Archive for March, 2011
One of the hallmark symptoms of children with a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum are deficits in social skills. A child’s difficulties with social skills has a huge impact on their ability to be accepted socially. Specifically, children on the Autism Spectrum, whether the diagnosis is Autism, Asperger’s, or PDD NOS, they struggle with understanding social cues and the thoughts and feelings of other children. They typically have difficulty as well in modulating their emotions, which for adults often translates into inappropriate behaviors. Children with Autism often do not take turns, can not hold a conversation with another child, and do not make eye contact with those with whom they are speaking. In addition, a number of kids with Autism lack an ability to understand the consequences of their own behavior and how their behaviors affect those around them.
Those working with children with Autism, whether it is the child’s teacher, parent, other familly members or professionals, a child with autism needs to be taught specific social skills. Social skills will not come naturally for a child on the Autism spectrum and need to be modeled for them. Social skills are best taught through role playing the appropriate behaviors. For example, model with the child taking turns, sitting and waiting while someone else is talking, and through playing childhood games. In addition, explain the meanings of specific facial expressions, gestures, and personal space/boundaries to them. Model what is appropriate and what is inappropriate making sure to convey that everyone has feelings/emotions that are different than their own.
All families have their share of problems and unfortunately during a crisis, family members panic. There can be any number of things that constitute a crisis for a family and some of the biggies are: using drugs, depression, self-mutilation, your child has thoughts of hurting themselves, staying out all night, sexting, death of a family member or loved one, having committed a crime, gang activity, or having underage sex. What constitutes a crisis for one family might not necessarily be a crisis for another family. So what do we do as a family to work through a crisis situation without completely having the family unit fall apart.
First of all, we should be prepared as a family before a crisis strikes. Parents should be alert to the early warning signs of the crisis. Watch for odd or unusual behaviors, lying, or in other words if your child/teen begins to act differently.
Stay calm. Losing your cool will not reassure or instill confidence in the rest of the members of the family. Yelling and screaming has never solved a single, solitary problem.
If your child or another family member is in danger then the danger must be removed immediately. This often means that the police have to be called if the situation has escalated to this point.
Work through a particular problem and do not focus on the person. Attacking or pointing the finger at a person during a family crisis is also not helpful. This just puts the person on the defensive and will most likely escalate the problem. Put your energy into solving the problem and not blaming and criticizine a person.
During a crisis, try to keep a normal routine. This is hard to do but this has a stabilizing and calming effect on all of the members of the family.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. This is a key to working through any type of family crisis. If family members shut down and don’t talk to each other than nothing ever gets solved. Give each other your undivided attention. If your child/teen needs to talk about something, then let them talk. Convey to them that you are their for him/her no matter what.
Utilize any and all resources at your disposal to work through the crisis. This could be a pastor, a therapist, other family members, support groups, friends, or your community mental health center. Work through the problem, no matter what it is with your child. Children/teens need reassurance that they are safe and loved, no matter what has happened or what they did.