Let us learn some common myths about autism from the parent of a child on spectrum and renowned parent councilor Dr Sumana Bhattacharya.
Thank you Doctor for sharing your personal experience for the benefit of wonderful parents accross the globe. We hope these myths about autism breaks some common miss conceptions.
4 Autism myths my son dispelled and displayed improvements :
Autism journey is an emotional roller coaster ride with hard decisions to make besides digest the fact of your child’s future. This situation becomes further hurtful when you overhear many autism myths that not only confuse you but scare you too.
Nevertheless, please don’t despair. With a lot of dedication and strategies to strive, you can dispel the common autism myths and see significant progress in your child. Today, I would like to share with you 4 autism myths my son dispelled and displayed improvements, which is the outcome of various therapies and strategies that I have followed for the past 10 years to achieve this level.
Myth 1 : They are within their world :
Children with autism do not interact with you, which does not signify that they are within their domain. Know that your child is listening to you even though he/she is looking far away or playing with his toys.
Sometimes you will miss noticing as we usually expect our kids to have eye contact with us.
I want to share two anecdotes to dispel this myth.
1.When Priyotosh, my son with autism, started his school at the age of three, he was intense on the spectrum and nonverbal and intellectually a baby of 15 months, perhaps.
Ever since his diagnosis after 3 years me accepting the fact I made sure to keep conversing with him in every possible situation. I enact as his mind.
While riding towards his school, there were many things around. I used to point out and tell him everything I saw. “Trees” Of course, some days I did, some days I didn’t. I am not sure if he even heard me or saw me pointing to the flowers. After a few months, his dad dropped him to school, and Priyo pointed out to those Trees and said: “ree” (that was the first time he has ever pointed out to something).
I regard conversing with your child to be a powerful tool for him/her to thrive.
Keep talking to your child in every possible situation.
Ignore the point that he/she is not responding to you or is busy with something else but know the fact that he/she is listening. As you converse, imagine so many things are getting registered in your child’s mind.
Just start the day by greeting the child, ask if the child slept well, talk about your plans for the day, say what you have prepared for breakfast, talk about the chores you are doing. While driving or going for a walk, make them aware of their environment.
I understand it is exhausting to follow every day. Believe in your child, one day he/she will respond. The possibilities are endless. We have to create opportunities.
- About 3-4 yrs back, one evening, my younger daughter was studying for his test in two days, which was on clouds; she was particularly studying the ‘cumulonimbus’ cloud. I was explaining the causes of the formation of the cloud etc.
The next day, both my kids and I were outdoors, my daughter, just out of curiosity, looked at the clouds and said, “I wonder what cloud is that”?.
I’m about to tell you this unbelievable part; Priyo looks up and quickly says, “it is a Columbus cloud.” My daughter and I looked at each other, shocked, not only because Priyo was able to say the name of the cloud correctly though with a different pronunciation.
Provide your child with lot of informations in bits ‘n’ pieces. You can read to him/her, have your child watch General knowledge videos, National Geographic etc.
Myth 2 : They can’t show empathy:
This is another myth out there that kids with autism do not show compassion.
Empathy is the ability to feel for others, and mentally you put yourself in their place. This emotion develops with the maturity of the child.
Because for the kids with autism, there is a developmental delay, it is better not to wait for your child to develop this particular character trait of showing compassion. Gear up and begin teaching your child how to show empathy and dispel this autism myth.
You know your child better; he/she will undoubtedly have feelings but don’t know how to show/communicate empathy, and precisely that’s what we have to teach him/her.
Building foundation with THANKS, PLEASE AND SORRY –
Start by teaching them how to express their gratitude. As well as encourage your child to say please. These two simple yet powerful words lay a foundation to achieve our goal of showing compassion.
Next in the foundation framework comes asking ‘Sorry.‘ Apologizing is a rather crucial social skill required to learn the feelings of others. Preparing your child how to apologize is a tricky one but not impossible.
As a parent, you are the best teacher, you can ask ‘Sorry’ for simple things and demonstrate your feelings loudly.
LFor eg., ‘Oh, I am sorry, I forgot to switch on TV for you. I feel sad that I kept you waiting.
If your child has a sibling, bring him/her on board and come up with fun ideas.
When you introduce the word ‘Sorry’ and create apologizing scenarios at home, slowly, your child’s mind can have an understanding of empathy for others.
Conveying Thanks, Please, and Sorry; these three powerful words teach your child to consider other’s feelings.
Now, it’s time to introduce, “Are you OK?”.
Your child will learn the best when he/she is among the family members. Take advantage of this time to demonstrate skills your ASD child has to gain.
Encourage your child to ask this question to you or other family members, “Are you OK?”, it can be a time when you are coughing or act as if you are in pain then prompt your child to ask, “Are you OK?”.
My daughter does excellent modeling, she would pretend she is crying, and I used to encourage my younger son to ask him, “Are you OK?” or “Don’t be sad.” As we have done consistent practice for the past two years, now Priyo would come and console his sister by saying, “It’s OK, Chotu, don’t be sad.” :))
Myth 3 : They have inappropriate behaviors
Behavior is your child’s approach to communicate with you. Your child’s behavior happens for a reason.
Try to overlook their negative behavior and discover what is bothering your child.
Merely by addressing your child, to stop negative behavior is not enough; instead, teaching your child the proper way to communicate will be helpful for him/her.
Also, try to find out why the behavior repeatedly occurs so that your child does not repeat in the future.
