Autism, also known as ASD or Autism spectrum disorder is a condition that is linked with an array of challenges, including communication problems, developmental delays, lack of social skills, and behavioral problems.
Though every child needs special attention, children with autism do need more focused and regular engagement, by their parents, teachers, caregivers, or others around them. (1) Children with autism deserve to be kindly treated and loved for who they are.
It could be hard to raise a child with autism, but knowing certain things can help the caregivers, parents, teachers, and other elders around them. While being with children having autism, you should remember specific things and never do with them. Below we will talk about what not to do with a child with autism. If you want to bring some difference in raising a child with autism, then do read further and take a positive step ahead.
What Not To Do With An Autistic Child?
Do Not Change Their Routine Suddenly
Sudden changes in their routine can lead to autism meltdowns, and they could start yelling after the sudden changes in routine due to the meltdown.
Be ready to compromise for their needs, but never force them to compromise their needs for your wanting. For instance, if you have a party and it is already getting late at night, and you have a sleep routine with your child, then be prepared to leave the party an hour earlier so that you can spend the sleep time routine properly with your child without breaking the schedule or routine.
Do Not Give Them Complicated Tasks
Make sure you are being specific, and direct while giving them any task. Also, do not give them complicated tasks or order them indirectly, instead focus on what you want them to do.
For example, instead of saying, “The homework is pending”, say, “Let us do the homework”.
Also, make sure that while talking to them you are not speaking to them like a toddler, simply talk like a person, be clear and be precise.
Do Not Assume That They Cannot Communicate
One of the greatest mistakes we do with children with autism is that we assume that they cannot communicate. All children with autism can communicate. However, some children might find it easier to communicate by writing or by other forms of communication instead of talking (verbal communication). So, when you are engaged with a child with autism, make sure not to assume that they cannot communicate.
Do Not Leave Them Unattended Too Long
Do not leave them unattended for long. Keep supervising them so that they are not left completely on their own.
However, it must be known that as children with autism grow older, they will need more independence and not much of your presence. So, let them have their privacy. Do not place cameras in their rooms. Just try to spend quality time with them when they need your presence.
Do Not Give Them Foods With Artificial Ingredients, Dairy Products, Or Sugar
One of the most important considerations that one must remember while attending to a child with autism is not to give them foods with artificial ingredients, dairy products, or sugar.
A study conducted in 2019 has suggested that the spike in autism might be linked to the preservatives present in processed foods. (2) Other research suggests that there can be a possible link between symptoms of autism and artificial ingredients found in the foods. So, do not give autistic child food with artificial colors, flavorings, preservatives, and even artificial sweeteners.
Another problematic food for children with autism could be dairy and dairy products. This is because dairy is one of the most inflammatory foods in the Standard America Diet.
As per some evidence, including a study of 2018 published in “Pharmaceuticals”, it has been found that inflammation is associated with autism and is also linked commonly to the dysfunctioning of the immune system. (3) So, you should avoid giving dairy products to a child with autism.
Again, sugar is another substance that should not be given to children with autism. Sugar is pro-inflammatory and it also increases erratic brain cell firing. Moreover, it is extremely addictive. Apart from this, research published in ‘Frontiers in Endocrinology” has found that people with Autism, have impaired glucose tolerance and hyperinsulinemia( a condition of excessive levels of insulin).(4) So, eating excess sugar can magnify improper insulin signaling.
Do Not Yell At Them
You could lose patience while involved with a child with autism. However, you should not yell at them as this would exacerbate the situation. Yelling at a child with autism has an adverse effect and can add to their distress. You should speak calmly with them and that would have a greater impact.
Do Not Force Them To Eat The Food They Dislike
Respect their likes and dislikes when it comes to the food that they eat. Do not force them to eat anything that they dislike. Also, let them eat their food in their way, even if it looks inappropriate as per societal norms. This way, they will eat their food. Slowly, you can teach them table manners in a fun way.
Do Not Force Them To Make An Eye Contact
Sometimes children with autism might find it difficult to make eye contact. So, do not force them to make eye contact if they do not like it. You can teach them to look at the forehead if they feel okay with it. Slowly, the process of making eye contact can be taught, but not with force.
Do Not Use One Learning Methodology
There is no one specific method to learn for children with autism. Usually, autistic children learn well with multi-sensory lessons that allow them to feel, smell, see, and explore. For example, if you are teaching them about farm animals, take them to a farm and let them see the animals in real.
Read out books to them, give them write-ups using scented markers, and let them be involved with writings and readings that include more pictures. The learning techniques should be attractive and include various sensory lessons.
Do Not Treat Them Less As They Have Autism
Every one of us has some limitations. The same is with children who have autism. They have weaknesses, however, they also have their strengths. You should never treat them less as they have autism. Because they too have the same needs and rights as any other child. So, treat them equally.
Remember, we as a society are meant to build each other.
Do Not Try To Discipline Them When They Are Struggling
You should never try to discipline a child with autism or try to have difficult conversations with them when they are struggling to manage in any particular situation or place. Let them calm down slowly. Be patient, and help them come out of the difficult situation. Do not try to lecture them about how to behave or how to be a well-mannered child, especially when they are struggling with their emotion in any particular situation, event, or place.
Do Not Act As If Their Identity Is Strictly Autism
“Autism does not define a person.” Autism is a condition that they have, not who they are. You should never act as if their only identity is strictly autism. This is because autism could be a part of them, but not the whole of what they are. Do not just treat them as autistic, do not miss out on many other beautiful things that make them who they are.
Do Not Ignore Their Opinions Because They Have Autism
Just like others children with autism also need to be heard. Their opinions and thoughts also matter. So, when you are with an autistic child, do not ignore their opinions as it would demoralize them and make them feel less important.
Do Not Post Their Videos In Emotional Distress
No one likes to be seen themselves when they are having a meltdown. So, never post videos of a child with autism when they are in emotional distress. This is not educational and can make them feel low.
Do Not Stop Believing In Them
One of the most important things that can make your bond with an autistic child stronger, is when you do not stop believing in them. You should never give up on a child with autism if you are meant to be their caregiver or well-wisher.
Taking care of a child with autism can be hard. But it is harder for the child to live in a world among others. So, you should understand them and their needs, and love and support them for who they are. You can add what you think suits best for your child with autism, however, you can always avoid some general guidelines that should not be done with children with autism. After all, the main intention should be to give the best possible support to them.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, you should reach out for support, whether from other people in the family, friends or from local organizations that offer services to special needs children. (5)