How can i help my 2 year old autistic cousin?
I just heard from my aunt that my 2 year old cousin was diagnosed today with autism. I did some research online, and didn’t really find the answer to what I’m looking for. My question is for the ones who’s had experience with autism how can I help? Unfortunately she lives in another country, but I want to help anyway I can.
Thank you for your help.
Hi, I’m a 36 year-old male diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome 5 years ago (unexpectedly) with an autistic older sister and an autistic nephew. I’m not sure if your cousin is male or female, so I’ll just use “him.”
Windy was unable to recall the name of Temple Grandin, just to get that out of the way.
Sensory issues are a very important thing to understand, and yes, it varies from person to person: I have almost no sense of smell (anything I’ve detected with my nose, I hate, so that may be a good thing most of the time) I’m light-sensitive, and very sensitive to many types of noises and frequencies, far beyond “normal” and also tactile sensory issues, where certain things against my skin can cause nasty sensations, from a horrible chill (velvet, at least when rubbed a certain way when younger) to nausea (sunscreen) to also being unable to sense my body’s movements very well (proprioceptive senses are whacked) and having a heck of a time with the coordination, as a result, including that of speech (spent several years in speech therapy, but things degrade a lot during sensory overload [a term you should look up] so it’s much harder to understand me) and then there’s tastes that I react to violently (toothpastes of many types make me gag/vomit strongly, can’t help it much) so that causes a few practical issues.
1. So, first, try to decipher what the sensory issues are.
2. Don’t punish him for his reality of sensory overload: figure out a way to help him recover from it.
3. Frustration/strong feelings can also add to sensory overload: help him figure out how to communicate, in whatever way he can. It’s entirely possible that speech may be outside his ready grasp due to sensory issues (I have a hard time making sense of speech at times, and it’s worse with sensory overload) and keep in mind, being non-verbal does NOT mean lacking intelligence, it just means not being able to process things well.
4. Teach him proper survival skills like everyone else, as feasible for his level of ability.
5. Work with him for developing coordination and training muscle memory: this is something that tends to be very difficult for those on the autistic spectrum: expect that it’s probable what you consider to be a simple mechanical thing to do will take him a lot longer to master. As an example, I started working with computer keyboards and typing on them on a regular basis at a young age, never had a formal typing class (special education department had other plans, and they clearly could never conceive of me programming computers for a living) and it took me 14 years to go from hunt-and-peck-while-looking to doing touch-typing sustainable over 40 wpm (people watching me have said they’ve seen me do bursts in excess of 80 wpm). For me, handwriting is an nightmare, so I’m very thankful for computers being available. I’m also a little dyslexic, too… Also, involve him in as many larger muscle group physical activities as possible: you can’t build balance and coordination from watching on the sidelines, and it’s especially true with us.
6. There’s something called “executive dysfunction” which also affects motor skills planning, and it helps if you can master the art of writing down plans and figuring out the smaller steps, and just master the art of organizing things.
7. Keep him away from such terrible sites and groups as “Defeat Autism Now,” “Cure Autism Now” and “Autism Speaks” because they only have the goal of eradicating autistics off the face of the earth by any means necessary in a politically-correct sheep’s clothing format. They see autism as a disease and an epidemic, spout horrible things, etc. And don’t do anything good towards those that are actually autistic: their definition of success is an autistic that acts as a neurotypical person, never mind that the autistic person can’t function properly that way, it’s stressful, and bad for self-esteem to live that lie. Ask yourself: would you want any group speaking for you and insisting on you doing things, if you yourself (part of the group they presume to speak for) would never be allowed into their leadership? There’s a reason they don’t want that: they’re afraid of it, and for good reason. Whenever anything of a “Therapy” or “Treatment” is proposed, consider if you’d want it done to you, if you had a choice. Many autistics are forced into such things that they’d never agree to as an adult. Speech therapy and Occupational therapy are good ones: ABA is often a horrible thing, and wouldn’t be allowed on normal kids because it’d be considered cruel.
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