4 Autism myths my son dispelled and displayed improvements

Autism journey is an emotional roller coaster ride with hard decisions to make besides digest the fact of your child’s future. This situation becomes further hurtful when you overhear many autism myths that not only confuse you but scare you too.

Nevertheless, please don’t despair. With a lot of dedication and strategies to strive, you can dispel the common autism myths and see significant progress in your child. Today, I would like to share with you 4 autism myths my son dispelled and displayed improvements, which is the outcome of various therapies and strategies that I have followed for the past 8 years to achieve this level.

4 Autism myths my son dispelled and displayed improvements

4 Autism myths dispelled

Myth 1 : They are within their world

Children with autism do not interact with you, which does not signify that they are within their domain. Know that your child is listening to you even though he/she is looking far away or playing with his toys. Sometimes you will miss noticing as we usually expect our kids to have eye contact with us.

Myth dispelled-

I want to share two anecdotes to dispel this myth.

Anecdote 1

When Girish, my son with autism, started his school at the age of three, he was intense on the spectrum and nonverbal and intellectually a baby of 15 months, perhaps.

Ever since his diagnosis, I have made sure to keep conversing with him in every possible situation. I enact as his mind.

While walking towards his school, there were many colorful flowers. I used to point out and tell him “flower.” Of course, some days I did, some days I didn’t. I am not sure if he even heard me or saw me pointing to the flowers. After a few months, his dad dropped him to school, and Girish pointed out to those flowers and said: “ower” (that was the first time he has ever pointed out to something).

Strategy to dispel this autism myth-

I regard conversing with your child to be a powerful tool for him/her to thrive. Keep talking to your child in every possible situation.

Ignore the point that he/she is not responding to you or is busy with something else but know the fact that he/she is listening. As you converse, imagine so many things are getting registered in your child’s mind.

Just start the day by greeting the child, ask if the child slept well, talk about your plans for the day, say what you have prepared for breakfast, talk about the chores you are doing. While driving or going for a walk, make them aware of their environment.

I understand it is exhausting to follow every day. Believe in your child, one day he/she will respond. The possibilities are endless. We have to create opportunities.

Anecdote 2 (Featuring; Krish-older son, Girish-younger son with autism)

About 3-4 yrs back, one evening, my older son was studying for his test in two days, which was on clouds; he was particularly studying the ‘cumulonimbus’ cloud. I was explaining the causes of the formation of the cloud etc.

The next day, both the boys and I were outdoors, my older son, just out of curiosity, looked at the clouds and said, “I wonder what cloud is that”?.

I’m about to tell you this unbelievable part; Girish looks up and quickly says, “it is a Columbus cloud.” Krish and I looked at each other, shocked, not only because Girish was able to say the name of the cloud correctly though with a different pronunciation.

But the fact that shocked us was when Krish was studying about the clouds aloud, Girish was in a separate room watching TV. I had multiple celebrations in my mind; he observed as well as remembered about the clouds after so many hours.

Kids with autism grasp pieces of information from thin air. So, it’s a myth that “They are in their world.”

Strategy to dispel this autism myth-

Provide your child with lot of informations in bits ‘n’ pieces. You can read to him/her, have your child watch General knowledge videos, National Geographic etc.

Myth 2 : They can’t show empathy

This is another myth out there that kids with autism do not show compassion.

Empathy is the ability to feel for others, and mentally you put yourself in their place. This emotion develops with the maturity of the child.

Because for the kids with autism, there is a developmental delay, it is better not to wait for your child to develop this particular character trait of showing compassion. Gear up and begin teaching your child how to show empathy and dispel this autism myth.

You know your child better; he/she will undoubtedly have feelings but don’t know how to show/communicate empathy, and precisely that’s what we have to teach him/her.

Strategy to dispel this autism myth-

Building foundation with Thanks, Please and Sorry

Start by teaching them how to express their gratitude. As well as encourage your child to say please. These two simple yet powerful words lay a foundation to achieve our goal of showing compassion.

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Next in the foundation framework comes asking ‘Sorry.‘ Apologizing is a rather crucial social skill required to learn the feelings of others. Preparing your child how to apologize is a tricky one but not impossible.

Two things you can do is-

  • ABA – Talk to your ABA team and come up with a plan. A behavior analyst can help you by preparing a simple yet fun learning plan based on your child’s developmental stage.
  • Modeling – As a parent, you are the best teacher, you can ask ‘Sorry’ for simple things and demonstrate your feelings loudly. For eg., ‘Oh, I am sorry, I forgot to switch on TV for you. I feel sad that I kept you waiting.  

If your child has a sibling, bring him/her on board and come up with fun ideas.

When you introduce the word ‘Sorry’ and create apologizing scenarios at home, slowly, your child’s mind can have an understanding of empathy for others.

Conveying Thanks, Please, and Sorry; these three powerful words teach your child to consider other’s feelings.

