Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Autistic Child

Momma salutes the parents of children with disabilities, whether emotional or cognitive, these disabilities are a challenge.

Momma Explains: The child with disabilities faces challenges on a daily basis and supportive parents face parallel challenges as well. As a parent, educator, and scientist, I have been involved with many children who qualified in varied degrees as LD or ED. In my experience, one of the most complex situations involves the autistic child. I use the term autistic in the broad sense. Under this umbrella there exists other categories but generally many of the symptoms are similar . The average parent of an autistic child has had little background in autism and struggles understanding both their child and his/her needs. Frustration, confusion and exhaustion are responses that I have encountered in the autistic child as well as their parents. Luckily, there has been a raising of the collective consciousness in regards to autism. There are resources available online, in schools, and libraries. There are blog sites, forums, and pamphlets accessible to most. This allows more opportunities for a sharing of information as well as support. Two sites that I have found which have large coverage are : www. and www. From an empirical view, the children that have had behavioral therapy, both at home and outside the home, have shown very positive response and social improvement. A family member, who has a child with autism, often helps improve her child's emotional understanding by using the question, " How would you feel if...happened to you?" In this way the autistic child is better able to understand the emotional point of view. Autistic children have trouble "reading" the body language of those around them. Our autistic family member never allowed a normal distance between themselves and the person with whom they would communicate. The more the other person pulled back, the closer the autistic child pressed. At times it resulted in the neuro-normal child merely running away. This action, of course, did not teach the autistic child not to get too close to someones space. Instead, the autistic child gave chase. How difficult for both children, neither understood the intent of the other. In a situation such as this, it is crucial that a parent or behaviorist explains to both children the appropriate response or behavior. As much as there have been improvements in the understanding of autism, I have yet to see a system that teaches the neuro-normal child or adult the best way to respond to an inappropriate behavior exhibited by an autistic child or even adult. It is a shame there is not a system in place to do that. Even in the immersion classroom, the autistic child is isolated by his peers. Children need to be given the tools to communicate with each other, they need to be able to express emotions and understand the actions of their classmates. Children need to understand differences and disabilities, we all have them, some are just more challenging.

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