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An Illustrated Guide to Nurturing Autistic Individuals
My Background (And A Disclaimer)
Many of you must have thought "Why is an autistic person giving out advice on how to handle autistic people?" Yes, I knew what you've thought. Note that I'm merely an autistic person, not a doctor, so my opinions on this subject may be biased.
Facts, Figures and the Way Autistic People are Being Treated
As I've stated in my Five Signs That Your Child May be Autistic article, the current autism prevalence is 1 in 45. That is because there's more research, and more research means much earlier and better diagnoses of autistic Individuals. In the past, autistic people would be treated like mental illness patients. Now, with cutting-edge technology and the latest medical advancements, Autistic people have been given a second chance at life.
Handling autistic individuals is hard work. Here's some tips on how you can handle autistic individuals.
Don't Let Said Individual Cause Harm to Himself/Herself or Others.
If you see an autistic person cause self-bodily harm, then please stop the person as soon as possible and restrain the person. Anything from biting, scratching, hitting, or stabbing himself/herself is strictly prohibited. The best kind of advice I can give you is don't let the autistic person grab a knife, a dish, glass, or anything used to hurt an individual. Instead, use plastic spoons, forks, and knives, as well as a plastic bowl to make sure that the person is safe.
As for others, if he/she causes harm to other people, then find other people and restrain the person. Again, biting, scratching, hitting, or stabbing is not permitted. The best thing to do is to get the autistic person away from people when this occurs. For less severe autistic people, remind him/her that is he/she messes with others, the person may be restrained.
Avoid Autistic Meltdown
Meltdowns can vary from tantrums in the most mild of cases to an all-out verbal assault, property destruction, personal embarrassment and hitting of essential staff. If you find an autistic person you're caring for in meltdown mode, here's what you should do. This Site By Autism Speaks shows you how to prevent meltdowns.
First, you should Role-Play by going in a library or store. There, you can be a warrior, a knight, a magician, or anything you want to be, but you have to get your kid (if he/she is younger than 8) to do it too. Practice role-playing as often as you'd like. If your child resists, then give him a toy and play with him/her. At the end of the day, reward your child with good behavior by giving him/her a snack or a toy.
Additionally, you can also calm your child or adult with relaxation music. I suggest you put it at 60 BPM (Beats Per Minute, which is the average resting rate of an average adult human heart) for maximum effectiveness. As you can see in the video below, this therapist blows bubbles and uses relaxation techniques to calm the autistic girl.
Therapist Calming Autistic Child
Avoid the "What is that person doing?" Stare
I've been through that stare before. It's what happens when I do my emotional thing. If the same thing happens to the autistic person, here's what you must do. First, tell the person that he/she is autistic. That what my mom tells other people when I do my sensory thing. If they say "it's ok," then continue on. If they stare, though, then here's what you must do.
First, tell them it's not OK to stare at an autistic person. If the stares turns to snickers, then tell them to leave him/her alone. If it turns into laughter, the best thing you can do to avoid any problems is to away with the autistic kid as soon as possible and get away from the area. Drive away, then call 911 and tell them that people have laughed at the autistic kid. More than likely, It will result in the discipline of every person who has been laughing at the autistic person.
Play Games with them.
If you have board games such as Monopoly, Trouble, and many others, then play with your autistic peers. In the most severe autistic cases, they may not be able to understand the rules of the game because they may appear deaf and not function. In lesser cases, though, playing with them can be a fun and exciting time. Try to tell them the rules of the game.
If you have Uno, then tell them the rules of the game as well. Teach them the basics of the game, such as when to say "Uno" and the types of cards the card game has. Go Fish is in the same class as Uno, only instead of winning when they say "Uno Out," they win when they collect the most sets of the same card. You have to engage your autistic peers to play these games.
Start Speech Therapy At An Early Age
Speech therapy are the most important piece of lesson plan that any parent or caregiver can give to any autistic child, especially if their brains are still developing. Flash cards are the most important piece of information to give to any autistic child, because it can mean the difference between an autistic adult talking a lot at the age of 20 and a nonverbal autistic adult.
Start with the letters of the alphabet or numbers, as most people on the Autism Spectrum use numbers, letters, and symbols to convey ideas. For some people, it takes hours to fully learn the letters of the alphabet. My mom would always tell people I learned the letters and numbers in one day, and I would say "Impossible." For many others, it takes weeks, months, years, or they never make it to speaking at all.
