How to Handle Autism in Family with Autism Support Groups
There has been a drastic rise in the autistic children in U.S. and information from the Autism Society of America says that the increase is almost fifty times than before. The number of students served by IDEA has augmented from 5,415 students to 78,749.
Estimation from the Center for Disease Control says that 2 to 6 per 1000 people are autistic. Autism Society of America says that one or the other type of autism has affected around 1.5 million Americans irrespective of status, cultures, races and educational background. So awareness among the families of autistic children is the rule of the day and more therapists and experts need to be trained to train the people through which the family can cope up with the stress of handling these children effectively.
Once the parents detect autism in their child it is necessary that they take proper intervention and appropriate program for their child taking into consideration the learning skill of the autistic child. The parents should have the knowledge and know how to be effective teachers at home. They should educate themselves of the latest different therapies and programs and also know the special education law and other services that the child can avail. Although the multiple roles of teacher, parent, advocate is difficult for the parents, it is their duty to provide needful for the enhancement of the autistic child.
In the year 2000 Nissenbaum, Tollefson, and Reese from The National Autistic Society investigated the influence of autism in the families. Although the parents with autistic children express trauma like any other parent of a disabled child, they still use autism as an excuse for the strange behavior of their child. The National Autistic Society do not approve of this.
Research says that educating an autistic child gives too much of pressure and tension for the parent. Researchers like Holroyd, McArthur and Donovan say that parents of autistic children undergo more stress and strain than the parents of mentally retarded children and Down syndrome. The stress could be due to many factors such as the dysfunctional behavior problem of the child, inability to understand the needs of the autistic child due to the poor expression of wants and needs, the sudden outburst, self-injurious behavior and tantrums which scare others. Their repetitive behavior, poor social and communication skill also creates a pressure on the parents.
Some parents get deprived sleep due to the improper sleeping pattern of the child. These children are also choosy about food and so make the parents to take extra effort to feed them. The parents do not find time for the others in the family and also has to avoid family functions and outing due to the poor social interaction of the child. The parents are also uncomfortable when dealing with the child and other extended family people as their child cannot relate to people.
The next pressure upon the parents with autistic children is in educating the child, finding out proper therapies and methods to teach the child. By being a member of the IEP the parents can find out suitable educational arrangements for their child. The latest approach and methods to teach autistic children are Picture Exchange Communication System, TEACCH, Floortime, RDI, Applied Behavior Analysis, Discrete Trial instruction, Sensory Integration and Social stories. Choose the program according to the childs learning skill and enhance the life of the child and also of the family. The same technique and skill maintained and practiced both in the school and at home can give good results as parents can be excellent teachers for their children.
Parents who learn useful behavioral intervention programs to manage behavior problem, learn to assess the functional level of the child and also get trained in providing functional communication both verbal and non verbal can handle an autistic child successfully at home. Behavior modification programs are more effective when the familys goal, beliefs and values are borne in mind.
An autistic child is benefited with family oriented educational program although there are the other external supports like that of the therapists, support group, doctors and teachers. Bristol says that parents of autistic children who joined the TEACCH program had an optimistic relationship between the behavior of child, their families and also from the social support which was available in plenty.
Despite the fact that managing an autistic child is stress and strain for the family, proper team work with expert therapists and knowledge of specialized skills and efficient teaching methods can enhance the communication, social, adaptive skill and also reduces the other aggressive behavior in child which in turn lessens the stress of the family. Qualified and skilled therapists when working with autistic children should also include their parents in the IEP process, functional behavior evaluation and also in the intervention programs.
The expert therapists must give opportunities to parents in the teaching methods of the school. The qualified professional should have knowledge about the special education law, scientific inventions and methods of therapy and should support the family with this knowledge. When parents are included in the training and support groups it is very useful for them to handle the autistic children through the acquired knowledge from the professionals and also a chance to share the ideas with other parents of autistic children.