9 Key Autism Terms That Every Parent Should Know
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 68 children is identified with autism spectrum disorder. This group of complex developmental disorders affects a child’s ability to relate to others. Symptoms vary greatly between individuals, but may include struggles with communication and socially interacting with others. But with increased awareness of these conditions, parents of children on the spectrum can help their child reach their full potential. Here are nine key terms every parent of a child with autism should know.
9. Sensory Overload
Some children with autism are overly sensitive to sights, sounds, tastes, and touch. A sensory overload is too much sensory information for your child to process, and it can lead to your child experiencing stress and anxiety. It may affect a child’s willingness to wear certain fabric, eat foods of certain textures, or tolerate certain sounds. Specifically, vacuum cleaners, crowds, or even the buzzing sound from fluorescent lights may cause discomfort, which can result in noticeable behaviors such as clamping their hands over their ears and saying, “Too loud.”
8. Stimming and Stereotypy
Stimming, short for self-stimulating behavior, and sterotypy may refer to specific behaviors that include rocking, spinning, head-banging, hand-flapping, or other repetitive movements. Although experts cannot explain why stimming almost always accompanies autism, they largely agree that it is a practice for self-calming to manage sensory overload. Sometimes it becomes habitual, can be a distraction to others, and can create social issues. In some instances, it can even threaten harm to self or others. In such cases, the child needs help learning how to appropriately control their stimming. But these behaviors aren’t limited to those on the spectrum. Neurotypical people also engage in self-stimulating behaviors, such as biting their nails, tapping their feet, or twirling their hair.
It’s important to understand that a meltdown is not a naughty temper tantrum when it pertains to autism. A meltdown occurs when a person becomes completely overwhelmed by a situation and loses behavioral control. Behaviors sometimes include screaming, crying, kicking, or hitting. If you keep a diary of meltdowns to learn the triggers, you can learn to recognize the behaviors that indicate the child is feeling overwhelmed. Educate yourself about meltdowns, stay calm, and learn ways you might be able to short-circuit them.
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