What Autistic Kids Need More Than Counseling

It pains me to admit that I still have relatives who do not understand autism. That is especially true because I have a younger cousin who has this condition.

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Let’s call the little cousin by the name of John. My aunt and her husband separated when John was only seven years old. It was such a messy breakup that my grandparents decided to step in and look after my cousin so that my aunt could work full-time and build her life back up.

When my aunt chose to go overseas to work as a doctor, John was left in the care of my grandparents. They sent him to the same private school I went to; they got the best tutors for him because his mother previously said that he was not very academic. The only problem was that John was still failing as all he wanted to do was play on one particular swing, watch his toy train move, or both.

At the time, I was only ten years old. My parents and I often went to my grandparents’ house for a Sunday BBQ dinner. Since John and I were closer in age than our other cousins, we usually played together. Oh, let me clarify that — I usually tried playing with him, but he did not always pay attention to me.

It would have been understandable if I made John play with my Barbie dolls or tea sets. However, because I knew that boys were not into those, and I wanted to befriend him, I would ask him to jump with me on the trampoline, do cannonballs at the pool, etc. But no response — he seemed too happy to be by himself.

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Then, I would sometimes have his classmates talk to me about how John did not even know the answer to 0 + 1. Even though I was still young, I knew that’s not normal, so I told my father, a child psychologist, about it. It was not to snitch on John but to find a way to help him because I loved my little cousin.

Would you like to know how my grandparents and aunt reacted when they learned about it? Gramps and Granny went to the school to bribe John’s teachers. They were supposed to become John’s new tutors. During exams or quizzes, the teachers were supposed to help him answer all the questions. For instance, if it were a four-choice question, they would have to eliminate two choices to make it easier for John to answer them. They said, “Nothing is wrong with John other than he could not keep up with the other kids academically. We know he’s a smart boy. He just needs time.”

When my father was not satisfied with my grandparents’ reaction, he decided to call John’s mother. Before making the call, Dad sounded so sure that his sister would side with him and want to have her child diagnosed with he suspected as autism. After all, she was a doctor. If anyone would understand how mental disorders worked, she would.

Thus, you could imagine my father’s shock when my aunt ended their conversation abruptly. Dad had not even begun to talk about his observations during our Sunday get-togethers, and my aunt was already upset. She said the same thing that my grandparents did, “Give John time. He’s only a little slow for his age, but it does not mean that he has a long-term condition.”

Seven Years After That

John got through elementary with his teachers making shortcuts for him left and right. It continued even in middle school, especially since my grandparents and aunt decided to keep him in the same private school. In reality, though, they could not take John anywhere else because no other school was willing to accept bribes from parents or guardians.

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What happened to John, you might ask? He was breezing through life. He developed a somewhat cocky attitude, which he would mask around the family, but I heard all about it through friends. They told me that John barely attended classes. He was always at the basketball court, shooting hoops, or watching other kids play. Sometimes, John would let the teachers persuade him to return to the classroom; other times, he would ignore them completely.

Despite such odd activities, my aunt and grandparents still believed that John’s actions were normal. Their new alibi was, “John is a growing teenager. It seems typical for teenagers to act like a rebel sometimes.” But once John graduated from middle school, they faced a dilemma because the private school did not have grades 11 and 12. Meaning, John had to enroll in another school.

Facing Issues

The closest high school to my grandparents’ house was known for doing psych evaluations to potential enrollees. John managed to get one foot in instantly because Gramps was a former principal there, but the school psychologist voiced her concerns about John after the first interview. She practically said that she did not know why John was never sent to a SPED school, where he needed to be.

I was accompanying my grandparents at the time, so I saw how shocked they were. They also seemed offended, saying that John was “normal.” But it was the psychologist’s turn to get surprised as she found out that my cousin had never seen a mental health professional until now. She suggested that my cousin skip at least a year of schooling and receive proper diagnosis and treatment before it’s too late.

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Again, my grandparents took offense to that. Granny, still in denial, said that there’s nothing wrong with John. And if there was, he could go to counseling after classes. However, the psychologist calmly noted that continuing to deny that John showed symptoms of autism would hurt his future further. She said that John needs acceptance more than anything. “I could not fathom how hard it must be for you, but you must accept that he is not ready to keep up with the other kids. He needs proper mental assistance and care,” the psychologist added.