Speech lessons go beyond school. You can also do it at home. You can teach autistic people how to talk when they're in the house with flash cards. Flash cards, along with a pen, are important because of the words you put into them.
Teach Them Basic Skills
Basic skills, such as writing, grammar and socializing with others, is key in these types of situations. Writing and grammar are likely major problems, because usually it is their weakest areas. Socializing with others are likely a more challenging issue because people on the autism spectrum aren't able to communicate with each other. It is those areas where autistic people tend to struggle the most.
What you can do about that is to start teaching them how to write. First write a letter, any letter, but make sure you make the letter traceable so that autistic children can see the letter. Then write any number, also making them traceable. Then, write a traceable word so that he/she can see it.
As for grammar, make sure you give them grammar lessons as well, specifically from an expert, as grammar is another one of the weaknesses of an autistic child. Make sure they say and write the words correctly. If that child succeeds, then give yourself a pat on the back for now.
As for communication, you may face some difficulty with that. You have to teach them communication skills in order for them to survive without the need for a communication therapist. Most autistic people who break that barrier tend to have mild success with communicating with people. Most of the time, they simply hide from other people, as they fear that they could get ridiculed. Try to encourage them to talk to you.
Get Them Out of Their Routine
Routines are probably the most important, because it means that they are doing their own thing. My routine, since I was 12 years old, is to go into a computer and do my stuff there. When I got my computer on December 2006, I was happy. Other routines are, such as, but are not limited to, washing clothes, organizing rooms, washing every dish, being on the computer, and others. Sometimes, you just want them to get out of their routine. I understand.
The best thing to do is convince them to go out of their routines. If they say yes, then go someplace else, like the beach (if you live near the coast), the mountains (if you live near the mountains), a pool (if there's a private or community pool nearby), or a restaurant (if there's one nearby).
If their routine is the computer, avoid computer stores. If you go to a computer store, then set a limit on how much time they should spend on the computer. If their routine is washing clothes, do the same thing. In fact, do the same thing for all of their routines.
Remove them from their routines
Start at an early age
Go to other locations
Give them a relaxed environment. Bright colors may not be the wisest choice.
Don't get discouraged if they don't succeed
Find something for your autistic peer to do
Set the Music to 60 Beats Per Minute. This ensures them that they'll be relaxed when they calm down
Keep trying your hardest. If all else fails, go see a speech therapist
Don't let them stay past their limit
Stimulate your autistic child's senses (hearing, taste, touch, smell, sight) by showing them flash cards for each of the five senses.
So, to summarize it all up, here's a few of the tips to consider.
- Don't let the autistic kid have a meltdown. Prevent it from happening by using relaxation music
- Get them out of their routines. The More routines you can get them out of, the better.
- Always be aware of people who discriminate against autism that say "autistic people are stupid and can only make noise" because they're just degenerate bullies who are not as aware of autism as some people are. It takes very special people to understand autism.
- Some People with Autism Spectrum Disorder are very smart, like myself. Many autistic people are nonverbal. Only a handful of autistic people are able to communicate at a moderate level. Fewer still have been able to communicate at an advanced level, like myself.
If you've met one individual with autism, you've met one individual with autism.— Stephen M. Shore
This quote I found comes directly from an autistic person who's met another person with autism. It also comes from The Autism Speaks's 10 Inspiring Quotes From People With Autism Page.
Meet Dr. Temple Grandin, a cow herder and Professor at Colorado state university. She was diagnosed with autism at a time when autism wasn't even recognized yet, so they sent her to a boarding school at a young age. At the age of 18, she graduated high school and started to excel in college. When she was in her 20s, she saw animals getting slaughtered, and she started to react badly. That's what prompted her to protect all animals at all times.
In the 2000s, she was a cow herder. That's why they call her "The woman that thinks like a cow."
In closing, I would like to say that autistic individuals are very complex and can be smart. They need to start speech therapy at an early age. They need to be diagnosed by a doctor as early as possible. And please stay away from any people who might tease your autistic child/peer/client into a fight, because they are degenerates. Lastly, please keep your autistic peer/client/child safe.
Autism Speaks, how to avoid a meltdown