Wednesday January 9, 2013
Coping with ASD
Engage more with an autistic child and help him improve his communication skills.
THE most important thing that parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) should understand is that it is a developmental disorder that affects a child’s communication skills.
According to speech-language therapist Lee Kong Meng, unlike speech delay, which is developmentally normal, ASD is a continuous, life-altering condition.
“Autism is a complex neuro-biological disorder of development that lasts throughout a person’s life.
“It can sometimes be called a development disability and can be diagnosed in a child as early as one to two years old,” says Lee, who currently runs his own speech therapy centre, Speech Beacon, in Selangor.
He adds that children with ASD are diagnosed based on their language, behavioural, communication, and play and social skills.
His main advice to parents who have children diagnosed with ASD is simply to spend more time nurturing them.
“The most fundamental way for parents to help stimulate speech and communication with their kids would be by spending time with them and continuously engaging them in various meaningful interactions.
“For example, if your child likes to draw, you can join him/her and draw together while talking about the drawing. Suggesting items like using coloured pencils or crayons and what colour to use on certain objects are just many ways to gain a positive response from your child,” says Lee.
While parents can join their children in certain activities and successfully gain a reaction from them, most kids with ASD, however, would not welcome company when they are playing by themselves.
“They may prefer to play with their toys and games on their own. Parents need to be persistent but in an encouraging way. Once you are able to connect with your child on their personal level, the child will find it easier to learn from you,” Lee explains.
“Every kid with ASD is different in terms of their verbal ability, language and communication skills. As a parent, you will need to first understand your child’s profile. Based on this understanding you have to set realistic expectations for them to achieve.
“For example, if your child doesn’t establish a verbal ability soon enough, you should think of an alternative mode of communication, such as gestures or pictures while also trying to stimulate his/her speech.
“If you have been pushing for verbal communication for a long period of time and have yet to see progress, it might be time to consider alternative communication tools.”
For more tips on how to communicate with autistic children, go to ParenThots.
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I’d Listen To My Parents If They’d Just Shut Up gives parents a reality check on communicating with their teenage children.
Big or intimate parties?
Should you have a lavish themed birthday party for your child, or just a small do? Two parents share their opinions.
Mother-of-two Mazwin Abdul Muin believes that celebrating birthdays in a big way is good if one can afford it.
“It’s nice to see the smiles on children’s faces when they are being entertained with clowns, a magician and other activities but we must also be careful that we don’t spoil them,” she says.
TV host Serina Redzuawan, also a mother of two, agrees that celebrating birthdays in a big way is important because “it comes only once a year, and it is a celebration with our loved ones. I feel blessed seeing our kids happy and feeling special on that day”.
What do you think? Share your opinions on the ParenThots Issues blog.