There was an extended family meeting that night. I did not join it, but I heard John wailing from the other room, saying that he wanted to go to school in his garbled speech. Luckily, my aunt and grandparents knew what’s best for him this time.

After getting diagnosed with low-functioning autism, John got enrolled in occupational therapy for a year to help him handle life situations more. My aunt also finally agreed to send him to a SPED school instead of bribing his way through high school to prepare him for the future.

It had only been two more years, but we could all see a change in John’s behavior. He was more attentive and more curious than ever. He had better control of his emotions, too.

That high school interview was John’s lifesaver that his mother and our grandparents never knew he needed.

Accepting Child’s Autism Through Counseling

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There was a lovely family in the apartment complex where I grew up who was loved by many. They always had good food and were more than willing to share them with everyone. Mrs. Lopez even saved many parents in the building from daycare centers because she opened her doors to the little kids whose moms and dads had nowhere to leave their children as they go to work.

When I said that the Lopez family was loved by many, I only meant the elderly couple. It did not extend much to their only child, Luna. Luna was around my age, and she grew up to become an average teenage girl who craved going to parties more than anything in the world. And as an only child, she was used to getting her way out of everything.

But then, one day, gossip buzzed throughout the apartment complex. We heard that Mr. Lopez had enough of Luna’s antics and disowned her. Later, we found out why: she got pregnant at 16 years old.

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When The Prodigal Daughter Returned

Two years already passed, and no one thought that we would see Luna come back. However, I saw her come up the building on a Wednesday afternoon with a toddler. I didn’t see much of the child’s features, but it was safe to assume that that’s the same kid she was carrying in her womb when her father threw her out.

After an hour, Mrs. Lopez was knocking on our door. When I opened it, she hugged me and said, “My Luna came home with this little angel. Can you watch her for a minute so that we could talk to her mother?”

That’s only when I saw the child – a little girl named Charlie – for the first time. She was so cute with her golden locks and porcelain skin. I said hi to her, and she did not reply, but I thought that most kids around that age were a bit shy.

The family discussion turned out to be fruitful as Luna moved back in with her parents on the same day. She apparently promised to clean up her act and start working hard to provide for her child.

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Love And Concern For Charlie

Luna’s return allowed the entire apartment complex to get to know Charlie. Everyone grew to love that little girl. She was pretty and quiet; she did not act up like the other kids. However, some concerned individuals mentioned that Charlie was too quiet for her age and kept to herself most of the time.

Back then, I was already a sophomore in college, taking up psychology. Though my expertise was still lacking, I saw some possible signs of autism in Charlie. I let another year pass before I voiced my concerns to Mrs. Lopez as I gave the child the benefit of the doubt. Some kids develop slower than others, after all.

To my surprise, Mrs. Lopez said that she had been noticing the same symptoms in the house as well. She wasn’t just not saying anything in hopes of them going away on their own.

“Perhaps you could discuss this with Luna during dinner, and then I will accompany you to a child psychologist that I know,” I offered.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Lopez told me that she would not go through with the consultation the next day. “Luna took it badly,” she confessed. “My daughter accused me of not loving my grandchild for wanting to have her seen by a psychologist.”

I felt terrible for Mrs. Lopez upon hearing that, but I honestly felt worse for Luna. She was clearly in denial. It was pretty certain that she had seen the symptoms in Charlie, too, but she refused to believe that her child needed help. I dropped by the restaurant where she was waitressing so that we could have a chat.

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Counseling A Parent In Denial

Though Luna and I were never friends, we were cordial to each other. When she saw me waiting outside the restaurant, she came up to me and agreed to go to the nearest cafe. 

After a few small talks, Luna opened up about the situation at home.

“Mama must have told you about her wish of taking my daughter to a child psychologist,” she started.

“I suggested it to her,” I admitted, “But please don’t take it the wrong way. You will be able to help Charlie better when you know what’s going on with her.”

Luna sighed. “I know what you mean. I also know something’s wrong with my baby’s behavior. But letting a doctor see her means that I’m accepting that I failed Charlie. I failed as a mother.” With that, silent tears flowed down her cheeks.

It was the first time I witnessed how much Luna matured, and I could not help but feel sorry for her. I decided to extend the counseling duties I took on during summer break at the university hospital and counseled Luna. I helped her accept that she could not have prevented her child’s mental condition. All she could do was ensure that Charlie was getting all the help she needed.

