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8 things that will make life easier for your child with autism

4th March 2023 Print

It’s important for kids with autism to be adequately supported in every area of life, so here’s a breakdown of what they need to be happy and thrive.

1. The right kind of therapy

Therapy for kids with autism is important because it helps them improve communication and social skills. However, it’s important to find the right kind of therapy because there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

If you haven’t looked into therapy yet, start by trying the most popular options. For instance, getting them in-home Applied Behavior Analysis therapy is an excellent way to support their needs. ABA therapy uses positive reinforcements to increase helpful behaviors and decrease unhelpful behaviors in your child.

There are other forms of therapy you can try, including speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, art therapy, and several more.

2. The freedom to stim

Children with autism need to stim to relieve the pressure of being overstimulated and overwhelmed by their environment. Stimming puts a buffer between your child and whatever is making them feel uncomfortable, and it can also physically relieve an agitated nervous system.

It’s critical to allow your child to stim (appropriately) whenever they need to, regardless of what other people might think. Some stimming behaviors can be harmful, like head banging and scratching, but many aren’t. If your child stims in a way that is self-injurious, it’s healthy to redirect these behaviors and try to help them find alternatives. However, you should never attempt to stop or prevent them from stimming in general.

3. Stimming toys

Some kids prefer stimming with specific toys. You’ve probably seen the popular fidget spinners, but there are many other sensory toys around. Some are made with magnets that you can push around or mold into different shapes, and others are textured and move in satisfying ways.

Everyone will have a personal preference, so try a variety of toys to see which ones your child prefers. You can find just about anything you need online.

4. A clean, healthy diet

While a healthy diet is important for everyone, it’s critical if your child has autism. Junk food tends to negatively impact kids with autism more than others. Take note of the vegetables your child enjoys and incorporate them into various dishes. You might not be able to get them to eat super healthy for every meal, but do your best.

5. A weighted blanket

Sometimes kids need a little extra weight pressed into their body to feel good. If your child enjoys tight hugs, there’s a good chance they’ll also like a weighted blanket. These are especially helpful for kids who have trouble sleeping.

Just make sure you get a blanket they can easily move so they don’t end up getting trapped underneath. Typically, it’s recommended that a weighted blanket be 10% of a person’s body weight, but preferences vary.

6. Chewies

Some kids with autism crave a specific kind of tactile input that can only be satisfied by chewing. Unfortunately, this often means shredded shirt collars, destroyed sleeves, and other items.

There are special toys made to be chewed, and they’re usually worn by parents to help keep their babies entertained. However, they’re also perfect for kids of any age with autism who are big chewers.

7. Noise-canceling headphones

When the sounds of the world are too much, some kids with autism find comfort in putting on a pair of headphones and disappearing into their own world. However, regular headphones don’t block out external noise very well, which can be distressing. The answer is to get noise canceling headphones or earbuds.

8. Sectioned food plates

If your child strongly prefers not mixing foods, you need plates with separate sections to keep food from touching. It might seem like no big deal if you don’t share the sentiment, but some kids will lose their appetite and refuse to eat if certain foods combine.

Having sectioned plates makes it easier to serve full meals to your child because it prevents sauces from running into other parts of the meal. This way, you can serve mashed potatoes with gravy and chicken, for example, and the gravy won’t touch the meat.

Reduce your child’s struggles as much as possible

There’s no way around it – kids with autism will face struggles throughout their life, but you can alleviate their stress and support them by identifying and meeting their needs.