I am Aspling, a girl on the Autistic Spectrum. My aim? To raise awareness around the world! I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Condition last year (2017) at age 25. I’ll be honest, growing up my family never knew what Autism was, and I was too young to understand myself. I was shy and socially awkward and hid my behaviours from the world. I was different, and nobody thought anything of it.
As a result of being undiagnosed as a child my mum just had to manage and invent her own strategies for coping with my difficulties. As a child I would collect things, only eat certain foods, only wear clothes with the labels cut out and I’d meltdown frequently – typical autistic traits, but Autism wasn’t widely talked about so no one had a clue really.
As a parent you only want the best for your child. Its so vital to spot the signs early and ensure the right support is available – something I missed out on!
So what exactly is Autism?
Autism is a Neurodevelopmental disorder. This refers to the brains development of neurological pathways that influence performance and functioning, for example, memory and attention. Autism is a lifelong condition that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.
How to spot the signs:
It is important to educate yourself so that you can recognise any signs of possible developmental delay. The early signs of Autism involve the absence of normal behaviours.
Early signs to look out for are:
Your baby or toddler does not:
- Make eye contact, such as looking at you when feeding
- Respond to his/her name or a familiar voice
- Use gestures to communicate such as pointing or waving
- Make noises for attention
- Imitate movements or facial expressions
- Play with others or share interest or enjoyment
If you are worried your child may be developmentally delayed the first thing to do is contact your pediatrician to book an appointment. It is also a good idea to contact your local GP to raise these concerns.
Growing up my parents had to develop their own strategies to manage my behaviour, this included calming strategies, managing emotions and social strategies.
It is important to remember that every child is diverse and no two are the same, it is vital to understand that some strategies that work for one child may not work for another. It’s about trial and error, finding what works best and tailoring it to your child’s individual needs.
- Choose your battles – look at the people around you, in the grand scheme of things do they really matter?
- Create a self soothe box – a box full of favourite items such as sensory toys – this is a great tool when it comes to overload/meltdown
- For anxiety I’d recommend a touch toy – an item from Mum, or Dad something that is special to put in their pocket, and when they squeezes it or touches it it reminds them of Mum/Dad and makes them feel strong. The items could be anything for example a button of mums coat
- Have a time to talk. This is so important as a child grows older, a time to sit and just talk about problems or worries
There are so many other strategies available which can be tailored to your child’s needs. For more information you can look at the National Autistic Society Website or send me message @ GirlOnTheSpectrum@hotmail.com