Having a child with an autism spectrum disorder or ASD can be stressful for both the husband and wife. In fact, this kind of mental condition may lead to turmoil in the marital union. According to a recent study, one of the many reasons why marriages end up in divorce is because of the failure of the parents to settle conflicts or indifferences arising from the mental health of their children. Just because it is happening it doesn’t mean that you will also be a part of this number. Luckily, you still have a chance to make your marriage last despite the existence of your child’s ASD.
Parenting is a complete struggle, especially if you have a child who has a mental condition such as autism spectrum disorder. It is difficult to balance your work at home and your work in the office. At the same time, it is also challenging to handle the tantrums and other effects brought by the disorder. One of the reasons why you are probably experiencing difficulty in raising your child is the lack of the essential information about his condition. Unfortunately, there are a significant number of parents who have not fully understood what autism means and how it can affect the lives of their kids.
One of the several issues concerning kids with autism is their education. A common misconception is that these kids are incapable of going to school. The truth is contrary to this because autistic individuals are more in need of going to an educational institution. They have to learn in a special school, most importantly when it comes to proper behavior and the use of languages for communication. A lot of therapists recommend parents to ensure that their kids with autism should attend academic classes. These are the reasons why you must send your child to school notwithstanding his autism:
It Can Help Him Develop Their Interpersonal Skills
At this point, you are probably well aware that your little one struggles in building relationships with others. The reason behind this is that he has low interpersonal skills, usually brought about by his disorder. Sending him to a school wherein his classmates also have special needs will help your child improve the way he looks at relationships. He will feel more comfortable in connecting with others, once he realizes that many other kids are just like him. “Rather than focusing on weaknesses, find ways to assist your child in developing to his or her full potential. When encouraged, children will acquire talents to compensate for any deficiencies.” Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., LMFT explains.
His Teachers Can Teach Him A Lot Of Lessons
It is a fact that you can teach your child without the assistance of others. You can simply find the books or materials for your lectures. However, you also need to accept the fact that you are not equipped with the necessary skills on how to engage in special education. As such, you may experience several challenges when it comes to teaching your kid about the things they need to know. Save yourself from some trouble by enrolling him in a school for children with mental conditions.
You Can Save More Time
Another advantage of sending your beloved kid to a special school is that you get to spend more time with yourself. Take note that you also need to prioritize your well-being. Learn how to take a break by trusting your kid’s teacher that he can provide care for your little one while he is within the school facility. While your kid is at the school, you can go to work with peace of mind or attend special events with some friends. Remember that all teachers in special needs schools are equipped with knowledge and expertise in dealing with kids who are diagnosed with certain mental conditions. But of course, Francyne Zeltser, Psy.D. still insists that “what’s more important than the quantity of time you spend with your kids is the quality of the time you do have together.”
“You know your children best. Doctors, teachers, therapists are all fantastic resources but if you don’t feel like you’re being heard, or your child’s needs are being met, it’s very reasonable to get a second opinion. Don’t be afraid to fight for your child and their needs. While the professionals are experts in their areas, you are the expert on your child.” Dr. Darla Clayton, PsyD said. Your kid deserves to learn new things and to get out of the house once in a while. Let him attend classes. It will be highly beneficial for his condition.
Dealing with autism can be difficult on your part, especially if you are not familiar with the proper ways on how to do it. You will experience a lot of challenges and demands when it comes to making your child understand certain things and allowing him to function in society. This is the reason why you need to get some help and assistance from medical professionals. You cannot just rely on your knowledge and skills about autism spectrum disorder. It is also necessary to find a psychiatrist who could look into your kids’ mental condition.
“Sometimes a child with ADD may be incorrectly diagnosed with a behavioral problem or a developmental disorder. It is vital that in the first step of treatment, your child or teen receives a reliable diagnosis from a child mental health specialist, such as a child psychologist or child psychiatrist.” –John M. Grohol, Psy.D
The next inquiry to ask is when is the right time to bring your kid to a psychiatrist is? Is there a specific set of events that must occur first before seeking professional help? Should you wait for a certain number of years before visiting the office of a health practitioner? Below are some of the red flags that indicate the need to get with a psychiatrist as soon as possible:
Constant Loss Of Control. Once you notice that your child with autism starts to have increased episodes wherein he loses control, the right thing to do is to set an appointment with a doctor. This is ideal so that the doctor could look into the factors causing the episodes and how to treat them.
