Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex range of conditions that have effects on a child’s development. It is a spectrum disorder, which means a diagnosis of it appears different from person to person. Severity can vary greatly, thus, childcare needs to be highly tailored to the individual. Child care programs should be developed according to a child with autism’s needs and the severity of the disorder.
Even it is very important to provide appropriate care for the normally developed child, it is very essential for a child with autism. Recognizing symptoms is the first step in leading to appropriate childcare. In this article, I will try to clarify what kind of child care should be given to children with autism and what kind of needs they have.
If you are a parent of child on the autism spectrum, you need to help your child in order to overcome challenges and struggles, especially in daily routine. When the parents are looking after a child with autism, taking care of themselves is not a luxury or act of selfishness. It is a necessity. Being emotionally strong allows the parents to be the best one that they can be to their child in need.
Parents Should Help Their Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder Thrive
1. Provide Structure and Safety
As a parent, you should participate in the treatment process in order to make your children on the autism feel that they are not alone. There are some hints you can use. These hints can help to make home routines and daily life easier for both your child and yourself. For example, being consistent, sticking to a schedule, rewarding good behavior and creating a home safety zone could be beneficial.
Consistency is very important while living with children with autism. Parents should always keep that in their minds. Children on the spectrum have difficulties in applying what they have learned in one setting to other settings. For instance, let’s say your child learn how to communicate with sign language at home, however, never use it at school. That is why creating consistency in the environment where child lives is the best way to reinforce learning. Therefore, it is important also to deal with challenging behaviors.
As we all know, people on the autism love routines, highly structured and struck routines sometimes. So, parents also need to be stick to the schedule for their child with autism. Parents should prepare a schedule for their child with regular and certain times for meals, school, bedtime, and therapy.
Obviously, they should try to keep disruptions this schedule to a minimum. If they think that there is an unavoidable schedule change, parents should prepare the child for this unexpected in advance.
Parents have to know that how they can reward good behaviors. Children with autism should be rewarded when they act appropriately or they learn a new skill. Parents should be very specific about what behavior the child is being praised for. In addition to this, look for others was to reward the child for good behavior. For example; parents give them a sticker or let them play with a favorite toy.
Creating a safety zone at home is a very important point. Parents should create a space at home where the child can relax, feel comfortable and safe and be safe. This process will involve organizing and setting boundaries in ways the child can understand. While setting boundaries, colored tape marking areas or pictures to labeling items would be useful.
2. Finding Nonverbal Ways in Order to Connect with Child with Autism
It is a very challenging task to connect with a child with autism. Verbal communication is not necessary to create a bond or to establish communication with them. Instead, parents can do that nonverbally such as by the tone of voice, body language, and gestures. Even the way they touch the child could be communication.
Sometimes the child is communicating even he or she never speaks, so for understanding, parents need to learn the language that the child use. It could be verbal or nonverbal, even a look could be the way they express themselves. For doing this, parents should follow their children’s behaviors. You can look for nonverbal cues, try to understand motivation behind the tantrum, creat time for entertaining and pay attention to a child’s sensory sensitivities.
Nonverbal cues are a very essential tool to connect with a child with autism. If the parents are sufficiently aware, they can learn nonverbal cues that the child use very quickly. In order to be aware, they need to pay attention to sounds the child makes, facial expression, gestures and body language in specific situations.
Parents should keep in mind that even the child has autism, he or she is still a child. Thus, you have to able to make time for fun with them. Both parents and children, there need to be more to life than therapy. Parents should figure out ways in order to have fun together.
There are huge benefits that result from the parent’s enjoyment of the child’s company and from the child’s enjoyment of spending great and not controlled time with parents.
Sensory sensitivities are needed to pay attention from parents. Because whereas many children with autism are hypersensitive to sensory stimuli, some children with autism are under-sensitive to sensory stimuli. That’s why parents should figure out what kind of stimuli trigger the child. This part is also important for parents because if they understand what affects the child, it would be easier to handle and to prevent.
3. Creating an Individualized Autism Treatment Plan
It can be difficult to find out which treatment method is right for the child because it is a spectrum disorder and every child is different from each other. Further to that, there are some different treatment methods available to them. Parents should keep in mind that there is no single treatment that works for everyone. Each one is unique with different strengths, weaknesses, and challenges.