Inappropriate or challenging behavior occurs when the demands and expectations are placed upon a child exceed the skills they have to respond adaptively.
The majority of children on the spectrum have disordered sensory issues. My son is no exception. He had sensory to loud noise, crowded area, and more. His way of communicating his uneasiness was closing his ears, and he would either cry or laugh non-stop.
For nearly 5 years, I have been teaching him to communicate what is bothering him (if only it were that easy). Instead of crying or laughing, he has to say; It’s too loud, can you talk slowly or walk away from the place. But, what happens is, when he is exposed to the sensory overload, it frustrates him, and he can’t self regulate or use words.
Whenever he has an episode of meltdowns because of the sensory overload of sound, I give him some time to calm down then remind him to use words or teach him self-regulation tips.
After numerous reminders, my son, out of 5 times, at least once says, “Don’t talk so loud please.” (Yay! Mission accomplished!)
I also read social stories for him to use words and stay calm.
Throughout the day, I try to catch him whenever he communicates his feelings to boost his confidence.
Your child may have different challenging behavior to conquer. Try to discover the reason behind the action and then strive to attack it by demonstrating the appropriate behavior.
Yes, it is a struggle to conquer this challenge; however, it is not impossible.
Striving is essential and expected on the path of growth.
Myth 4 : They can never learn
Every individual learns differently in this universe. One may gain knowledge by reading books, and others may get a better understanding by watching documentaries and so forth.
Autism affects kids learning disabilities, but learning difficulties can be adequately addressed.
Every child has a unique method of learning different things. Discover the approach your child can grasp well. It could be with the help of audio or video.
Sensory Issues –
Sensory processing plays a vital role in learning. When you make your son/daughter learn something, check for the sensory issues that may become a barrier for your child to focus like; check for sound, any tags in his clothes, smell that is bothering from your kitchen, and more.
Check the info about Sensory Processing –
Kids on the spectrum have a short attention span; therefore, make bite-size lesson plans.
Frequent sensory breaks –
One of the most beneficial methods I have found that works productively with my son is to give him frequent sensory breaks. This is essential for my son to refresh himself and focus again.
Rewarding is a tool for building skills in children with autism. Find out the highest reinforcer for your child and work around it.
Take away tips to dispel the 4 myths mentioned
- Myth 1 : They are within their world
- Strategy to dispel this autism myth- Keep talking to your child and make him/her aware of their environment even if he/she is not paying attention.
- Myth 2 : They can’t show empathy
- Strategy to dispel this autism myth- Teach your child to say, please, thank you, sorry and finally introduce, Are you OK?.
- Myth 3 : They have inappropriate behaviors
- Strategy to dispel this autism myth- Find out the reason behind the challenging behavior and teach your child to communicate about it.
- Myth 4 : They can never learn
- Strategy to dispel this autism myth- Discover how your child learns and follow frequent sensory breaks and reward.
My final thoughts
As knowledge and awareness of autism rises in the community, so do the myths. My son has dispelled only 4 of them. I aspire to motivate my son to dispel more autism myths in the coming years. I will keep you posted.
You also can dispel the autism myths and display improvements by striving hard. Striving has always been an essential part of any learning. My son would not be where he is today had my family not attempted, nor can I go where I want to go if I do not continue to strive.
So, parents Believe in yourself and
your child always.
Accept them with open ❤.
By Dr Sumana Bhattacharya – Renowned Parent Counselor
I am a proud Mother of 14 year old son. I was blessed with a son at the age of 24. it was a C section delivery.
But I was on medication for one whole day to get the pain but since there was no pain they decided for C section.
He weighed 3kg at birth and reached all his milestones on time.
At the age of 18 months old we got him typhoid vaccine. on that day my baby cried whole night holding his ears.
From next day he started crying for high volume sounds, crowds and playing outside.
Then he became completely mum…. no response to his name, nor playing with toys, no eye contact etc.
He was diagnosed with borderline autism when he was 2.5 years old and those days Autism was an alien term way back in 2008 and the only diagnosis that doctor could do is my child is MR.
I was shattered and devastated.
Those days I was just an internee and barely knew anything about this.
For 3 years I went numb n depressed thinking this cannot happen.
I took it as a challenge and put my 100% to prove doctors wrong.
I never sent him to any therapy nor gave medications.
All his behavioral problems, cognitive behavior, sensory issues, hyperactivity… I controlled without any therapy by treating him as a normal child, proper diet and strict discipline.
I had to face lot of family criticism as well.
I was blessed with a daughter too and she is the therapist who pulled her brother in everything she did.
He learnt everything from his little sister from brushing teeth to toilet habits.
For him his sister is his world.
The first word he uttered was baby when he was 8. Used to keep repeating the same word.
He called me momma when he was 10 and slowly his need based speech started.
He was always treated normal n would be punished for mischief and rewarded for good things.
He overcame all challenges except communication speech like why,when n how?
Now he is improving on that aspect too gradually.
Now,his school teacher gave me a feed back saying are you sure your son is under spectrum? When I said yes,she said get assessment done again,he is nowhere a spectrum kid which was great victory to me.
She also said that his speech is very clear and his personality development is happening.
Now he wants to be treated as a 14 year boy,not like a kid which was melody to my ears.
My sons speech is improving a lot along with his understanding.
Long way to go….but I trust my motherly instinct and will never give up.
Wishing each and every child a speedy recovery.🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