Development Of Aggression Against Others. “People with ASD can have problems controlling their aggression and says it is not uncommon for these clients, sometimes including adults, to pull her hair or scratch her arms.” Stephanie Smigiel, LPC said. Do not wait for your child to hurt his friends or family members. If you notice that your kid has turned aggressive, be sure to call a psychiatrist right away. The longer you prolong the meeting with the doctor, the more dangerous it is on the part of your kid.
Verbal Escalation. When your child has begun to act strangely by making uncontrollable screams, the next step to do is to seek help from a medical professional. Always remember that being verbally abusive and inappropriate is not healthy for the child. With the help of a psychiatrist, you can teach the child how to decrease his screams.
Influx Of Concerns From Teachers. Sending your child to school is good for his condition. Make sure that you are in constant communication with the teacher to monitor your child’s performance or behavior at school. If the teachers have raised concerns and problems with your kids at home, do not hesitate to contact a psychiatrist. Keep in mind that further help may be required to handle the situation.
Increased Fears. “Fear makes us feel alive and know we are stepping outside our comfort zones, which is exciting,” says Steve Orma, PsyD, a clinical psychologist. But if your beloved child starts to act weird because of his fears for things or people, find a way to address it immediately. Do not wait for the situation to get worse. Contact a psychiatrist in the local community so that you can discuss the condition of your child. The earlier you do this, the better it is for your child’s mental health.
Whether you like it or not, the help and assistance of a medical doctor or psychiatrist are essential for the well being of your child. Learn how to find the right health practitioner who will handle the case of your kid. As much as possible, avoid switching doctors to prevent a mix-up of records and errors in treatment plans.
Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is a mental health condition that is characterized by difficulty in communication and impaired social behavior. One of the common misconceptions about this neurological condition is that people with autism are unable to perform a lot of functions. This is entirely wrong because autistic individuals have different limitations, depending on the attending circumstances of each case. Because of this, it is essential to treat every person with autism spectrum disorder on a case-to-case basis.
When the condition was presented in 1940, Hans Asperger, a Viennese pediatrician described it as having a mild autism-like disorder characterized by social and communication difficulties most commonly affected are boys having average intellectual skills and speech development.
From DSM-IV TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition (Text Revision), the condition was accepted as a standalone diagnosis for children with problems in nonverbal behaviors, specifically the eye-to-eye connection, facial expression, body positioning to promote social interaction. Came the present DSM-5 and the new description of Asperger’s is now highlighted as Social Communication Disorder.
“It is important to note that the intention is to first understand the person with autism, to join with them, and then to help them modify their communication in a way so that repetitive restrictive behaviors can become channeled, the nervous system can settle, and social engagement can begin.” –Christina Devereaux Ph.D, BC-DMT
In the most common layman’s term, children with Asperger’s are called “geeks” due to the high-level functioning of their IQ. This quality is sometimes considered a detrimental factor rather than an asset to some school environment as evidenced by increased rates of bullying.
People with this kind of condition have normal to a superior range of IQ, unlike persons with autism who have manifested delays in intellectual skill as early as the age of 2.
The Autism Society mentioned that there had not been a delay in language development in people with Asperger’s Syndrome. The struggle of establishing a social connection is not due to delayed language development being socially withdrawn. Instead, they become socially awkward due to becoming hesitant about how to connect with the people around them. They have the interest to be part of their social circle. However, they are having significant difficulties in doing it.
“Traditionally, intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has focused upon reducing interfering behavior and teaching language, academic and self-help skills.” –Marlene Driscoll, MA, LMFT
Having this behavior sets them as “weird” and “eccentric” from the rest of the crowd. With our present society, being “weird” is not so socially accepted. Thus, the problems arise such as bullying, discrimination, and labeling with negative connotations. These can lead to psychological setbacks as the child understands what is going on around them.
The film Temple Grandin is an inspiring true-to-life story of a girl with Asperger’s syndrome who successfully became an expert in her field of study. Temple Grandin also became an inspiration to parents whose children have autism spectrum disorder not to lose hope and to continue loving and helping their children survive.
The Parents’ Role
Once again, the role of the parents is critical in the lives of children with Asperger’s syndrome. “The autism diagnosis itself is often traumatic for parents. It can be a grueling process that may take up to a year or more, with multiple visits to several different professionals.” Janeen Herskovitz, MA, LMHC said. What parents can do can be summarized in the following:
Be Honest. Never camouflage the condition of your child. Some parents, because of the stigma it represents, would try to sugarcoat the situation when people ask them about the real condition of their children. Hey, tell them she has Asperger’s, and it’s not contagious! Perhaps this way, they will start looking at the disorder with much respect other than treating it as a communicable disease.
