Friday, 1 July 2022

5 tips for parents of recently diagnosed autistic children

When we were told that our first child was diagnosed with autism, we were handed a small bifold leaflet for the National Autistic Society and another for a local organisation that supported parents of children with disabilities. We were referred to Speech and Language and Occupational Therapy but that took a while to start and I didn't know much about what to do to help our son.  Before the kids were born I had a newborn checklist but there wasn't anything to help with what to do following their autism diagnosis.  Here's what I thought could go on such a list.  

Create a safe space

For our autistic children, the most important aspect of their lives is consistency. What this means is that they thrive off of routine, and knowing what to expect at all times. Home needs to be able to offer both physical safety and emotional safety for our kids. 

They require a safe space where they can go and unwind after a long day. Allowing our child to occupy their own space can help them to separate from the world around them and relax. This can help to reduce sensory overload and meltdowns that are often associated with autism. 

A safe space can be anything from a corner of the room to a tent. It can be as elaborate or as simple as you would like it to be and as unique as your child.   So whether it has sensory lights, massive cushions or just all their special items laid out in the right order... go with what works for them. 

Use a variety of ways to communicate

One of the most common traits of autistic children is communication difficulties. Autistic children may struggle to express their feelings verbally, and it can be difficult to understand them. However there are many forms of communication that can support them and you. Visual communication is a great way to combat this issue. You can use things like colour coding, photos, and even symbols. You can also teach and sign language from websites - we used Makaton for years.   These are not to replace verbal communication but assist our kids in understanding and being able to communicate their needs, wants and more.  It also makes it easier for them to understand others and helps them function better socially.

Don't fight alone

As you begin to navigate through life with your autistic child, you will likely come across many challenges. From dealing with other people's misconceptions to managing meltdowns and it can be difficult. As a parent, you want to do all that you can to help your child, seek support so you don't have to  fight battles alone.  Our family have always been very accepting and supportive, even if it's just ot listen to the struggles we may currently have.  

If family is not able to be supportive challenging, or even if they are, it doesn’t hurt to find a support group in your area and join to meet others who are going through the same thing as you.  This can help to create a network of people who know what you are going through and can offer some advice.  Sometimes it helps to know you and your child are not alone in their challenges. 

Help your child build a routine

Routines help many of us organise our lives and they particularly help our autistic children thrive. They  have a calming effect on them. This is because it provides them with a sense of stability and control in an otherwise unpredictable world. This can help to reduce anxiety and meltdowns for them. 

We try to build a routine into your child's day to help them learn how to manage their emotions and behaviour.   This can include sensory activities that can help your child relax. This can be anything from reading to colouring. It can also help to make items in your home consistent, such as keeping toys in the same place. This can help to provide your child with a sense of security. And who knows, you may find that it makes you feel more put together and calm as well.

Provide social support

Autistic children may struggle to build and maintain friendships. This can be due to anxiety, communication, difficulty understanding social cues or a plethora of other things. It is important that autistic children are supported in forming relationships whether that's with adults or their peers.  It's often easier for our kids to form a relationship with the adults at their school than an unknown child in the playground, but both can provide them with opportunities to grow or decide who they want to be around.  

We found an organisation called Skylarks, and amongst other things they can help provide a great environment where our kids can play and do activities around other children who might be similar to themselves and they may have a greater opportunity of understanding too. 

Thursday, 16 June 2022

One day son, you will be an autistic adult



All to often, the adults in conversations about autism are parents.  They are the parents of autistic children. Over 70 years ago, these adults were blamed for their children's conditions.  Autism was due to bad parenting.  Recent studies have no called them 'super parents'.  As a parents of autistic children I needed help to understand them and I still need help to work with them and help them engage in the world around them.  But I'm very much aware that one day I will not be the only adult in the conversation in the future.  The other adults will be my children. Because autistic children become autistic adults.

Monday, 30 May 2022

Ideas to help our autistic kids celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee


Finally it's the weather for outdoor parties and celebrations - and the Jubilee is right around the corner! Big festivals and street parties are currently not something we could consider going to as there's usually a lot going on and our autistic kids can struggle with this and all the sensory input. So why not take advantage and enjoyed a little autism friendly mini party or festival in your own garden.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

The books that helped us as our autistic kids grew up; from pre-school to teenager


I was pretty sure that our eldest was autistic before he was diagnosed. But it was still an odd feeling to hear it confirmed.  The paediatrician seemed to be expecting tears or questions and it made me feel nervous - it made the diagnosis feel like an occasion.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Supporting an autism mum through pregnancy

Being a parent to my autistic and neurotypical kids is definitely the best and hardest thing I have ever done.  They are amazing little people - except for Anthony of course as he's now an amazing tall person since he became a teenager!  I was pregnant with our second son, David, when we were sat in the Paedatrician's office and autism was first mentioned by the professionals.  The Paediatrician said that it was possible that autism was genetic but they don't really know.  

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Fun planting activity to help kids learn

Jane with compost

Spring is definitely here - infact it has almost felt like summer recently! Understanding the world around us is one of the fundamental areas of learning for all kids.  Many autistic kids like ours need concrete or physical activities to engage them and help them learn. So if we are want to learn about growing, then the best thing to do is actually grow something.

Friday, 15 April 2022

Vegan burrowing Bunny Cupcakes activity for Easter


There's always plenty of food involved in Easter.  The kids love the Easter egg hunt in the garden and then there are the hundreds of hot cross buns consumed (one of Anthony's favourite snacks that are thankfully available all year round).  This year we're re-inventing our burrowing bunny cupcakes that help with their spatial reasoning, motor skills development as a vegan treat with Oreos to boot. 

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Things to help me when life feels stressful

Woman sitting on a wondow sill

Stress can unbalance our emotions, and it can also make it much more difficult to react calmly to a situation. I've things, important things going on, and most of them I can't control.  I sometimes feel as though stress is slowly taking control of our lives and have to think of what I can do to release some of the pressure that's locked inside.  

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

About some other mothers for Mother's Day


As mother's Day approaches, I looked back through my blog to see what I've written in the past. I thought abut doing a nice gift or garden growing activity for my Mother's Day post, but instead I looked back through at posts that weren't about mother's Days, but were instead about mothers.

Have a look at our most recent posts:

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