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Supporting children with autism

Here2Talk
Community Member

Hi all,

I have a 6yo son with level 2 asd.

An interesting episode tonight. He tripped last night and got a small graze on the top of his foot, and after a day it finally bloodied up (you now how grazes can sometimes not bleed or scab straight away). Anyway he was distressed, as usual, when getting into the shower, because he said “it’s going to hurt”. I tried to placate him and persuade him that it would be manageable; alas he was so distressed that eventually we just put a bandaid on and let him shower like that.

The exact scenario is not that important; I am just Wondering if anyone has thoughts or ideas or experiences with autistic children, and in terms of what you should do in terms of nudging them to try and do difficult or uncomfortable things?

He is very intelligent young man (ahead of the class eg in maths and spelling and reading), but has trouble with rigid ideas and subtlety characteristic of autism.

I’ve heard of others with autism being guided very well, some even becoming very successful in careers etc and I just wondered - philosophically - how much one should try to encourage children With asd throughout development. Obviously one can’t (morally) push any human to do things that are distressing - but in trying to make everything conform to a child’s agenda and protect them from every difficulty they might encounter would seem like depriving them of skills necessary for life - this world is going to throw difficulties at children ....

So I guess does anyone have advice for the ultimate amount of pushing vs placating/comforting a child with ASD- more geared to level 2 high intelligence children but any advice/experiences in general are welcome.

Best wishes.

5 Replies 5

Croix
Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Here2Talk~

I had enough trouble trying to raise a kid without the added burden of ASD, and have wondered the same as you, how far to push? While htere is a very natural parental desire to protect I am sure it can be taken too far for the very reasons you gave.

I never was able to come up with a consistent set of 'rules' as the ground kept changing. I and my partner knew as adults we has an understanding of priorities and consequences and often relied -for better or worse - on instinct. An example was if we did not take the child to the dentist for an abscessed broken tooth then trouble would escalate over time .

Trying to get this concept across to a young person was not easy, but due to a very capable and comforting dentist it worked out. It could so easily gone the other way with the degree of distress felt by the young person getting us to call the whole thing off - at least for a while.

I'd not presume to advise you on your situation, but might mention two thing. I apologize if I'm telling you what you have already done or know.

Others will have faced the same experiences, and these can be the basis of support groups. If you have not already done so I'd suggest finding if one exists near you. Our 24/7 Help Line (1300 22 4636) may have a listing for your area or have other suggestions.

The second is to see what is available here on the Forum, not quite as straightforward and it will take time.

Using the Google Search engine type in:

autism beyondblue forum

or

ASD beyondblue forum

You will get a lot of hits and may well find material that helps as you read though the resultant posts and threads.

I hope this has been of some use

Croix

romantic_thi3f
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Here2Talk,

I hope you have been doing ok. I had saved your post thinking about what I might be able to offer in terms of support. I was also hoping more parents would jump in but that's alright- I wonder if it might be worth reaching out to organisations to see what advice and guidance they can provide? I'm from SA and they have family support groups here and I think it could be really helpful to connect with other parents going through the same thing.

For me personally, I think it's about choosing your battles and weighing up what you feel is right. Your kid may have not needed a band-aid, but grabbing a band-aid provided comfort and support, and in the long-run doesn't impact too much. With other situations and the pushing and nudging, I think it could be useful to think about the things that your kid is interested in. Everyone is more likely to get out of their comfort zone when we are motivated to do so.

One other thing that could be helpful is a child psychologist. I'm suggesting this because it can be really helpful to get some extra insight into behaviour and development, particularly if you ever find that your child is struggling with something in particular or you feel 'stuck'. This might be helping to understand, or seeing the benchmarks, or even the support to set some goals and find that sweet spot between nudging and pushing. I hope that you don't see this as any reflection on your ability to be a parent. I already think you're nailing it, especially in the way that you reflect on all of the decisions you're making and supporting your child grow.

rt

Mokau
Community Member

Hi there,

I have an almost 10year old son with Autism Level 2 and have had the same mental conversations with myself over the year. We've had a fantastic OT for almost 2 years and I've done a lot of courses trying to understand and make life easier for my son and us as parents. I also spent some time working as a youth worker in school learning support teams so faced situations with other students aside from my son battling the fixed thinking or resistance to uncomfortable or overwhelming situations.

The best advice I can give is that engagement in an uncomfortable or overwhelming situation comes from a place of safety and confidence. It may mean small steps towards the goal activity or addressing what is making the activity uncomfortable - like you did with the sore and the bandaid. If you can work through what is making the situation overwhelming and address that then the young person can feel safe to engage in the activity. Sometimes it is possible to break a task up into subsets and spend a few days at step one and once they are completing that step without hesitation, resistance or anxiety you can progress to the next step. The scale of the next step will be guided by the young persons level of stress. Sometimes it might mean stand in the shower for 5secs and then build up over time. Other tasks will be possible to do together (say completing a chore around the house) so they can feel safe with company and see how the task is done and feel a sense of ease that it is possible and how it finishes, then slowly get them to complete part of it by themselves with you around for back up and then let them complete more and more by themselves until you've got to the goal of independently completing an activity.

Mokau
Community Member

Some tasks we see as non-negotiable like health and safety. If he is sick he has to take medication required and he must wear safety equipment. Must wear a seat belt, must wear helmets. So we won't allow him to leave without it or we explain that if he doesn't put it on himself we will have to come and help because this isn't an option. Allowing him some say in how other tasks are done can give him a sense of safety that not all parts of his world are overwhelming or hard or out of his control. So that's where we pick and choose when and how we draw the line. For example he hates photos so we allow him the choice to be in a photo or not so he feels his boundaries are respected in these situations. He must eat food even when out somewhere different where he can be extremely uncomfortable so we take safe, known foods with us and he gets the choice about where he eats (very sensitive to eating noises and visuals of chewing) so he can sit somewhere away from people but he must eat.

An experienced OT can be so valuable in helping break down tasks and situations to guide how to approach 'graduated exposure' to uncomfortable or overwhelming new experiences and slowly progress will be possible.
If you'd like any other examples on how we've approached some situations happy to share.

All the best.

Bridge678
Community Member
Chose your battles is my biggest advice. When my youngest was 6 they would of 100% needed that bandaid to get in the shower and my child is not ASD. Work out what is important non negotiables and battle those ones out.