Create Awareness. The moment you become honest, it is time to start educating the people around you about Asperger’s syndrome. Becoming aware is the first step to remove the veil of misunderstanding.
Be There For Your Child. Some parents would say, “I’m supportive of my child.” However, they are still not emotionally present and available when needed. Asperger’s syndrome will have more demands on your time and attention. You need to anticipate this in the future.
Have Other Family Members Get Involved. You cannot do this alone. You are not a superhero. Be realistic – you need help from your family and other resources. At present, many online support groups can offer some tips and recommendations on how to handle the problems that will come your way.
As the arising challenges in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) continues, finding effective means of addressing these problems has also been a priority of the medical and healthcare sectors. There is no known cure for ASD, but there is a range of unique behavioral and educational programs that can help control the symptoms of it. Various alternative treatments have been developed through the collaboration of the diverse group of medical and healthcare systems, practices, and products to replace conventional treatments and help treat the overall health and possible behavioral problems of autism.
Teaching kids with special needs require more than just time and effort. It’s twice that and a lot of patience. The teacher must also be creative in planning the activities for the kids, making sure that the manner of teaching is appropriate for the learning capabilities of the students.
Learning through just reading and writing can be dull at times. Even kids without special needs have a hard time enjoying activities that require reading and writing skills along. It may cause the students to become uninterested and unfocused.
Teachers should be able to come up with more exciting ways for students with special needs to learn such as teaching music and art. These methods do not replace the education curriculum for kids with special needs. Instead, they serve as complementary methods to help children cope up better.
Music and art are therapies used to help students address several mental health issues involving feelings and emotions by assisting them to acknowledge their feelings and healthily express them. They will experience creating music and art, and at the same time, they will feel relaxed and at peace which is essential in addressing mental issues such as anxiety and depression.
“While music has long been recognized as an effective form of therapy to provide an outlet for emotions, the notion of using song, sound frequencies and rhythm to treat physical ailments is a relatively new domain.” says Daniel J. Levitin, PhD. Music therapy is beneficial as a complementary tool to aid with the educational curriculum of students with special needs. It is a therapy used to address physical and psychological issues, but anyone who knows music cannot just implement it. The therapist must obtain the necessary certifications and licenses to be able to administer music therapy and must be able to finish a degree in an accredited school and accomplish several hours of clinical training.
Music Therapy Consists Of Activities Surrounding Music Such As:
Listening To Music
The teacher or the therapist will prepare certain types of music in which the students will listen. They will then be asked to determine the characteristics of each music and how it can affect them. Through music, they will be able to appreciate the elements of all the sounds combined to create something good for the mind. “It seems as though – I wouldn’t say music has special properties – but, it has the ability to distract or engage in ways that other stimuli don’t.” Neuropsychologist Daniel Levitin, PhD explains.
It will require connectivity of the hearing and the physical being but at the same time involves the psychological aspect of the students. They will be able to move their body using music as an instrument. They will learn to be attentive and responsive to several kinds of sounds.
Playing Musical Instruments
The students will learn how musical instruments work. They will master the art of creating music through the use of their physical, mental, and emotional being and the musical instrument. They will learn to be one with a concrete tool for expressing their feelings and emotions.
“Art therapy can be effective for most ages or populations. In fact, art is one of my favorite things to bring to family therapy, as it has the ability to level the playing field.” Melissa J Weaver, LMHC, ATR explains. Art therapy is also a tool used to aid in the education of students with special needs. It is a method used to help them express themselves better. They will be able to communicate with the therapists and all the people around them through their art. Sometimes, communication is a challenge for students with special needs. Art is a way to communicate with their parents, teachers, classmates, and other people around them. It is a way for them to be able to focus on something and divert all their thoughts and energy.
Art Therapy Consists Of Activities Such As:
It is an activity where students use pencils, coloring pens, crayons, ink, and charcoal to draw images they see in their mind.
It involves using paintbrushes and different colors of paint to create an image or pattern.
It is an art technique where students will use different parts of art materials like colored papers, magazines, newspapers or anything they can put together to a whole.
It is a method where students will mold or form shape using clay, wood or anything that takes a form.
It involves creating handicrafts which can be used such as puppets, decorations, and other things that will require their hand skills and self-expression.
The condition of students with special needs is ranging from mild to a severe mental health disorder. As long as the student can develop social and listening skills, they will be able to benefit from the educational curriculum and music and art therapies.
