How To Show Love To an Autistic Child
One of the most pervasive myths that surround autism is that a child who has it will never show affection and can’t accept getting affection from anyone. There have been literally piles of stories of parents taking their child to a psychologist and the doctor telling the parents that your child can’t possibly be autistic because he gives you a hug now and then.
While this opinion is just
flat wrong, studies have shown that autistic children do process sensory touch
differently than a non-autistic child and that this is where the myth that
autistic children don’t like to be touched comes from.
Autism and the way it affects kids really runs the gamut from light to severe.
An excellent point to remember when dealing with an autistic child is that every
single autistic child is different and will react to almost everything
differently. Here are some tips for showing your autistic child affection, and
remember, your experience may vary.
Trial and error. For some kids with more severe autism, a simple, random hug can
be sensory overload. They can become agitated, upset and even violent if they
are touched without prior warning. You will probably need to have a trial and
error approach when it comes to hugging and touching your autistic child. Some
methods may be responded to in a positive way, other ways won’t be. You just
have to try and see.
Let the child come to you. If you think your autistic child needs a hug, instead
of rushing into his personal space and just taking one, speak to the child, bend
down to his/her level and open your arms. Smile and let the child know that they
are loved and see what the response is. If they don’t come running in for a hug,
don’t be offended, it may just not have been the right time for the child.
Try hand signals. If your child is too sensitive to hugs or touches to show
affection, you can try positive reinforcement in addition to hand singles.
Things like a simple thumbs up accompanied by a smile and some positive comments
can let the child know they are loved and what they did was good. You can also
offer the child a chance to hug during these situations and they might just take
you up on it.
Make sure everyone is on the same page. If you, the parents, are starting to
make progress on getting your autistic child to be more affectionate, you don’t
need a sibling, teacher or grandparent who doesn’t know or understand your
child’s boundaries messing up all of your hard work. If you’ve begun to
implement an affection program with your autistic child, make sure everyone who
would possibly try to hug or touch him/her knows the rules. Consistency and
repetition are crucial to autistic kids, and this applies to a situation like
this, as well.
Trying to figure out a puzzling condition like autism can be a lifelong
challenge. For many parents, the affection issue may be the biggest. But with
patience and learning to go by the child’s cues and not your own, you will be
able to connect with your child in a deep and meaningful way.
There are many more resources and information about diagnosing, controlling and
treating Autism in, The
Essential Guide To Autism
Autism And Sensory Integration
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