A lot experts might say that children with autism do not have the ability to give or receive affection from a loved one. In a lot of cases of children with autism this may appear to be true. There exists many stories to the contrary as well. Since we just talked about tactile stimulation, I thought i would get that out of the way right now. It is true that children with autism process touch different than the rest of us. So it is a common misconception that they simply do not like to be touched. To say this is a one size fits all diagnosis is absurd. Children with autism are just as different as everyone else in this world. They could be hyper or hypo sensitive to touch. You know your child and can make that determination.
When attempting to show physical affection the first thing you want to keep in mind, is that you probably don't want it to be a surprise event. Startling autistic children could lead to horrible consequences. Start small and go from their. Maybe start with a light hand on the shoulder and work your way up to a gentle hug. If your child is hypo sensitive, they may want a giant bear hug right from the start. It's going to take a little playing around with. I think you would agree that the reward is worth it.
You can also make sure that the child has an open invitation to come to you. Maybe let them warm up to the idea for a while. Before they go to bed at night, simply stand with your arms outstretched inviting a hug. Let them explore what you are doing. Let the autistic child choose if they want to reciprocate. Could make for quite the comedy if they just did the same thing back to you. Just allow them plenty of opportunities to express their affection towards you. Don't be offended or discouraged if they do not take you up on your offers.
If touch is simply out of the question then you are still not out of luck. Make sure that you use lots of smiles and positive gestures. Since a lot of children with autism have trouble picking up on social cues, you may need to over dramatize these a bit. Show your love in this manner.
The last thing you want to do is inform everyone in the child's life about what practices you are putting into place. You want everyone who might want to engage in these activities to be doing it right. You don't want your work to be undone by some one with good intentions. Ignorance is the opposite of bliss in this situation.
These are just some more suggestions to try with children with autism. Remember the symbol for autism is a puzzle piece for a reason. See what you can do with them.
More information and resources about Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders can be found at my website http://www.autismspectrumresources.blogspot.com.
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