How to cope with your child’s autism

2017-04-12 06:02

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Autism South Africa rallies for public support countrywide during autism awareness month.

The campaign during the month of April aims at disseminating information and sharing helpful tips for raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Autism is a complex, lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people and how they experience the world around them.

“While we are actively engaging in awareness campaigns, the people who need our support are often the parents of children with autism.

“As a parent, discovering that your child is different can be difficult,” says Sandy Usswald, national director of Autism South Africa.

“However, when it comes to autism, early diagnosis – ideally between 18 to 36 months – makes a significant difference in the foundation years of a child’s development and growth.

The younger your child, the greater the impact of intervention, which improves the prognosis and effect autism has on the child.

“That being said, it is never too late to begin an intervention to reduce the effect of the disorder and to help your child learn, grow and thrive.”

Usswald encourages parents to learn more about autism and suggests the following tips:

  • The better equipped you are, the easier it will be to make informed decisions for your child.

Educate yourself about the treatment options, ask questions and participate in all intervention discussions.

The internet can be a great source of infor­mation, but it is often difficult to wade through all the false information out there.

  • Become an expert on your child.

Identify the triggers that lead to your child’s challenging behaviours and find out what elicits a positive response.

  • Joining an autism support group is a great way to meet and relate with other families facing the same challenges.

“Every parent of an autistic child needs help and support.

“If you are one, don’t be afraid to find an autism support centre or school near you that can assist you in being the best parent you can be to a child with autism,” says Usswald.

  • Visit www.aut2know.­co.za or the National Autistic Society on www.autism.org.uk.

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