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3 Ways to Best Support Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder  

Therapist using sculpting activity working to support kids with autism.
We all know someone on the autism spectrum, but how well do you understand the many facets of autism spectrum disorder itself? Check out our latest blog post on ASD, which includes some small changes you can make to support kids with autism spectrum disorder.

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All of us have a friend or family member with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD,) whether we know it or not. The better we understand the diagnosis, the better we can support kids with autism spectrum disorder. For decades now, there’s been rising awareness of ASD and the way it impacts those who are on the spectrum, everywhere from the classroom to the playground. However, many of us have an understanding of ASD that is purely anecdotal, but ASD is a more nuanced and complex disorder than you may realize. 

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?  

Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD for short, is “a complex developmental disability that typically appears during early childhood and can impact a child’s social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation.” Though this definition is clinically accurate, it fails to paint a comprehensive, human picture of what life with ASD is like.  

Autism Spectrum Disorder is Common  

In a 2020 CDC report, ASD was estimated to affect 1 in 54 people. As autism is a lifelong condition, this means 1 in 54 kids are on the spectrum. In other terms, this study found one student out of every two NYC classrooms has ASD. Though statistics can be difficult to put in perspective, 1 in 54 means ASD is extremely prevalent. No less, this estimate also implies ASD was diagnosed amongst kids in 2020 at a three times higher rate than in the year 2000.  

Why Should I Care? 

 And tips on how you can support kids with autism spectrum disorder.

  1. Knowledge of ASD and its many faces and features allows us to better understand and include our friends, classmates, and neighbors on the spectrum. 
    1. Because ASD can make it difficult for children to decipher non-verbal cues (e.g., facial expressions, gestures) and adapt to changes from routine, being consistent in how and when you communicate can be a huge help. 
    2. Along the same vein as the former tip, understanding your child’s routine is paramount, so that you may become a part of it, as opposed to a disruption. 
    3. When appropriate, use pictures, sounds, gestures or facial expressions, as a means to encourage and practice interaction with others. Exercises like these will provide insights into your child’s unique capacity for non-verbal communication. No less, your knowledge of what works best for your child may come in handy in the classroom too! 
  2. By knowing the signs of ASD, you may recognize them in your child. Early detection is thought to increase quality of life, bolster academic success, and reduce the lifelong monetary cost of ASD by one-third

Pro-Tip: If your child is diagnosed with ASD, or if you suspect they may have ASD, your child likely qualifies for an IEP (perhaps one of the most effective ways to support kids with autism spectrum disorder at school.)

What Does ASD Look Like?  

Signs of autism are innumerable, and many signs depend on the age of the person with ASD. However, some of the most common signs of ASD amongst kids are:    

  • Avoiding eye contact  
  • Delayed speech and communication skills  
  • Reliance on rules and routines  
  • Being upset by relatively minor changes  
  • Unexpected reactions to sounds, tastes, sights, touch and smells  
  • Difficulty understanding other people’s emotions  
  • Focusing on or becoming obsessed by a narrow range of interests or objects
  • Engaging in repetitive behavior (e.g., flapping hands or rocking)  
  • Children not responding to their name by 12 months  
  • Children not pointing at distant objects by 14 months    

All of us should work harder to ensure children (and adults) with ASD are included wholly and comfortably. With greater awareness and understanding from those of us who don’t have ASD, we can make the classroom–and world a more equitable place. Moreover, the modifications we can make in the way we interact with kids with ASD are small but greatly appreciated. In the long run, you’ll save both the person you’re talking to and yourself from? frustration.         

And remember… “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” We must listen to the individual experiences of our community members with a– everyone’s experience is unique and deserves to be heard.  

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