Autism can appear in any child, and the family has to learn to play catch-up, even if they’ve never been around someone with autism before.  Although their child is still the same person they’ve known and loved as long as the child has been alive: this diagnosis gives their family precious insight into the behaviors they’ve seen.

Children with autism are as varied as children without it, and every child’s case is unique.  Here are the top three ways you can get closer to understanding your child, regardless of where they are on the spectrum.

Learn How They Communicate

Forty percent of children with autism are nonverbal; it’s one of the most significant symptoms that can show up and make parents start seeking help.  Because of their lack of speaking, it can seem not easy to communicate and get on their level.  That shouldn’t be the case!  These kids still want to share with you and the world around them, but it has to be done at their level to start with.

One way some parents get to interact with their kids is in physical ways.  Playing and having fun outside or making chores or other fight topics into games can help with interactions.  All parents eventually learn their children’s communication style over time, so be there to listen.

Show An Interest In What They Care About

Although the media will paint every child with autism as a five-year-old obsessed with trains, some small bits of truth is behind it.  Many children on the spectrum gain special interests that excite them and take up a lot of their mental energy.

Although some neurotypical parents try to intervene and use this particular interest as a reward or chip their child has to gain: this isn’t always healthy.  Instead, take an interest in their specific interest and learn to view it as a thing of stress relief and joy.  You can reward your child with items or experiences that pertain to this particular interest, but don’t let that be the only way you interact with them with it.

Celebrate their interests and try to learn why this has a draw on them and how you can help make it even more exciting.

Be Patient, Even If They Aren’t

Children with autism can get quickly frustrated and impatient when they feel misunderstood.  Every good ABA therapy clinic teaches that instead of getting frustrated with them, this is the time for you to step up your game and notice what’s happening.  What triggered the episode?  How can you avoid it, or help them through it, in the future?  Instead of getting caught up in the moment and letting your emotions and frustrations pop forward, please take a moment to learn about them and what’s going on in their minds.

These are kids, after all, and kids aren’t born with all of the coping mechanisms and patience that we have after we reach adulthood.  This is even more true with children with autism.  Take your time, work through problems with them, and figure out ways to help ease these symptoms in the future.