Importance of Love and Patience
Bringing up a child with autism requires a lot of love and patience. Impaired social interaction (NINDS), a hallmark feature of a child with an autism spectrum disorder, can affect the quality of communication. A child with autism has difficulties with conveyed meanings through speech and non-verbal language, such as body language and facial expressions. This can make communication difficult because the child does not understand the need to reciprocate, as it is not easy to work out another person's intentions. As a result, the relationship between the parents and child can appear very one-sided. These problems of communication are caused by a real lack of social understanding.
Although autism can be exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally because of the many layers and complexity of the condition, it is important that parents find ways to connect with their child in a meaningful way. Love and patience is needed. Fortunately, there are many ways to show these attributes through words and actions. In order to find more ways to connect, parents can:
- educate themselves about autism to gain knowledge and understanding,
- modify their approach,
- give their child plenty of praise and positivity,
- be patient and loving, and
- accept their child as he or she is.
The first step is to find out as much as possible about autism from professionals, autism organizations, support groups, and by reading as much literature as possible to gain knowledge and understanding.
The social world can be a frightening and chaotic place for your child with autism. Your child needs order, structure, and predictability to feel safe and secure, more so than a more straightforward child. He cannot predict people in the same way as others because of difficulties understanding the emotional world and states of mind of others, such as intentions. To help him adjust, approaches can be modified by giving your child clear instructions and communicating in a direct, concrete way. Inform your child of any potential changes to come as disruptions in routines can be very unsettling. Get to his level because he can't get to yours; build a bridge and try to close the gap. It takes a lot of hard work and patience to connect to his world but it can be done.
Verbal praise has a positive effect. Show encouragement and support for all the good things your child does as this helps to build self-esteem and create a more positive environment. Although it can be very hard to stay calm and not lose patience when dealing with behaviors such as tantrums, and other difficult or demanding behavior, always try to focus on the good; a child reacts well to positivity.
Be patient and view any setbacks as part of the learning and growing process. With a lack of reciprocity, relationships can feel all too one-sided, but it is important not to lose sight of the fact that so much of what your child does or does not do is not deliberate, and is because of the way his brain functions. There will be times when your child will have setbacks as he can regress when stressed. Unconditional love and patience can replace frustration.
Similarly, parents and caregivers should come to the realisation that the child needs to be loved and accepted on his own terms because he cannot adjust so well in many environments. Your child is still an individual first with his own personality and unique way of being. With love, patience, kindness and acceptance, parents come to see the beautiful soul that is there within the child despite any limitations of his mind. By having belief in your child and working to build bridges, you will help to bring out the best in him.
National Institute of Mental Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). (n.d.). Ninds.nih.gov: Autism fact sheet: What is autism? Retrieved April 28 2011, from: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm
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