Sunday, August 7, 2011

Three Tips for Coping With Autism During a Family Crisis

Coping with autism can be difficult in many ways, for many reasons. There is the day-to-day stuff that is always difficult - dealing with tantrums and resistance, sensory issues, bullies at school. But what about when your family is going through something really serious like a serious illness in the family? How do you manage to cope with autism and reassure your child that everything is going to be all right when you yourself don't even know if that will be the case?

Coping with Autism When a Family Illness Affects Your Child with Autism

A child with autism is very sensitive to change in the house. They want everything to go just so and be the way it always is. But when someone gets sick, a lot of the routines often change. At times like this coping with autism can become overwhelming.

The family member can't do the same things as they were able to before. They sometimes will need others to take over duties they didn't used to do. The temperament can change; the illness might cause them to be tired all the time, or maybe short-tempered and angry. These are all things that the child with autism, as well as everyone else in the house, will have to get used to.

Dealing with Change Is Just Another Part Of Coping With Autism

Of course, there is a lot of worry about...will the person get better, and if so, when. Then there are family members with very serious illnesses, and this brings out the fear of dying. For some, it is not a question of if it will happen but of when.

Helping Kids With Autism Cope

A kid with autism might react to all this in a number of ways. They may become more clingy and anxious. They may act out and show signs of anger. They may become withdrawn.

Some kids with autism will have difficulty going to the hospital to visit loved ones; hospitals can be overwhelming, with lots of noise, activity, smells and things going on.

So how can you help your child with autism cope?

Here are three ways of coping with autism in this situation.

1. Give the child with autism a sense of stability

To help your child cope with autism, try to plan one thing during their day that never changes. One thing that they can look forward to, every day, that will be an oasis of sorts from all the changes and uncertainty happening all around them. Don't worry, this can be something quite simple, like reading a story at bedtime, going for a morning walk when they get up, or making hot chocolate just before bed - you're going for some sort of dependable routine.

2. Let them express their feelings

During this time you have together with them, be sure to give them time to express their feelings, and vent whatever is on their mind. This might be when the questions like "Is Mom going to get better?" or "Why does Daddy snap at me all the time now?" and so on will come out. You should give gentle, age appropriate answers, assuring your child that the sick person still loves them and will always love them, no matter what happens.

3. Keep the lines of communication open

This is important in any situation where you are coping with autism. If there is a chance of death, talk openly and explicitly with your child about it. Use literal and factual language instead of metaphors and euphemisms. Do not use nuanced explicit. Children with autism often have difficulty understanding language that is indirect. Be very clear and specific about what you mean and ask your child with autism to repeat back what they understood you to say.

Coping with autism is hard in many situations, but can become quite a struggle when dealing with the serious illness of a family member...but with patience and love, your child with autism can cope even in these difficult times.

Hopefully, with some luck (and hard work) you will find the autism support and resources that can make life a little easier for your family and your child with autism. For additional tips and suggestions that can help your loved one live a fulfilling and happy life visit the There you can sign up for their FREE newsletter with tips and info on autism.

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