Finding out that your child has an autism spectrum disorder is life changing. Not only will you have to do a complete 180 on your lifestyle, but you’ll also have to find a way to make your child’s environment as safe as possible for them.
It’s not going to be an easy road, and in most cases, it is a life-long struggle, but there are ways to cope as a parent. You don’t have to figure things out on your own because others are going through what you and your child are going through, as well.
When in School
For your child to have as normal a life as possible, he or she has to experience the outside world. Going to school is one of the best ways to learn how to interact with other people. Your child can go to a school that caters to children with special needs, or they can go to a school alongside typically developing kids.
Either way, they will be away from their parents for hours each day. It is during those hours that parents will not be able to control their child’s environment. Unfortunately, children with autism tend to be the target of bullying because they are different from everyone else.
It is their difference that makes them unique, yet it is their difference that can cause them pain. Children with autism don’t even understand what they did wrong that made others dislike them enough to call them names. Instead of being a place of learning, schools then become a place that they can’t wait to get away from.
High-functioning children are especially targeted because they can interact with their peers, but their quirks still set them apart. Because it is harder to see that they are different from their typically developing peers, they are an even bigger target for bullies who can’t understand why children with their condition can’t act like them.
How to Tell if Your Child is a Victim
For parents of children with autism, the younger their kids are, the easier it is for them to tell if their kids are victims of bullying. A child will be more likely to tell his or her parents without much prompting, as the bullying is an entirely new experience for him or her. As the child grows older, his or her growing need for independence will affect his or her decision to tell the parents.
As parents, you’ll have to observe any difference in your child’s behavior keenly. Check for any physical injuries such as cuts and bruises. When the bullying isn’t done physically, check for cues that may be different from what you perceive as normal behavior for your child, such as hesitancy in going to school or emotional changes like anger and depression.
Another way you can find out is through conversations. Children in the autism spectrum disorder will usually have trouble communicating properly, which is why you’ll have to lead the conversation.
What You Can Do for Your Child
If you have managed to establish that your child is being bullied, go straight to the school’s administration. Bullying is a serious crime, and if left alone, it could escalate and spread.
Another way to help your child is to get him or her treatment and therapy. Autism cannot be cured, but it can be treated enough for the child to be able to function among his or her typically developed peers. Not all children with autism spectrum disorder are exactly alike, which is why there are different treatments in place to help them cope with their situation and environment.
At ABC Pediatrics, we specialize in helping children through reinforcement of positive behaviors and social interactions. We can help your child to understand the world around them enough to be able to live in it so that they can hold their own when they decide to be independent.
If you and your child are in need of our services, contact us by filling out our form or giving us a call.