A few months later, Charlie got diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, and Luna showed bravery by not crying in front of her child. In truth, she worked harder than ever so that Charlie could continue getting therapy and whatever support she might need in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions About Anxiety, Psychology, And Meditation

My son, Lucas, had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when he was eight years old. My husband and I started consulting a child psychologist about his condition before turning five. Still, we had to wait for three years before the mental health professional could provide a diagnosis because my son was still very young. And in those three years, I kept on praying and wishing that Lucas was not on the autism spectrum, that we were merely reading too into his behaviors.

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Some people might say that I was in denial at the time, and I would agree with them. I knew deep down that my son was not born normal, but I refused to admit that to anyone – not even to myself. If I did, I would start questioning everything that happened while still carrying my child in the womb and wondering what went wrong. Then, I could spiral down the anxiety lane, which I already had a history of. I thought that’s the worst thing that could happen, considering my husband would have to take care of me too, aside from Lucas.

Little did I know, the child psychologist who had been monitoring my son noticed the changes in my behaviors, too. She pulled me to the side one day when I went to her office to pick up Lucas earlier than usual to talk about her observation, and I had no choice but to confide in her. I established that I did not want to retake antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs, and she respected my decision. When I asked about what else I could do then, the psychologist suggested mindfulness meditation.

Here are the things I learned about anxiety and meditation.

Does mindfulness help with anxiety? 

 Yes, mindfulness helps with anxiety. It is one of the new useful techniques for anxiety treatment that mental health professionals recommend to their patients at the present moment. After all, when you are paying attention to your thoughts and emotions all the time, you will be able to assess and remind yourself that there is nothing much to worry about wherever you may go. 

What is mindfulness in psychology? 

 Mindfulness pertains to a person’s nonjudgmental awareness about their thoughts and feelings, or whatever may change either over time. It is positive psychology that mental health professionals and support groups recommend, especially to individuals with bipolar disorder, chronic pain, eating disorders, anxiety, and stress. By performing mindfulness practices, such folks may have an improved outlook on life.

What are mindfulness techniques? 

 There are four kinds of mindfulness practices that you should know about:

  • Sitting: Start by sitting cross-legged or extending your legs in front of you on the floor. You can use a mat or pillow and plant your back on the wall to focus on what you are doing instead of worrying about your pose. In case that is not possible, you can sit in a chair and relax your body without slouching.  
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  • Visualizing: With your eyes closed, you can visualize the sky, sea, birds, and other aspects of nature that may bring calmness to your heart and mind. In case you wish to DIY your visualization meditation, you may imagine water flowing through you, bringing your stress, anxiety, and depression with it as it leaves your body.
  • Mantra Chanting: Chanting a mantra is quite similar to talking about self-affirmations in front of the mirror. However, instead of talking and standing, you need to sit down as if you’re doing sitting meditation and listen to your breath as you inhale and exhale. When you manage to do that, you may begin to utter short phrases like “I am calm” and “I am happy” in your head until you feel what you’re saying.
  • Walking: Walking meditation is recommended for people who practically cannot sit still or keep their eyes closed for whatever reason. You can walk around your garden or street and pay attention to every movement required to bring one foot in front of the other. It is also ideal to live near the beach because you can go barefooted and feel the sand and water and focus on that.

How does mindfulness help mental health? 

 Mindfulness practices are supposed to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress. According to researchers who look at how it affects the nervous system, mindfulness meditation can shrink the gray matter’s size in your amygdala, one of the tiniest parts of your body (or brain, rather) that influences your thoughts and feelings. The bigger it is, the more stress you deal with, the more you cannot embrace positive psychology.

How does mindfulness make you feel? 

 Mindfulness may be a bit intimidating at first, considering it requires you to sit still and work on your thoughts and feelings. Some even find it silly to do, especially when they are doing mindfulness meditation on their own. But once you get past that, stabilize your blood pressure, pay attention to your breathing alone, and stop worrying about different parts of your body. You can use mindfulness for anxiety, chronic pain, bipolar disorder, etc.

Do mindfulness activities work? 

 Yes, mindfulness practices genuinely work, provided that you do them well. For one, you cannot meditate when the TV is on, or your kids are playing nearby since that will prevent you from finding inner peace. It would help if you also were optimistic about its efficiency because willpower works wonders for everyone. Nevertheless, mindfulness meditations are not foolproof, especially when you do them without a master’s guidance.   

What are the four foundations of mindfulness? 