Conditions Of Students With Special Needs Which Can Benefit From Music And Art:
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
Music and art therapy can aid in the learning process of students in several ways. They learn to express themselves and acknowledge every emotion and turn it into something beautiful like music and art. Students also learn the importance of organization, orderliness, and cleanliness by maintaining the materials and instruments they use in learning.
Teaching kids with limited capabilities can be a real challenge in a manner that the teacher is responsible for bringing out the greatness in each child. We will then learn that there are no limitations to what they can achieve. It’s just a matter of time and approach to learning.
Parents, teachers, and all people involved in the care of a child with special needs want the best for each student, and although it can be challenging, there are several ways in which learning can be more efficient. We have to keep in mind that students with special needs will require extra time, effort and attention. Teachers should always remember the simple ways to make a child learn faster and better.
What Can A Teacher Do To Make The Learning Of Children With Special Needs More Efficient?
Organize the classroom in a way that the students will be able to learn efficiently. Teachers should avoid too many clutter and organize teaching materials, books, tables, etc., making sure that the students can learn with the simple organization of things like the segregation of colors, use, shape, and size of learning materials in the classroom. Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D once said, “Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.”
Just by arranging the books alphabetically or by size, students will be able to learn the importance of orderliness and cleanliness because they promote a pattern that can make the mind work faster and better. They will learn that the organization can create a sense of peace and relaxation.
Limit distractions by making sure the doors are always closed, free from noises and sights which can disturb the class. If students can see the people passing by, they can lose focus on what’s happening inside the classroom. They will be inattentive to the person speaking in class which will hinder their learning.
Teachers can familiarize students with the meaning of specific sounds through music and inflection of speech through the tone of voice. They will be able to distinguish the representation of what they hear and how they are going to respond.
They can use particular music (soft and loud) to represent a task or an activity, like playing a specific tune to mean they are supposed to organize their desks and all the stuff they have used throughout the day. “Just to clarify, music therapy is the evidence-based use of music in clinical situations that help people reach desired health outcomes.” Neuropsychologist Daniel Levitin, PhD explains.
Teachers can also use tones, tenses, and infections which can help the students identify the message. Remember that students with special needs often have difficulty communicating, that’s why the verbal emphasis is essential in successfully relaying a message.
Teachers should avoid using long and complicated words in giving out instructions. As much as possible, they should give directions that are easy to understand, or they can use symbols or signs to mean an action like an arrow to point at something or a stop sign meaning time is up.
Teachers should also make tasks manageable. They should never give long and exhausting activities. As much as possible, create some variety but simplify each task, like instructing students to draw their favorite food or draw and use colors freely according to how they feel. They can ask the students to organize learning materials according to their shapes, colors, and sizes or as simple as arranging the chairs properly.
These are simple yet efficient ways teachers should implement in a classroom of children with special needs. Their environment should be able to match and nurture their abilities.
What Can The Teachers Do Ensure The Best For The Students?
Teachers should be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the students to be able to come up with the most reliable approach that will help in ensuring the best for their students. It is their responsibility to know and nourish the skills of the students.
By being able to identify the students’ strengths and being able to help them, the teacher is giving them an equal opportunity at life. Students with special needs will feel the sense of achievement that they will develop self-love and self-esteem.
Teachers should promote a positive influence on the students. They should be motivation and inspiration. As much as possible, they should never display any negative attitude and should always remain calm in any given situation. They should reflect on what the students should act and behave. Even the way they dress and the way they take care of their things can provide a significant impact on how the students will view the people and things around them.
“Technology conditions the brain to pay attention to information very differently than reading.” That is according to Jim Taylor Ph.D. Use technology for learning like letting them watch fables and stories that will teach them moral lessons. There are also various educational videos which can aid in developing the mind of the students. It could stimulate their comprehension. They will also learn to distinguish right from wrong and have an idea of how to handle particular situations.
Teaching students with special needs take a lot of effort and patience. There are many factors and considerations to make which will contribute to the students’ learning process. It is vital that the environment, activities, and moods are fit to their strengths and weaknesses. It will ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to be the best that he can be.
While most of us have spent time knowing the challenges of raising a child with ASD, it’s about time that we celebrate their strengths. We should be spending more time appreciating their strengths so we could be instruments to unleash their capabilities. Here are 5 among the many strengths of a child with ASD:
The difficult thing parents have to deal with when it comes to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the “disorder” itself on the children, making parents more concerned than regular about the future of their children.