Parents should tailor the child’s treatment plan according to a child’s individual needs. Parents can do that by asking themselves some questions. For example; what are the child’s strengths and weaknesses?, what behaviors are causing the most problems?, how does the child learn best for example through seeing, listening or doing?
Other than those, parents should keep in mind that no matter what treatment plan is chosen or created, parents’ involvement is vital to success. Parents should work hand-in-hand with the treatment team. This is why parents’ well-being is essential as well as the child’s.
Parents Should Help to Child Care Providers to Give Sufficient Help to Child with Autism
Therefore, child care providers are a very good idea to help both parents and children. Many parents of a child with autism are responsible and give the child care providers detailed advice. However, sometimes parents expect that child care providers already know everything about the disorder itself and even everything about their child.
Because of this reason, parents may only give them the basics that child care providers may not understand. There are some tips that make it easier to provide care for anyone on the autism spectrum. They should ask the parents and should know before starting to provide childcare.
1. What are the signs should be needed to know that the child is upset, angry, nervous or heading for meltdown?
Communication challenges are one of the core symptoms of autism. Many individuals with autism cannot communicate that they are becoming uncomfortable through words. Instead, their behaviors will tell that they need help calming down. Some of them begin humming, pacing the floor, headbanging or acting unusual. That’s why child care providers should ask parents if there are any behaviors should be watched for. And also, they should ask what to do while seeing those kinds of behaviors.
A lot of parents have a space set aside as a calm down of quite a space for when their child becomes upset, angry or starts moving toward meltdown. It is very important to know that this place is only used for calming down and should never be associated with punishment. So, if the parents have this kind of methods, then childcare providers also can use and should use.
2. Understand therapy equipment
If you have a child with autism, you have to get used to unusual products. It is completely fine if you don’t know or don’t understand how to use it. Because it is not something that you are familiar with. So, you need to ask. You need to know more or less everything about therapy equipment. You need to know which one works with which one with the best combination. Because let’s say apart from parents, there is another one in the house to provide care, parents should explain in order to make them calm which equipment is needed to use.
3. Playing with children with autism
Child care providers should find out from the parents what kind of sensory exploration the child enjoys. Because they love to explore certain senses. On the other hand, they also hate some sensory stimulations too, even they can have tantrums in those situations.
It is important to keep in mind you have to behave according to the children’s developmental age rather than actual age while playing with children with autism. Because many of them may have significant social delays. They could be way behind their peers. Childcare providers are keeping the child engaged in the world and helping them to develop essential skills during a play.
4. Keeping an eye on behavioral changes and trying to track those changes
Watching the behavior of the child with autism is the main thing while interacting and playing with them. Care providers should write down certain behaviors, what happened just before the child starts exhibiting the behavior and what the childcare providers did to help prevent it from getting worse or in general they did what. Tracking behavior can help them.
It is very important to keep in mind that even they have autism they are still kids. They often are curious, love to have fun and can be smart. Child care providers or parents do not hold any assumptions because spending time with them can be incredibly rewarding and they will surprise the child care providers, parents or even professionals with what they can do, just like normally developed children do. That’s why keeping notes of what works and what does not work could be beneficial for them.
The Best Ways to Take Care of a Child with Autism
- Parents and child care providers should improve themselves. They should talk to other people who have individuals with autism around them. They should read books about autism. They should consult with psychologists, psychiatrists, and teachers.
- Parents and child care providers should receive help as quickly as they can. Early intervention can give their child with autism a chance to fulfill their potential qualifications.
- A child with autism receives a lot of therapy after starting the early intervention program. It is very important to apply the same therapy at home, to provide consistency to the child and to teach that the behaviors learned should be used everywhere.
- Parents and child care providers should make objective measurements to find out if the child is really developing. If a therapy is not working, this is very important as it must intervene immediately and find the treatment that is effective for the child.
- Creating a daily schedule that the child can adjust will also help. Fixed time schedules should be arranged for therapy, school, meals, and bedtime. If the calendar needs to be changed, the child with autism should be notified of this change in advance. So that they can prepare themselves.
- Motivation is a strong effect. Rewarding good behavior can make it stronger. In order to use motivation effectively to change behavior, the appropriate reward must be continuously diversified, analyzed and adjusted. No matter how small, parents or child care providers should praise every new skill.
