and get a diagnosis.

2. Read up on disability rights. Know your child's rights as far as education, government assistance, and other benefits are concerned. Know the Americans With Disabilities Act.

3. Get your child treatment. Speech therapy at an early age can greatly help autistic children develop their language and social skills. If speech therapy does not work, look into other methods such as sign language and facilitated communication.

4. Become familiar with Non-Profit Organizations that focus on Autism.

5. Be patient with your children. Behavior management with autistic children is a large problem for many families. Remember that your child isn't willfully misbehaving, just trying to make sense out of their surroundings.

6. Don't repeatedly drill a task into the child. Autistic people in general strongly resist any transitions or changes in routine. Forcing the child into doing something can prove to be traumatic for them. Instead, give them choice and let them know what task follows the next. This will give them a sense of control and stability.

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