My son was showing signs of autism: 10 things I did to help him
The pregnancy was normal.
The delivery was normal.
I did not see it coming at all.
“Your son is showing signs of autism. You should get it checked soon. Early treatment really helps”
When Aaron’s teacher told me that my son is showing signs of autism, I was left feeling shocked and confused. There is so much stigma and stereotypes attached to autism that at first my mind could not think reasonably.
I snapped at the teacher, picked up my son and left the school. On my way back home, I was inconsolable. Not because I felt that something was wrong with my child for showing signs of autism but because I knew how cruel the world can get to someone who looks and behaves differently.
I wanted to shield and protect my child from all of that and I could not stop worrying about the day when I would not be able to.
I told my husband that Aaron’s teacher suspects that he may have autism since he has been showing early signs of autism.
The news affected him too but he assured me that we will work this through and give the best support and help that we can give to our son.
We booked an appointment with a renowned child psychologist and waited for a proper diagnosis for signs of autism before doing anything else.
The child psychologist was empathic and instantly built a good rapport with Aaron. She observed Aaron’s behaviors, mannerisms, and thought processes by engaging him in fun games and activities.
She confirmed that Aaron has been showing signs of autism and assured us that many children who are diagnosed with autism go on to live stable, happy, and successful life.
But a lot of that depends on early interventions, regular therapy, and strong support from us, his school, and other people who are close to Aaron. After a detailed talk with her, we felt better and in control of the situation.
From that day on I decided that as parents we would do each and everything possible to help our son develop and grow in the most amazing ways.
It has been 5 years since Aaron was diagnosed with autism. Detecting the early signs of autism was a great head start in his treatment but what helped more were these 10 things that we did as his parents:
1. Show Acceptance Instead of Being In Denial
I know that if I had been in denial and ignored the early signs of autism then Aaron’s growth and development would have been much delayed. The initial denial is very understandable because as a mother you never want your child to suffer from anything.
However, the denial was to do more with me than with Aaron. When I accepted that my son is showing signs of autism, my perception changed from the problem to the solution.
We were able to focus more on how we can help our son rather than dwelling on negative scenarios and the ‘why my son’ mentality.
2. Understand and Educate Yourself About Autism
Autism affects the social and communication development of the child. Aaron seldom ever preferred being in huge crowds and shied away from strangers.
He did not show much inclination towards forming friendships and liked to be on his own.
Although there is nothing wrong with being introverted and shy, extreme avoidance and discomfort in social settings could be the signs of autism.
Aaron’s child psychologist spent a lot of time educating us about autism. She encouraged us to read books on autism and gave many positive real-life cases of children with autism who are thriving well in life.
Educating yourself about autism also helps you to place yourself in your child’s shoes. They are the ones who will directly deal with the challenges of autism and as parents, we can tend to impose our negative thinking and worry on them.
Understanding the signs of autism will help you to know how you can help your child in the best way possible.
3. Believe In Your Child
Autism or any other developmental disorder does not make your child any lesser than other kids.
Honestly, I feel my child is a gifted child because he genuinely has so much compassion and kindness within him. He shows me an entirely new way to see the world. He makes me laugh with his eccentric ways and strange opinions about everything.
As a mother, I was worried when the teacher told me that my son is showing signs of autism. I automatically assumed that he would be less or be seen as someone inferior to other kids. Now I know that my child is enough and more than enough.
I believe in him with all my heart and I know he deserves and he is capable of a beautiful life.
4. Don’t Spoon Feed Him
This one took a little longer to understand and if I am being 100% truthful it is still pretty difficult.
When my son started showing signs of autism and the child psychologist confirmed the diagnosis, I became a paranoid and overly concerned mother. I would call up the day-care every hour to make sure that my son was doing okay or if he needed me.
I would help him in every little activity and literally brought everything to his mouth.
The child psychologist noticed my paranoia and helped me to understand that spoon-feeding will only slow down his progress. Kids like to feel independent and the constant reassurance can make them feel that something could be actually wrong with them.
Spoon-feeding will only negatively affect his self-esteem and instead of making him self-reliant will only increase his dependency.
I gradually started to let him do things on his own and even gave him constructive feedback when he needed it. I was expecting others to treat him like a normal child without consciously realizing that I was the only one who was not treating him like a normal kid.
5. Let Him Grow at His Own Pace
No two people have the same life. Every individual has their own timeline and grows at their own pace. I wanted Aaron to outdo other kids because I wanted to show others that my kid is as capable as others.
As I said before, sometimes our actions and beliefs are more to do with our personal issues rather than our children themselves.
I failed to realize that every child has their unique strengths and abilities and forcing my son to do things he did not feel very comfortable with only pushed him away from me
Instead, I let him decide what he wanted to do and then give him the time and space to figure out things on his own.
6. Be Regular with Therapy
Aaron loves to visit his child psychologist. I have seen many instances where the kids have dreaded going to therapy. I am really grateful that I found a good psychologist for my son.
She not only patiently deals with my son but also takes time to answer our queries and tone down our worries and tension. She is a great blessing in all our lives!
I make sure that Aaron remains consistent with his therapy. It has helped him tremendously. He has become better with his social skills and even agrees to go on playdates… Sometimes.
7. Join support groups
As parents, we need to look out for ourselves as well. It is natural that our world revolves around our children but regulating our emotions, thoughts, and worries is a much-needed practice too.
I have joined a support group where I can talk to mothers of children with autism and other developmental issues. Sharing your stories and listening to other people’s stories can really help you to stay strong and positive.
I inculcate these 7 habits regularly in my life after Aaron started showing signs of autism and I can say with complete assurance that it helps. It helps your child as well as you to overcome the challenges that come with autism.
There will be bad days. Days where you can feel frustrated and negative about the future but remember that the good days outdo everything.