Backwards and backwards

Raising an autistic child can be like learning to walk backwards and backwards. What does a parent do with a child who started reading at 2 but can’t seem to ask about his needs at 3? As she worked on simple sentences such as “Juice please”, “more please” and “milk please” to help my son communicate his needs to us, he amazed us with his amazing reading ability and complex word spelling. like “astronaut” in magnetic letters on our fridge. These mixed signals of intelligence sometimes confused and perplexed me as a parent. At first, he didn’t know if he was raising a genius or a stubborn idiot.

Maybe your little one has also stumped you and you have wondered how to reach him or her, how to communicate with him well enough to teach him to go to the bathroom. Oh, how difficult it was to learn to go to the bathroom for my son! It took me 2 years to try every method I could find, and then a week of what we call “Potty Training Camp.” I literally spent 5 hours a day for 5 days in a row “camping” in the bathroom with my son just to have him pee or poop in the toilet or on the potty properly. We used the laptop with us in the bathroom to play training songs and educational videos, and we rewarded him with time away from the bathroom when he peed or pooped on the potty or toilet. Now you are completely dry during the day and can tell us when you need to go to the bathroom! My best advice to you if you are trying to potty train your little one is to figure out what motivates your child best and how he learns best, and incorporate both into your approach. My son reads well, so we included a step-by-step instruction sheet on how to use the potty, and he loves the videos, so we also used potty songs and instructional videos.

When my son was first diagnosed with PDD NOS with autistic traits at age 3, I didn’t know what to do to help him. Websites and friends’ advice, opinions and facts, and mountains of information overwhelmed my husband and me. We chose to send him to a special education preschool through our local school district. He has attended that program for 6 months, has an IEP, and was integrated or placed in a regular preschool class last year. He shows remarkable improvements in his ability to pronounce words and sentences now, and we owe that to the special education team throughout the public school system. Now, he will turn 5 this summer and attend kindergarten this fall.

If you suspect your child may have autism, call your local school district and have them tested. Many resources are now available for free through local school districts for children with autism, and that’s a great place to start if you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you need help analyzing all the tips and information out there, I’m here to help. Each child is unique and may need different resources depending on how their autism affects them and you, and some tips are better than others. Don’t lose hope that your child is not leading a “normal” life. In reality, your child is also extraordinary and special in many wonderful ways. Love them unconditionally, stand up for them and enjoy the ride! Learn to walk backwards and backwards.

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