  • Mindfulness of the Body: It encourages you to recognize that the various parts of your body are unique, even though they all makeup who you are. You may start with feeling your lungs expanding and deflating as you inhale and exhale or being conscious of which parts of your body move when you stand, sit, and walk.
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  • Mindfulness of Feelings: It gives you a chance to understand every emotion you feel and why. For instance, being with your family makes you happy, going to a church makes you spiritual, and watching cat videos makes you laugh. This way, you are aware of what emotions an action will evoke and avoid depressing situations.
  • Mindfulness of Mind: It refers to your consciousness about the validity of your thoughts. This is important since many people tend to speak before they think, causing them to hurt others.
  • Mindfulness of Dhammas: It signifies the dhammas as mental objects, which feelings, mind, and body can eventually become. 

What are the three positive effects of mindfulness? 

 Mindfulness can offer your stress relief, especially when you try the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) technique, a mix of yoga and mindfulness meditation. It is helpful if your nervous system seems close to breaking down due to the high number of stressors in your life.

Anxiety mindfulness is another thing. When you meditate with the sole intention of coping with your anxiety, it can eventually soothe your nervous system and prevent you from acting irrationally at any given time. 

And even when you don’t have mental health issues, mindfulness allows you to know your true self and live your best life.

What are the three components of mindfulness? 

 Whenever you do mindfulness-based meditation, you need to have:

  • Intention: Mindfulness will not positively affect you when you do it half-heartedly or because a friend has forced you to do it. It would be best if you wanted to be mindful to increase your chances of gaining its benefits.
  • Attention: You must bring your attention to your breathing when you meditate instead of your hands, shoulders, ears, or other parts of your body. Some people lock themselves in a quiet room or use noise-canceling headphones during the process so that you won’t hear anything and get distracted.
  • Attitude: While meditating, it matters to embody positive psychology and open yourself to kindness, acceptance, and love. You cannot find inner peace when you stay angry and sad or keep your walls up.

How can I be mindful every day? 

 Before your day begins, you can start meditating on the quietest or most comfortable part of the house. Whether it’s your couch, bed, or porch – it’s all good. Focus on your inhalation and exhalation, clear your thoughts, detach yourself from adverse feelings, and open your eyes when calmness spreads all over you.

Once you leave the house, you can demonstrate mindfulness by being aware of everything you do or say. If someone overtakes you on the road without a signal, for instance, you think that the driver needs to be somewhere ASAP instead of dwelling on the fact that they’re rude. If you don’t like what a colleague did with your project, you find out why they did that instead of picking a fight or calling them names.

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How can I live a mindful life? 

 The first thing you can do is try following guided meditations that gurus upload on various online platforms. If it does not work, you may find a therapist in San Diego, New York, or wherever you live. There are also support groups that offer mindfulness-based counseling.

On a practical level, though, you can live a mindful life by staying grounded. Understand that we are all specks of dust in the universe and lucky to be alive. The money, social status, and superficial things we think we need do not honestly matter more than our friends, family, and peace of mind. Hence, there is no reason to waste your time over the former.

How do I start mindfulness? 

 You can start a mindfulness-based life even before you find a therapist who can help you with it. When you let go of greed, jealousy, anger, and other awful thoughts and feelings, you are already exhibiting mindfulness. When you open yourself up to the possibility of healing your physical ailments through meditation and other holistic treatments, you are also showing mindfulness.

It may seem challenging to do all these – specifically getting rid of all the negative thoughts that come to mind – but you can see a positive change in yourself when you remove at least one of them from your system. For instance, if your typical reaction once you see your rival crying is to smirk and mutter, “Serves you right,” try putting yourself in their shoes and be a little sympathetic for a change. The more you avoid resorting to thinking ugly, the more you start becoming mindful.

How can I practice mindfulness and reduce anxiety? 

 Mindfulness for anxiety is one of the hottest topics in psychology nowadays. There are various ways to practice mindfulness and reduce your anxiety, namely:

  • Meditating before you leave the house
  • Calming your thoughts before you enter a building
  • Validating your worries and emotions as you feel them
  • Taking deep breaths and focusing on it

Does mindfulness help memory? 

 Yes, mindfulness helps memory retention. When you do it correctly, your mind becomes free of worries and other exhausting thoughts, so it is effortless for you to remember whatever you need to do for the day. The more you practice mindfulness, the more your memory and concentration may improve.

Is mindfulness good for depression?

