Are You Struggling To Understand And Support Your Autistic Child?
Do you know or suspect that your child may have some level of autism? Has your child received conflicting diagnoses, which are difficult to make sense of? Does your child exhibit real social awkwardness or engage in repetitive behavioral fixations? Are ongoing conflicts, frustrations and outbursts a part of daily life? Do basic routines and boundaries feel impossible to maintain? Does everything – even simple tasks – seem harder than it should? Are you worried about your child’s ability to function socially and have a normal life?
Children who fall somewhere on the autism spectrum tend to have behavioral problems, difficulties reading social cues and struggle to understand and communicate their emotional feelings. These challenges can lead to outbursts, ongoing conflicts and can make you feel anxious, confused and highly worried about your child. Although autism is on the rise and we have more tools to help our children, it’s still commonly misunderstood. It can be a highly frustrating experience to figure out how to best support your child. And, it’s common to grapple with how to foster your child’s development in a society that can feel depersonalized and too big.
Autism is More Common Than You Might Think
Autism encompasses a wide spectrum of behaviors and symptoms of varying degrees, which is why it’s not uncommon to receive conflicting diagnoses. However, as more research is completed, professionals are getting better at diagnosing children who fall within the spectrum.
The good news is that recent attention given to the autism spectrum has led to increased awareness, better research and earlier medical and therapeutic interventions in the treatment for autism. This has made a positive difference in how children on the autism spectrum are viewed, treated and supported.
Resources available for families of autistic children are also steadily increasing. There is better support in many school and communities. And, working with a therapist who is licensed and trained to work with autistic children can make a dramatic, positive impact in the lives of your child and family.
Therapy Can Be Very Effective
Your highly trained and experienced BPS therapist can offer you and your child help on many levels. As an expert, your therapist understands the range of normal and the autism spectrum and can relay that information to you and explain where your child falls within the spectrum. Oftentimes, receiving a thorough explanation during a confusing and frustrating time can provide some immediate relief and help guide future planning.
While autism is pervasive and ongoing, your child can learn ways to minimize the unwanted consequences of their special needs. Your therapist can help you with the day-to-day challenges, reduce obstacles, and develop more balance within your family. You’ll also learn to set realistic goals and the tactics needed to obtain them.
Your BPS therapist can also help you understand what things will look like for your child and your family in the future. You’ll create a plan and become equipped to manage the challenges that may occur over time.
It’s also important to note that the earlier the treatment, the more effective it can be. Children give (or don’t give) nonverbal cues as early as six months of age that can indicate that there may be something going on. Working with a therapist on the issues that come with autism can give you the advantage of being able to develop effective management strategies. Your therapist can also help you set and obtain realistic goals and have the support and guidance needed to alleviate stress and minimize conflict. Getting to better know and understand your child and their specific needs can be a positive and supported process.
While you and your child are going to have a different kind of journey, with help, it may be possible for your child to have a more normal life. There is no quick fix for autism, but with the right approach, strategies, tools and education, the journey can be a truly joyous one.
But you still may have questions or concerns…
I think that my child could really benefit from therapy and other outside resources, but I’m concerned about costs.
This is your child’s life and wellbeing. Addressing your child’s autism-related issues now may prevent a host of problems from occurring as he or she enters new developmental stages, such as adolescence. Investing in their mental and emotional health and ability to function socially now can provide immediate improvements. It can also keep the symptoms from getting worse and interfering with their social development as they get older.
Many people come to BPS having worked with other therapists who were not trained to work specifically with children’s autism spectrum issues or who they or their child couldn’t relate with – which is a waste of time and money. At BPS, we’ll conduct a referral assessment and match you with a therapist who is trained and experienced in the treatment of autism spectrum issues and whose personality is a good match for you and your child. Once you find that good match, making a commitment to your child, yourself and your family may be one of the most valuable investments there is. Imagine everyone in your home feeling and functioning better now and in the long-term on a regular basis and ask yourself what that’s worth.
If money still is an issue, you can talk with your BPS therapist to see if they work on a sliding scale. They may also be able to help you find other lower cost resources in the community, such as Imagine!, a local program that provides support, resources and funding specifically for children with autism.
I think that my child may fall within the autism spectrum, but I’m afraid of a diagnosis and the label that carries. I don’t want my child to be viewed as different.
First, it’s so important that you understand your child and his or her uniqueness. An expert can help you determine if your suspicion is correct – if your child’s behaviors fall outside of the range of normal and if he or she could really benefit from outside, expert help. It’s not the label, but the needs of your child that is the big issue here. If your child does fall within the autism spectrum, he or she will likely be impacted by the disorder to some degree for their entire life. Early intervention and identifying and addressing the issues that children with autism are affected by now can make a significant difference down the road. Developing skills and strategies and a plan early on can not only provide immediate relief for your family, but also set your child up for success as he or she gets older.
I feel like we’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m starting to think that nothing can help.
Your frustration is understandable and very normal. Unfortunately, for children who fall within the autism spectrum, there is not quick fix. It’s a journey. Thankfully, however, the right therapist can help alleviate a lot of frustration and offer critical and effective support and guidance. You and your child can get on the right track. The key is finding someone who really gets your child – who he or she can relate with and feels comfortable with. BPS is committed to helping you find that great match. And, you just need help figuring out what needs to be managed and how to do it. With the right intervention and approach, so many people have seen significant results and you can, too.
We encourage you to schedule an referral assessment with a BPS therapist, trained by BPS Director, Dr. Jan Hittelman. We will work with you to determine what your child’s specific issues are and to ensure a good match between you, your child and a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.
You can also check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you and your child with a therapist who has expertise working with children and autism spectrum issues.