- Areas should be created where the child with autism can feel comfortable and feel safe. Use the visual cues that the child can identify, it will help people around them use the colored tape in determining the boundaries. If the child is harmed or injured, parents and child care providers should make sure that they secure their home and places.
- Parents should find someone who can provide daycare for their children. Due to the extra care required by children with autism, daily care is considered a fundamental need to help maintain the family situation. Families with children with autism who use daily care report less stress than those who do not do this.
The Person Who Provides Child Care to the Child with Autism
Autism is mentioned as a type of disorder because it lasts for life. Children with autism should be treated with greater care and attention than normally developed children. If there are no parents to take care of the child, there should be another person like a nanny to take care of them. Children with autism should have the necessary training and experience in dealing with this health problem.
There is no eye contact or short-term or fixed and penetrating gaze. They do not have any social interactions with other people or interact without familiar and foreign. Therefore, it is not easy to communicate with a child with autism. The child care providers with autism should be patient, tolerant, caring and positive.
Sometimes, children with autism behave as if they treat their family or child care providers with foreign people. It is seen that they do not know their families or responds with joy. They do not want to be handled by someone. Therefore, it is very important for the child to trust and care for their child care providers.
Children with autism do not share their enthusiasm, accomplishments or things that are good to them with people. For this reason, there is a big task and responsibility for their child care providers to guide them.
The child care provider should always be in contact with the parent. While the parents are not at home, the caregiver should frequently inform parents about the child’s condition. Children with autism do not always describe the facts, so there should be no trust issues between parents and caregivers.
The fact that the child’s child care providers with autism are educated and experienced, working with such a child care provider for the child and his / her family with autism will provide a great convenience in overcoming the difficulties.
Before hiring, parents should control carefully and in detail about references of care providers. If there is any hesitation, do not hire that provider. They can reach out and talk with other families with autism through, for example, social media groups or local support groups and they can ask for recommendations.
Choosing a Child Care Provider for the Child with Autism
There are some useful questions that parents can use when interviewing child care providers.
- Is there any experience caring for a child with special needs, especially child with autism?
- Can she change a diaper?
- Can she prepare a meal appropriate for the child’s diet?
- Is she comfortable getting the child ready for bed?
- Is there any first aid, safety or babysitting classes taken by her?
- Why does she choose to be a babysitter for a child with autism?
- What does she like best and least about being a babysitter?
- In the case of an emergency, what can she do and should do?
- What kind of activities does she plan for spending time with the child?
- How much does she charge?
- Are there any references from former families or old schools where she worked?
This kind of child care may be either based in the child’s own home with child care providers, in someone else’s home, such as grandparents’, with a child care providers or in child care provider’s own home.
A carer has the advantage of giving one-to-one care. The home environment seems more comfortable and familiar to the children with autism who may struggle with changes in daily routines or day-to-day differences.
There are disadvantages of in-home childcare though. If the carer comes to home, the prices are going up, which means it is expensive. And, if the parents are working from home, then it can be difficult to concentrate with a child sit in the house.
It can be a positive or negative depending on where the child with autism falls on the spectrum, because the child cared for in the home may not receive as much as social interaction.
If the child has high-functioning autism, then parents and carers may want them to get used to being around other children ready for mainstream schooling, whereas a child with severe autism may struggle and have challenges with the social interactions in a large group.
Parents need to find someone who can treat their child as an individual, catering to particular needs because it is a spectrum disorder and the symptoms vary from person to person. They are able to give the child more attention than in a group setting.
Other than these, The child care provider’s house becomes a home away from home. It means it becomes somewhere the child with autism feels comfortable without parents and it gives the child gradually gaining independence.
Among normally developed children, the daycare center is very common. However, when the issue comes to children with autism, the rates are a little bit low. On the other hand, a daycare center can be a great option for them.
Many children on the spectrum thrive on the routine which is usually fix programmed in daycare. It can be highly challenging but a great preparation period for the transition to primary school. Parents have a huge responsibility while searching for a day care center for their children with autism. They can find somewhere local that has experience in working with children with autism or that employs specially trained professionals.
Daycare centers often also have access to resources such as being able to near to relevant medical services. Also, they have links to the community which can be of great benefit to both parent and their children.
On the other hand, as I mentioned before, it depends on the child. Some children will struggle with large groups and they may find the noise in large centers particularly unnerving.