Yes, mindfulness is excellent for depression. Most depressed individuals lack nonjudgmental awareness of their thoughts, emotions, and perceptions, after all. But once they meditate, they may begin to gain inner balance and get rid of their problems.

Final Thoughts

I was honestly skeptical about trying mindfulness meditation when my child’s psychologist recommended it to me. I did not know what to think of it because I did not have friends who practiced it. Luckily, she happened to be trained in this area, so she managed to guide me through it. It only took a few sessions before I realized what’s going on in my head before anxiety would attack, and I could always catch it and put myself back to zen mode.

 

Mental Health 101: Tips For Effective Teletherapy Sessions For People With Autism

With the continuous advancement of technology, a lot of sectors have tried to maximize its use. One particular area where digital has become beneficial is in mental health, mainly through teletherapy. 

Teletherapy has become huge in this world. More and more people resorted to this approach due to its accessibility, cost-effectiveness, and preference. Even individuals under the autism spectrum tried this service, but many continue to debate whether this is advisable or not.

To ensure that teletherapy’s utmost effectiveness for people with autism, here are some tips you can apply as a parent. 

Limit Distractions

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Keep in mind that those individuals under the autism spectrum are very sensitive when it comes to distractions. Sensory-rich environments easily capture their attention. With this, they instantly lose their focus. 

Therefore, one way to ensure that the teletherapy session goes smoothly is to discuss in a calming and quiet space. Do not put them in a room with people talking and full of play devices. You may also try considering the colors in your area. For instance, bright colors distract those with autism easily, and they tend to stare at it once in a while. 

Do not also put them in an area where they can hear the television or radio. Make sure that they are in a quiet room. If there are different noises,  they are likely to be distracted and unable to take in their sessions fully. 

Include Teletherapy In Their Schedule

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Believe it or not, those with autism want their schedules organized. Their minds get so chaotic if they are faced with the unknown. Therefore, you need to disclose that teletherapy is a part of their schedule at the start of the day. This way, they get to prepare their minds and set aside their expectations. 

Do not forget to remind them of the schedule throughout the day. If the session is in the late afternoon, make sure to run through their schedule again at lunch. 

Brief The Therapist With Your Child’s Likes And Dislikes

As a parent, you must brief your therapist with your child’s likes and dislikes before the session. Through this, it will be easier for them to know what approach to use to their client. It is essential to keep this in mind since children with autism may have a hard time going back to their focus once they get irritated with whom they’re talking. 

For instance, several teletherapy platforms offer stickers as a way to engage their clients. Some even show brief videos of cartoons that will help them gain the child’s trust and get their full participation. Rest assured that therapists have the right knowledge of what is suitable for your child. 

Understand The Game Plan

As a parent, it is your responsibility to do the follow-through after the session. Unlike face-to-face talks, teletherapy might not capture your child’s emotions fully. It might be hard for them to open up in front of the computer.

Therefore, there is only so much the therapist can do. They can only set the foundation, but building the path towards good mental health is in your hands. 

The best way to go about this is to ask your therapist about the direction they want to go. Then, let them instruct you how you can help at home. Make sure to continue collaborating with them to ensure the progress of your child. Some of the things that you should know include the following: 

  • Is there something that you should change in your parenting skills?
  • Should you push with visual or conversational therapy?
  • Are there any special care needs that should be implemented in the household?
  • How will you empower the child?
  • Should you go out of your way when it comes to task-specific praises?
  • How will you go about giving them directions?

These are just some starter questions. Make sure to understand more in-depth on how you can assist your child outside teletherapy. 

Fix The Technicals

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We can’t avoid technical issues when it comes to technology. The only way to reduce the possibility of messing up is to be proactive in these issues.

First of all, determine the best spot in the room for your Wi-Fi connection. If you feel that the connection is a bit erratic, you may opt to connect it to your hotspot or use an ethernet cable. Disconnecting issues will only make your child lose his or her focus. 

Also,  make sure that the monitor is on eye level. Always remember that socialization is critical for people with autism. To establish their trust with the one they’re talking to, they should be able to make eye contact and see their facial expressions. If they don’t fully see their therapist, it would be difficult for them to connect. 

Consider using a computer stand to secure your webcam is at eye level. This will ensure that their socialization skills are at its best. 

This new therapy setup may work wonders, especially with the realities that we have now. However, to make it more effective, the parents’ support is of the utmost importance.

