Help! I Think My Child Is Autistic
Updated: Nov 29, 2022
Support For Me and My Autistic Child!
You may have found yourself endlessly scrawling the internet trying to find hints, clues, tips, and answers as to why your child seems to be struggling so much.
Thought patterns like...
'Why does everyone around me have it all together?'
'Why does nobody else's child have a meltdown like mine?'
'Why does my child react like this over the slightest thing?
Suddenly you stumble across a questionnaire which gives you an indication as to whether your child is autistic/ADHD and the puzzle pieces seem to slot together.
Well, I am here to say, you are not alone!
I imagine a whole host of mixed emotions may be going on for you right now with a bazillion questions about how best to support your child and what adaptations can you make.
Sometimes we find ourselves wrapped up in our thought process of trying to fix everything we forget what is right in front of us.
Remember - They aren't just having a tantrum.
An autistic meltdown is different from a tantrum but they can look the same. A tantrum will occur usually to gain something like a new toy, or sweet or to stay up late. A meltdown occurs because of overstimulation in the brain and that can be triggered by several things, here are a few examples:
Change in routine
Sensory overload (this can be from any of our 5 senses) - noise, food/clothing textures, smell, bright lights etc.
Being told one thing and something else happening
New places/ people
Being given too much information (at school, instructions at home etc)
Holding it together to engage in social interactions and situations (school)
Being prevented from stimming (this can look like fidgeting, legs/feet moving, skin picking, hair twirling etc)
Masking - this uses a lot of energy and is usually why schools don't see what you see at home. I hate to blame the schools but they just aren't there yet when it comes to inclusivity.
Children and adults, in particular, girls/women, learn to mask from a very young age, this is why many girls end up overlooked and don't figure out they are autistic until adulthood. (Masking involves mimicking how other people interact because they are unsure how they should be.)
As you can imagine, all of this causes a lot of internal distress for the child and can often lead them to feel quite isolated and embarrassed for who they are.
How can you help?
There are many ways you can support your child and the first is allowing them to be who they are at home, accommodating their needs.
A few ideas:
Purchase a few stim toys, you can find these on amazon or at your local toy shop where you will find a whole array of different types. Even better, allow them to choose, some children have different stim needs and what works for one might not for another.
Shelter them to reduce the number of people who can witness a meltdown. They are scary enough as it is without people looking.
Negotiate food types, this one is a biggie because you may be inclined to ensure they get all their food groups in but this can cause huge distress when it comes to sensory hell.
Create a calm and safe space where your child can go if and when they need to.
Negotiate your morning routine - what you need to do, what is your child capable of doing and how long can you allow space before you are stressed due to time constraints which then transfers onto your child and results in a meltdown and you both feeling pretty horrific for the rest of the day.
Speaking to the school SENCO about your Childs needs and what helps them to feel safe at school, maybe a bit more challenging if your child doesn't have a diagnosis but you know your child best and so it's always worth booking a meeting with them.
Time and space for you! Having a child who requires extra needs can be emotionally and physically exhausting. You need a break and plenty of self-care, there is a reason why air hosts always tell you to put your safety mask on first; you are little use if you haven't taken care of yourself first. You cant drink from an empty cup and all that jazz! So even if it's a 10-minute cup of tea before the house wakes up and then another 10-minute pause once the school runs done, that still gives you small snippets of self-care throughout the day.
If you can, access some one to one counselling support. Having a trained therapist who can help you carve out space to offload and unwind; help you gain more understanding, and to support communication between you and your younger one, can enhance your relationship. It provides you with a place to put all your stress so it doesn't come out as irritability, anxiety or depression.
If you would like more information about how my counselling support can help you, click the button below and we can organise a cuppa and a chat ⬇️
Alternatively, you can look around to find a counsellor who suits you and
your needs here: https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk