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Autism Spectrum Disorders
What is Autism?
Autism is characterized by challenges in social interaction, communication, and repetitive interested and behaviors (an intense focus on a subject, stereotyped body movements like hand flapping and spinning, and usual sensitivity to everyday sounds and textures, and so on), and sensory sensitivities (Autism Spectrum Australia, 2015).
Research shows that rehabilitative services can favorably impact a child with autism by improving his or her ability to talk, walk, and interact with others (Autism Speaks, 2015). It is important to speak with your child’s physician soon to reduce the effects of possible delays in general motor and cognitive development. Moreover, while early intervention is important, treatment at any age can be helpful (Autism Spectrum Australia, 2015).
If you see the following early signs in your child, please don’t wait to contact your health care provider (Autism Speaks, 2015):
- No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by 6 months or thereafter
- No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by 9 months
- No babbling by 12 months
- No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
- No words by 16 months
- No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
- Any loss of speech, babbling or .... [Learn more here].
Calming Strategies for Children With Autism
Great Tools to Use For Transitioning Back to School
Children with autism are frequently overstimulated by lights, sounds and touch. They may become frustrated and overwhelmed when routines change. They may want to eat only certain foods and become agitated when that food isn’t available. As any parent of a child with autism will tell you, there are many different situations that could cause meltdowns, agitation or frustration. Calming a child with autism sometimes seems just part of the daily routine.
The following are strategies to help you calm your child:
Pressure Input: Applying deep pressure input through the muscles, joints, and skin provides children (and adults) with some of the safest and most effective calming inputs.
- Swadding or wrapping your child in blankets; wearing a body sock
- Pillow to nestle, wrestle, and cuddle in; use a variety of sizes and textures
- Weighted blankets; weighted or inflatable vestsor cuffs at wrists/ankles
- Wearing ace wraps on arms, legs, or trunk; wearing spandex undergarments or neoprene gloves, shorts, headbands, etc.
- Wedged into a squeeze machine
- Wedged into a barrel with pillows
- Roll a Swiss ball (gymnastic ball) over a person with careful pressure: For kids, we recommend . . . . [Learn more HERE]
Improving your Child with Autism's Sleeping Habits
Secondary to a variety of underlying difficulties your child with autism may have trouble winding down at night. One possibility is that their sensory system may be over alerted and because of this they may just not seem or feel tired for sleep. Things to try when this is the case could be similar to recommendations your child's occupational therapist has made in the past on their sensory diet.
Strategies that Work!
Suggestions for helping your child wind down could be:
- heavy work exercises prior to bedtime,
- using a weighted blanket or stuffed animal prior to bed time or while they fall asleep (20-30 minutes on then remove to prevent habituation),
- rolling your child up tight in a blanket or tucking them in tight with deep pressure,
- animal walks down the hallway after brushing teeth,
- bubble baths prior to bedtime with calming music,
- calming music or noises while in bed with a sound machine, deep pressure massage with lotion on your child's joints prior to bed, and
- using calming scents such as lavender or vanilla.
In Need of Additional Awesome-sauce?
Here are some other related blog articles here at Kinetic Kids that may be of interest to you:
- 10 Sensory Nutritional Hacks for Superhero Moms [Pediatric Occupational Therapy]
- How to Teach Children with Autism New Skills
- Effective Strategies for Children with ADHD [eBook]
- 5 Steps to Managing BIG Emotions [eBook]
- Yoga Can Help Kids With Autism, Obesity, or Anxiety [INFOGRAPHIC]
- How a Sensory Gym Benefits A Child's Development
Keep Reading You Amazing Parent You!! . . .
Keep Reading . . .
Another difficulty could be that your child has increased or heightened anxiety prior to or during night time causing them to stay awake or wake up in the middle of the night. Their night time anxiety may cause them to want to sleep in your bed, or you to be available to them near their bed so they can have assistance to calm. Strategies to use for a child . . . [Learn More HERE]
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