Now, it’s time to introduce, “Are you OK?”.


ModelingYou might have noticed that I always ask you to do modeling. I say this because your child will learn the best when he/she is among the family members. Take advantage of this time to demonstrate skills your ASD child has to gain.

Encourage your child to ask this question to you or other family members, “Are you OK?”, it can be a time when you are coughing or act as if you are in pain then prompt your child to ask, “Are you OK?”.

My older son does excellent modeling, he would pretend he is crying, and I used to encourage my younger son to ask him, “Are you OK?” or “Don’t be sad.” As we have done consistent practice for the past two years, now Girish would come and console his brother by saying, “It’s OK, Krish, don’t be sad.” :))

Myth 3 : They have inappropriate behaviors

Behavior is your child’s approach to communicate with you. Your child’s behavior happens for a reason.

Try to overlook their negative behavior and discover what is bothering your child.

Merely by addressing your child, to stop negative behavior is not enough; instead, teaching your child the proper way to communicate will be helpful for him/her.

Also, try to find out why the behavior repeatedly occurs so that your child does not repeat in the future.

Inappropriate or challenging behavior occurs when the demands and expectations are placed upon a child exceed the skills they have to respond adaptively.

Myth dispelled-

The majority of children on the spectrum have disordered sensory issues. My son is no exception. He has sensory to loud noise, crowded area, and more. His way of communicating his uneasiness is closing his ears, and he will either cry or laugh non-stop.

His self-regulation is the most significant behavior barrier I find that impedes his learning process. Sometimes, it will be simple as; me his dad and brother will be having a loud discussion, or the TV is too loud.

For nearly 5 years, I have been teaching him to communicate what is bothering him (if only it were that easy). Instead of crying or laughing, he has to say; It’s too loud, can you talk slowly or walk away from the place. But, what happens is, when he is exposed to the sensory overload, it frustrates him, and he can’t self regulate or use words.

Strategy to dispel this autism myth-

  • Whenever he has an episode of meltdowns because of the sensory overload of sound, I give him some time to calm down then remind him to use words or teach him self-regulation tips.
  • After numerous reminders, my son, out of 5 times, at least once says, “Don’t talk so loud please.” (Yay! Mission accomplished!)
  • I also read social stories for him to use words and stay calm.
  • Throughout the day, I try to catch him whenever he communicates his feelings to boost his confidence.

Your child may have different challenging behavior to conquer. Try to discover the reason behind the action and then strive to attack it by demonstrating the appropriate behavior.

Yes, it is a struggle to conquer this challenge; however, it is not impossible.

Striving is essential and expected on the path of growth. 

Myth 4 : They can never learn

Every individual learns differently in this universe. One may gain knowledge by reading books, and others may get a better understanding by watching documentaries and so forth.

Myth dispelled-

Autism affects kids learning disabilities, but learning difficulties can be adequately addressed.

Every child has a unique method of learning different things. Discover the approach your child can grasp well. It could be with the help of audio or video.

Strategy to dispel this autism myth-

Sensory Issues –

Sensory processing plays a vital role in learning. When you make your son/daughter learn something, check for the sensory issues that may become a barrier for your child to focus like; check for sound, any tags in his clothes, smell that is bothering from your kitchen, and more.

Chunk the learning materials

Kids on the spectrum have a short attention span; therefore, make bite-size lesson plans.

Frequent sensory breaks

One of the most beneficial methods I have found that works productively with my son is to give him frequent sensory breaks. This is essential for my son to refresh himself and focus again.

Rewards

Rewarding is a tool for building skills in children with autism. Find out the highest reinforcer for your child and work around it.

Also Read: How to motivate autism students for schoolwork : 5 powerful strategies to try today.

Take away tips to dispel the 4 myths mentioned

Myth 1 : They are within their world

Strategy to dispel this autism myth- Keep talking to your child and make him/her aware of their environment even if he/she is not paying attention.

Myth 2 : They can’t show empathy

Strategy to dispel this autism myth- Teach your child to say, please, thank you, sorry and finally introduce, Are you OK?.

Myth 3 : They have inappropriate behaviors

Strategy to dispel this autism myth- Find out the reason behind the challenging behavior and teach your child to communicate about it.

Myth 4 : They can never learn

Strategy to dispel this autism myth- Discover how your child learns and follow frequent sensory breaks and reward.

My final thoughts

As knowledge and awareness of autism rises in the community, so do the myths. My son has dispelled only 4 of them. I aspire to motivate my son to dispel more autism myths in the coming years. I will keep you posted.

You also can dispel the autism myths and display improvements by striving hard. Striving has always been an essential part of any learning. My son would not be where he is today had my family not attempted, nor can I go where I want to go if I do not continue to strive.

So, parents Believe in yourself and

your child always.

Share your tips and tricks that has worked with your autistic child in the comments below. We all can help each other.


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