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Resources on how to deal with autism are slowly being developed, at least in urban India. Here is a compilation to help parents who’ve received a diagnosis of autism.
It can be heart-breaking to get a diagnosis of autism for your child. As a parent, although you will feel shock, anger, denial and grief, you need to overcome them and help your child discover life and its beauty.
One of the most complicated and least understood developmental disabilities, autism, is a result of a neurological disorder that interferes with the development of a child’s social interaction and communication skills. It may begin at birth and its symptoms might become noticeable within the first two to two-and-a-half years of a child’s life. Coping with an autistic child can be physically and emotionally straining. Here are a few tips to help you deal with autism:
We are often afraid of what we do not know or understand well. After the diagnosis, the dreams you have for your child will change and you will have to learn to view her in a whole new manner. Hence it becomes imperative for you – the parents – to know and thus understand more about parenting autistic children. At the same time it is important to observe your child closely and then apply the gained knowledge while dealing with her as autism is a spectrum disorder (ASD). Simply put, this means that it affects different people differently.
…autism is a spectrum disorder. Simply put, this means that it affects different people differently.
Action for Autism is a comprehensive website that could come to your aid. Not only is this website a storehouse of information on various aspects of the disorder, but it is also an inclusive resource listing relevant schools and organizations in various states. Action for autism is a non-profit society for autism in India. They welcome questions, suggestions and feedback in equal measure. The society also brings out a newsletter called Autism Network ‘that is a forum for expressing diverse opinions’.
Dealing with autism is an arduous journey. You will go through many emotions. There will be frustrating times as there will be rewarding moments with your precious child. Teaching kids with autism calls for much patience and hard work. Interacting with people who might be facing the same situation will bring you solace at times and at others, to simply share your story with them might prove cathartic. A lot of help is available online-
– Support groups: Many Indian parenting websites like India Parenting and Kid & Parent have dedicated discussion boards on the site. Websites like Parentree have groups devoted to parents of children with ASD.
– Social Media: There are many organisations trying to extend support to parents through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. On the Yahoo Group page of Autism India Network not only parents but students as well as professionals merge to discuss early interventions, approaches in managing and training children with autism and new breakthroughs in the field of ASD. Autism Mothers, a Facebook page, launched by the Autism File Magazine, is a ‘source of support and advice’. Swap strategies, ask questions, stay updated – being a member of a support group will stand you in good stead.
– Blogs: We all know that the experience of sharing a story is overwhelming. A blog is like a personal narrative. There are hundreds if not thousands of blogs that are heroic stories, journals of everyday struggles and joys or plain rants. You might find your efforts reflected in someone else’s story. Starting a blog is also a good idea to empty yourself of all doubts and worries. Who knows, you might knit a new family while being out there! Here, a mother shares her journey in her son’s world of autism and at You Can Be A Smile, a sibling writes from time to time about her teenage brother with autism.
There are many organisations doing commendable work all over the country. You can be a part of these by joining them as well as volunteering your time and services for them. Find an organization close to you and contribute.
…have some compassion for yourself. Do not berate yourself over lost tempers or raised voices.
Prayas, an initiative by the Autism Society of India, in collaboration with Spastics Society of Karnataka, is a computer and iPad training programme for people with ASD. A free online resource – Daksh – is offered where a process curriculum is followed to develop computer skills in such individuals. This add-on course can be used for teaching kids with autism at home or either in a centre based or a community based setup to strengthen their skills and potential.
In these modern times, technology is coming to our rescue in every sphere. Indian moms are increasingly becoming tech savvy but you also need to remember that technology is ever changing. Whereas today we have innovations like Avaz, an iPad application for teaching kids with autism English, soon we might have something better. It is important for you to explore and keep yourself updated with new innovations taking place in this field. A new device or a new technique might just be the key to finding the hidden potential of your child.
The road through autism is difficult but then parenting is fraught with many dangers and doubts. Besides everything else do remember to have some compassion for yourself. Do not berate yourself over lost tempers or raised voices. Your acceptance and willingness to arm yourself with knowledge is what will make the difference in the life of your child.
*Photo credit: Becky Wetherington (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
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