By Dr. R K Lohiya, Occupational Therapy
Raising a child with autism is a baffling and stressful time for every parent. You worry about their well-being, grow overprotective and defensive of their every action and live in constant fear and confusion about what is right and wrong for your baby. According to the World Health Organisation, 1 in every 160 children suffers from autism and autism spectrum disorders that become apparent by the age of 5.
The good news, however, is autism can be defeated with a sound treatment plan, support and providing an environment of love and affection to the affected child. Occupational Therapy, along with encouragement from family and peers, has helped several children with autism, all around the globe.
Find out if your kid has Autism
The most difficult part about parenting an autistic child is accepting your child has autism. Consult an expert if you feel anything amiss in your child’s behaviour, as early prediction often has the best outcome. Look out for signs such as-
• Withdrawal from social situations.
• Difficulty in communicating feelings and needs.
• Repetitive and rigid conduct with difficulty in transition.
The best parenting tip in dealing with an autistic kid is not feeling stigmatized or guilty about the child’s disabilities. The second best parenting tip would be to consult an occupational therapist right away, to help the child bloom to his/ her fullest potential.
How Occupational Therapy Helps to Overcome Autism
• Occupational therapy involves an analysis of the child’s interaction with their immediate environment and evaluating the social and psychological impact to help them to be self-sufficient. The therapist works in conjunction with the family as well as teachers to fulfil the goals of improved social interaction, the ability to articulate feelings and emotions in an appropriate manner and improve academic performance.
• It involves a range of activities from getting dressed to playing games and performing songs and dance, to help in all-around mental and physical development. These activities help transitions in behaviour easier for the kid and boost adaptability.
• The therapy is often organized in groups to encourage social interaction and reduce aggressive behaviour by creating scope for a better understanding of their surroundings.
• Motor skills, posture, and balance improve over time, enabling the child to respond better to external stimuli.
• Visual skills, awareness of self, coping with stress and problem-solving skills develop through occupational therapy that allows the child to lead a relatively normal life as teens and adults.
The best thing a parent can give their child is self-confidence. Occupational therapy helps your child to be independent and successful adults with high self-esteem and the ability to deal with everyday challenges. It helps them to celebrate their uniqueness without fear or shame in being different. If you haven’t tried it already, consult an occupational therapist and help your kid thrive in life.