 

Understanding The Role Of The Family In The Development Of A Child With ASD

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Raising a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD may be a challenging task for some families. However, the child’s development growing up will be primarily affected by how the family will show their love while they raise and nurture him. Thus, the role of the parents, siblings, and relatives in the child’s life is indispensable.

Challenges In Raising A Child With ASD

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition in a person that persists and affects interaction, behavior (restricted or repetitive), and communication (speech and nonverbal). Symptoms vary among people, including the severity – therefore, a person with ASD may exhibit different behavioral patterns than others.

The common signs and symptoms of autism are: avoiding eye contact and wants to be left alone, having trouble talking about their own feelings or that of other people, and having difficulty in expressing their needs using words or movement.

It is also common for them to not look at objects when it is pointed at by another, or to have trouble in adapting to changes in their routine, among others.

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With the signs mentioned above and symptoms, indeed, raising a child with ASD might be a daunting undertaking. The child will need special attention, extra love and care from his or her parents and other family members, and proper medical treatment.

Fortunately, early detection of ASD is possible with the right professional intervention. ASD typically appears in childhood, with symptoms manifesting as early as 2 to 3 years old. Quick and timely medical diagnosis and treatment will aid in reducing the symptoms of ASD; hence, greatly influencing the future of the child.

Love, Acceptance, And Support

The family is the foundation of society. Parents should provide the best for their children, and nurture them with their love and care. The quality of family life inside the home significantly affects the development of any person – especially those suffering from any sickness or afflictions.

First, families must be accepting of the child’s situation. Unconditional, whole-hearted acceptance is needed to move forward and prepare for the future of the child. Breaking the stigma on ASD and other disorders must start within the four walls of the house to foster a welcoming atmosphere that extends outside of the home.

Acceptance must also be enduring, even as the child gets older. It means that he or she will most likely have difficulty finding a job to support himself or herself. Even in the future, he or she will need extra love and understanding.

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Parents can make a tremendous impact on the child. Parents must learn how to interact with the child appropriately. In communicating with the child, adults must include comments or actions that will pique the current interest and behavior of the child.

This strategy is necessary to facilitate the child’s focus or attention. It is only one of the recommended courses of action to be taken by parents.

Further, it cannot be stressed enough that love and support are vital in providing the best possible life for a child with autism. As the saying goes, there is power in love. Love can heal. For a child, a mother’s or father’s love and affection – even the lack thereof – will mold him into the person he will be in the future.

Giving What’s Best For The Child

The cognitive and social development of the child must remain the top priority. Hence, parents need to provide equitable access to education for the child with ASD. Finding an excellent learning environment benefits the child with ASD in the long run. 

Parents must choose a school with the right facilities, resources, and teaching methods. Various schools cater to the needs of families with special needs children. In these schools, there are programs offered that fit the specific needs of an individual.

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As much as it is a medical condition, families must support their child in finding proper treatment from professionals. Parents must seek medical guidance from health professionals such as clinical psychologists, therapists, and others, to monitor them.

Therapies and other forms of interventions aim to give the child with ASD a chance at living his or her best possible life. Support – financially, emotionally, even spiritually – will help yield better results. 

Parents, loved ones, even friends, must be advocates of children with autism. As the world is getting more complex and advanced, often the sick, marginalized, and oppressed, tend to get left behind. Therefore, as important as it is to create a warm abode for a child with ASD, it is also necessary to amplify advocacy to erase the stigma in society.

Advocacy may start in the classroom, the community, the church, and beyond. Awareness and acceptance are vital to foster a healing environment for everyone, especially those with disorders.

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, raising a child requires a tremendous amount of effort. Parents must strive to provide the best for them. More so, children with ASD will need the unconditional love, support, and sacrifice of parents – or even more.

Things Not To Say To An ADHD Child

The 2019 parenting seminar emphasizes that there is no right or wrong process for handling a child with ADHD. However, there are specific things that parents should consider. Managing a child with ADHD doesn’t follow a parental norm since it requires a significant amount of tolerance, understanding, and unconditional love. So here are the things parents should entirely try not to say to a child with ADHD.

“You’re Not Doing Anything Right”

There are instances when most parents will suddenly experience an emotional outburst. That is because there are moments that they will breakdown and won’t handle all the exhaustion of life. At times like this, it is vital not to throw any attention on an ADHD child for the fact that parents will soon begin to see several faults.

 

“Why Can’t You Listen?”

