By Ambika Chawla,
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterised by three broad categories of impairments, viz. reciprocal social interaction, patterns of communication, and restricted, repetitive and stereotyped behaviours.
The UN General Assembly has declared 2nd April as World Autism Awareness Day to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of those with autism so they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society. In fact, an Autistic Pride Day is observed every year on 18th June so that persons with autism can have a day to celebrate their identities demonstrating their ability to advocate for themselves. A significant aspect of the day is that it is run by people with autism themselves. Autistic Pride Day is represented by the rainbow infinity symbol to represent the diversity of people with autism and the infinite possibilities and variations within their community. The day is observed to shift the attitude away from society’s negative views towards acceptance.
Human Being is a social being and communication and socialization mediates their acceptance in society. Autism affects the ability of a person to communicate and socialize in the conventional form. Such deviation creates a gap and makes them vulnerable. The general lack of awareness amongst people arises from insensitivity and indifference towards their feelings. The feelings of rejection, neglect, or isolation are quite common with autism. They are viewed and judged through the biased lens of ableism because society gives higher importance to a certain collection of traits.
I would state here that not only the person itself but parents of a child with autism also suffer. They see their child going through all the discrimination of society and the resulting trauma they experience. What makes them more helpless is that they can’t do anything to improve their condition. Parents also go through caregiver burden as autism demands special attention. In the end, they struggle all through the clock to make their children acceptable in society.
Key tips for parents to take care of their child
- Learn as much as possible about autism spectrum disorder
- Provide consistent structure and routine
- Connect with other parents of children with autism
- Seek professional help for specific concerns
- Take time for yourself and other family members
- Learn from experts the ways to manage difficult behaviours
- Take help of visual aids
- Identify their reinforcers and apply them tactfully
- Create a home safety zone
- Look for non-verbal cues
- Identify their sensory sensitivity
Dos for parents
- Be supportive and patient
- Educate yourself more and more
- Use kind comprehensible language
- Be regular in the treatment plan
- Take professional help
Don’ts for parents
- Give multiple instructions
- Act out your anger
- Express emotions of your burden
- Personalize or feel guilty of the condition
- Don’t insist repetitively
Let’s contribute to a different world, one in which all neurotypes are celebrated for the rich diversity they contribute, just as we do with a variety of personalities. The world would be dull if we were all the same.
(The author is Clinical Psychologist, Kaleidoscope, a unit of Dr Bakshi’s Healthcare. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult health experts and medical professionals before starting any therapy or medication. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)