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Living with autism, whether high-functioning autism or not, is more than what meets the eye. It is not just visits to the doctor, therapy sessions, and coping and treatment approaches. There is a rich tapestry of intricacies and experiences that often remain hidden from the average person’s perspective. Children with autism are on a spectrum that ranges from intellectual disability to brilliant. While each individual may have challenges, all have the potential to live rich, meaningful lives! Elon Musk, Lionel Messi, Bill Gates – these are only a few names of people who owned their autism and reached for the stars. But there is one more name.
In this piece, we take note of Alec, a young man who represents the world of high-functioning autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in Cynthia J. Girman’s Book, A Voice from Heaven.
We get to explore the challenges and tribulations faced by Alec and the strength with which he persevered. Cynthia Girman wishes to raise awareness, foster empathy, and inspire understanding of people with autism. Amid the judgments that often surround them, she aims to motivate and uplift them on this remarkable journey called LIFE. You can follow in her footsteps. Let’s explore how you can be of help to children with autism.
A Bit About Autism
Life is a journey full of unique experiences and challenges for all of us, and for individuals with autism, this journey can be both remarkable and demanding. Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts various aspects of an individual's life, including communication, social interaction, and behavior.
While each person with autism is unique, they often encounter common difficulties in navigating everyday tasks that most people take for granted. Let’s explore how to interact with and support individuals with autism, particularly children, in their daily routines with understanding and practical strategies.
1. Understanding Autism
To effectively assist children with autism, it’s essential to gain a deeper understanding of the condition. Autism is a spectrum, meaning that individuals may exhibit a wide range of characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses. Some may be extraordinarily gifted in a specific area (their “superpower”). It’s crucial to recognize that their behaviors and responses are not intentional but rather a result of their neurological symptoms.
2. Establishing a Structured Environment
Children living with autism often thrive in structured and predictable environments. Providing a routine with consistent schedules and clear expectations can be beneficial. Breaking down goals into small, manageable tasks and using supports, such as schedules, charts, or visual cues, can help children with autism navigate their daily routines more smoothly.
3. Effective Communication
Communication can be very challenging for individuals with autism. Here are some strategies to facilitate communication:
Use clear and concise language: Keep instructions simple, using concrete and specific terms. Avoid figures of speech, analogies, or abstract concepts.
Visual aids: Visual supports, such as picture cards or gesture prompts, can facilitate understanding and communication.
Social stories: Narratives that describe a situation, social cue, or expected behavior can help individuals with autism comprehend and navigate social interactions.
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC): Some individuals with autism may benefit from AAC tools, including sign language, communication boards, or speech-generating devices. Positive and calm speech patterns can be helpful.
4. Keeping Sensory Sensitivities in Mind:
Sensory sensitivities are common among individuals with autism. They may be hypersensitive or hyposensitive to sensory stimuli. Understanding and accommodating these sensitivities can make everyday tasks less overwhelming:
Create a sensory-friendly environment: Minimize excessive noise, provide comfortable seating and textures on the skin, control lighting, and reduce clutter to create calm and predictable surroundings.
Respect personal space: Be aware of an individual’s personal boundaries, as some may have a heightened need for personal space.
Teach social cues and skills: Use visual supports or role-playing to teach social cues, emotions, and appropriate social behavior, privately to avoid embarrassment.
Foster empathy and inclusion: Promote understanding and acceptance among peers by emphasizing the unique strengths and perspectives of individuals with autism. Make sure others understand that a child with autism may speak in a direct honest manner and not to take it personally.
Navigating everyday tasks can be a challenging journey for individuals with autism. By cultivating empathy and implementing practical strategies, we can help create an inclusive and supportive environment for children on the spectrum.
By reading Cynthia J. Girman’s Book, A Voice from Heaven, you’ll realize that every individual is unique from the perspective of Alec, who is the beloved son of the author. Alec and his mother’s love is a stark example of how children with autism should be seen as individuals living the same life as anyone else, but with a different perspective. Alec is portrayed in the book as an incredibly gifted and bright child who immerses himself in the intricacies of computer programming, which was his superpower.