Honestly, it is not that an ADHD child intentionally tries not to listen. The thing is, the kid sometimes can’t focus, and parents should always remember that. A child with a mental disability cannot easily comprehend some instructions. That is why the child needs his or her parents to be patient and more understanding.

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“You Will Never Learn”

For most parents who are experiencing negative emotions, they sometimes cannot control their anger will soon lose compassion for their child. In unfortunate instances, these parents begin to lose confidence in everything their child does. With that, they pay less and less attention to the child’s capabilities.

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“You Don’t Need To Try Harder.”

Wrong! The more parents try to make their child feel incapable, the more the kid will suffer from emotional distress. The child will think that he will never be good enough because his parents cannot encourage him. Even a child with ADHD must understand that achieving great things in life requires hard work.

Why Quarantine Isn’t Too Bad For Autism Kids

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“The quarantine is not a walk in the park for adults and children alike.” That’s what the other moms in my circle of friends have been telling me ever since we have all been ordered to stay at home last March.

At first, the children were excited about the prospect of not going to school earlier than expected. They even showed interest in the online classes that the teachers organized for them. However, it eventually sunk in their minds that they could no longer go on play dates, swim with friends, or at least visit the local park. When they could have fun outdoors again, it would depend on when the experts could find a cure or vaccine for the coronavirus.

Of course, this new reality saddens me, too. I can sympathize with those kids and parents whose spring and summer plans have been ruined by the pandemic. Despite that, my son is not as profoundly affected as them.

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Perhaps it is because he is in the autism spectrum, which entails that he perceives situations differently from others. Although we do not leave the house for weeks on end, I don’t hear him complaining about it. My son is happy as long as he can play with toys.

If I can be more honest than that, I must admit that the quarantine may not be too bad for kids with autism.

They Have Little Things To Do At Home

My son transitioned to regular school from SPED last year. My husband and I were glad about it, but my child seemed to have a tough time coping with his new school and classmates. There was also a lot of homework and quizzes, which were dizzying for him.

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Now, because of the quarantine, my son needs to attend classes online. But unlike before, his assignments come far in between. The teachers cannot give group projects to the students, either. Thus, my son no longer feels rushed to handle schoolwork.

They Don’t Need To Get Out Of Comfort Zone All The Time

Most kids with autism have trouble letting people in their lives, and my son is not exempted from it. In truth, that’s how we found out several years ago that he has autism. While the kids were running around or singing along with the class, he would stay in his seat and not pay attention to anyone else.

Since then my little boy has gotten used to getting out of his comfort zone, but I can tell he feels exhausted from it sometimes. Thankfully, he can take a break from that until the next school year.

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They Don’t Get Bombarded With COVID-19 Updates

Furthermore, it is ideal for my autistic child to be at home these days because he cannot get bombarded with COVID-19 updates. That typically happens at school when the teachers and other kids gossip about what’s happening in and out of the country. If the classes continued regularly, it might be too overwhelming for my son.

Meanwhile, since my child gets homeschooled, I can relay information to him little by little. This way, he can understand why the coronavirus exists and how we can all avoid catching it.

Final Thoughts

Although the quarantine seems favorable for my child’s case, it does not mean that I don’t wish for the coronavirus to go away. I merely intend to look for the positive effects of this order to our family, and it turns out that it has done us a few good things. After all, if you keep on being cynical about it, you may not be able to use this opportunity to bond with your loved ones.

My Son Has Low Functioning Autism, What Now?

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Having a child with autism can be very challenging, and it is even more so when he is in the low functioning end of the spectrum. People who are diagnosed with Level 3 Autism, like my son, will require all the support, love, and understanding that he can get from our family and me. The symptoms of his autism are very evident, and at most times, it affects his daily functioning. He has struggles being social, and have issues communicating both verbally and nonverbally. Because of this, his behavior can also be rigid.

But I didn’t lose hope. I know for a fact that there treatment programs available for my son and other children with this disorder. This is the reason why early intervention is essential, and the immediate implementation of the program is necessary.

What Is Low Functioning Autism?

There is low functioning autism and high functioning autism. The difference between the two disorders is the behavior of the individuals challenged by it. People with low functioning autism cannot function properly in their daily lives because of their disorder. They will have problems expressing themselves, communicating with other people, being social, and they will also have issues in managing their behavior.

How Is Low Functioning Autism Diagnosed?

For experts and specialists, they can diagnose ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder during a child’s early childhood years. Some can even diagnose ASD during infancy. How do they do it?

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There are guidelines in determining if a child has ASD. This is also why most kindergarten schools all over the world have psychometricians who observe the behavior of their learners. If they see signs of the disorder in a child, they will inform the parents and recommend for them to see a neurodevelopmental pediatrician for a proper diagnosis on their child.

Children with ASD are delayed in these neurodevelopmental abilities such as talking or communication, self-soothing, cognitive skills, and more. They will not be able to function properly, and they need physical assistance most of the time. Also, children with low functioning ASD will most likely have a correlating condition like epilepsy, or Fragile X syndrome.

Fragile X Syndrome And Low Functioning ASD

Researchers believe that ASD is genetically predisposed, which is why it is sometimes diagnosed together with another genetic condition called Fragile X Syndrome. The latter is a condition wherein the development of a child, mostly his learning abilities, are gravely affected. He will have delay issues with his speech and reading. The child will also manifest anxiety, hyperactivity, and low impulse control. Studies show that a third of the kids with ASD are suffering from Fragile X Syndrome.

Epilepsy And Low Functioning ASD

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It was assessed by Dr. Patrick Bolton and his team the relationship between epilepsy and ASD. They observed that 22% of the children with low functioning autism ASD also have epilepsy. The kids were having seizures at least once a week or every two weeks by the time they were ten years old up until they were eleven. These seizures were controlled by medication, and girls were more prone to having it than boys.

There are so many things to know about low functioning ASD. Next week, another blog about the topic will be discussed. Until then, good luck! See you next week!

Don’t Be Offended When Your Child’s Teachers Tell You That Your Child May Have ASD

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I remember that very day, five years ago, when the neurodevelopmental pediatrician told me that my son has ASD. It was September 9, 2014, and after waiting three months for the appointment, the doctor confirmed the suspicions of my son’s teachers; he has Autism Spectrum Disorder. I didn’t believe his teachers before when they told me that my son was displaying symptoms of ASD. He was “normal” for me and acting like a regular, active, and playful child. What I failed to see was that he had a condition and that he needed help.

The teachers in Kindergarten were telling me before that he was too hyperactive. He was also inattentive in class according to his playschool teacher and lacked focus too. His Nursery teacher said to me last time that whenever someone passed by their classroom, he would leave his seat or whatever activity he did and go outside to follow the person who caught his attention. For them, this wasn’t normal behavior.

Back then, I asked them, “So, what is normal?” They said that while they are teachers for toddlers, they are not experts in clinically ascertaining neurodevelopment delays or special needs learners. What they have is a course on seeing the signs and symptoms of behavioral disorders in children, and that is all.

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The school psychometrician, who has more knowledge on these matters, evaluated my son, and she also told me the same thing. “Ms. Carter, I recommend that you send Michael to a neurodevelopmental pediatrician for proper assessment and testing. With my specialization and studies, I believe, he has a developmental condition. As to the extent of that condition, or the levels of what he has at the moment, I cannot be sure. A doctor in that field will be able to provide the soundest medical assessment and diagnosis of Michael.” She handed me a list. “Here are the best neurodevelopmental pediatricians in the state. If you need help with the scheduling of appointments with Dr. Smith, tell me. I may be able to squeeze in Michael for an earlier meeting. He is my cousin, and that is if you want to go with him to Michael’s testing.”

Of course, I went with Dr. Smith since everyone in the school recommended him. And yes, I asked help from the psychometrician for a schedule, and so, the appointment which was supposed to be in 4 months was lessened to 3 months. That’s how jam-packed neurodevelopmental pediatricians were in our state.

I don’t mind the doctor telling me that my son has this autism disorder or this hyperactive behavior. That’s not my point at all – I don’t care about that. He can be a super and extremely hyperactive or lacking focus during class. My son is my son, and I love him. I will support and care for him, as long as he needs me to do it for him; even more when he can’t function as well as he can in this world, like how his teachers were telling me back then. I am his mother, and I will do anything for him.

And so, my son was assessed and no surprises there, he has ASD and luckily, one of the high functioning ones. He just needed treatment, which I submitted my son to go for the past five years.

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Is he better now? I believe that he is because his OT has told me that next week will be his last therapy session. His symptoms are getting less since he knows how to cope and manage it on his own. Therapy is not anymore necessary with him at this point.

As a mother, I feel that I have done the right thing with him, and I will continue to have his back because that’s just how it is with our family.