As a parent of two children with autism, I understand the challenges and triumphs that come with raising a neurodiverse child. The journey has been a rollercoaster of emotions, but through it all, I have come to realise the importance of understanding and accepting my children’s unique needs and abilities. In this blog, I want to share my personal experiences and insights, and empower other parents with an autistic child who may be navigating a similar path.

When my eldest child was diagnosed with autism, I admit that I was overwhelmed with a range of emotions – confusion, fear, and even a sense of helplessness. It felt like we were given this life changing diagnosis then were completely left on our own to navigate life. We were offered little to no support, no follow up appointments, no guidance by professionals, we had to figure it all out by ourselves. However, as time went on, I came to understand that my children’s autism is not something that needs to be “fixed.” Instead, it is an integral part of who they are. Embracing this understanding was the first step to empowering my children and our family.

One of the key aspects of autism that I have learned to understand is the sensory sensitivities that many autistic children experience. The world can be overwhelming for them, with sights, sounds, and textures often causing distress. Understanding and addressing these sensory issues has been transformative in improving my children’s quality of life.

Before fully grasping this, I often found myself confused and even frustrated by my children’s reactions to certain situations. The extreme meltdowns were hard to handle and manage, I felt helpless seeing my children suffer in what I saw as just “normal” life situations. Things like going to the supermarket, birthday parties, family days out were often disrupted by the kid’s behaviour. And although I knew it was not their fault, the frustration was there.

As I look back, I realised that I was frustrated that I did not know how to get my children to be able to cope in the real world. At the time I believed that if I wanted them to thrive in life, they needed to find a way to “cope.” This belief was further ingrained when I worked with their school and CBT therapists, I saw the focus was not on accepting them for how they were but more on changing how they responded to things.

My youngest daughter would mask while at school, never speaking but never causing much of a fuss, until one day she just could not make herself go into school anymore. She was done “coping” in an environment that constantly triggered her and that made her feel overwhelmed. And although she could not tell me what the issues were in school, her body was telling her something was not right. It was her becoming a school non-attender that made me realise I needed to change my approach.

sensory needs, autism, autistic, adhd, meltdown, practitioner, integration

Seeking the help of a sensory integration practitioner was a game-changer for us. These professionals specialise in understanding how the brain processes sensory information and can provide tailored strategies to help children with autism regulate their sensory experiences. From creating sensory-friendly environments to incorporating sensory activities into our daily routines, the guidance of a practitioner has been invaluable.

The most useful thing this practitioner did for us, was they helped my daughters understand their own needs. They finally began to understand themselves, what they feel and why. We looked at the different types of senses, were they sensory seeking or sensory avoidant, as well as making the girls more aware as to what was happening to their bodies while experiencing these sensations. It has been so empowering for my daughters to understand their specific needs and be able to advocate for themselves. 

Empowerment comes from understanding and embracing our children for who they are. It involves celebrating their strengths, nurturing their interests, and advocating for their needs. By doing so, we can help them thrive in a world that may not always understand them.

Ways to Help

  • Sensory-Friendly Environments: Creating spaces that cater to your child’s sensory needs can make a world of difference. This could involve using dimmer lights, providing noise-cancelling headphones, or offering fidget toys to help them self-regulate.
  • Routine and Predictability: Establishing predictable routines can provide a sense of security for your autistic child. Knowing what to expect can help mitigate anxiety and meltdowns.
  • Sensory Activities: Engaging in sensory activities such as swinging, jumping, or playing with textured materials can help regulate sensory input and promote relaxation.
  • Understanding Triggers: Identifying and understanding your child’s sensory triggers can help you anticipate and minimise potential distressing situations. It is important you, your family, your child and their school have a good understanding of the triggers as it should help reduce the number of meltdowns your child will experience.
  • Sleep Matters (a lot): One of my daughters slept fine, the other really not well, however I give them both magnesium spray on the soles of their feet every night. Not only is magnesium deficiency a common issue these days, but it also aids a good night’s sleep.
  • Take care of Yourself: It is important as a parent you prioritise your mental and physical health. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, relaxing, and taking time for yourself. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Try my free relaxation hypnosis or get yourself some magnesium glycinate for a good night’s sleep.

The journey of raising a child with autism is not without its challenges, but it is also filled with moments of joy, growth, and love. By understanding and accepting our children for who they are, embracing their sensory needs, and empowering them to navigate the world on their terms, we can create a supportive and nurturing environment where they can flourish. As parents, we hold the power to shape a world that celebrates neurodiversity and empowers our children to reach their full potential. 

Here are some products I have used or wish I had known about when my children were young that I feel will help your autistic child –

Sensory

Environment

Sensory integration techniques and activities are designed to help individuals with sensory processing difficulties, like many children with autism, to cope with sensory information in a way that enables them to participate in everyday activities more fully and comfortably. Here are a few examples:

  • Brushing Protocol: This involves gently brushing the child’s skin with a soft-bristled brush to help reduce sensory defensiveness and to calm the nervous system.
  • Weighted Vests or Blankets: Using weighted items can provide deep pressure touch stimulation which can be calming and organizing for the child’s sensory input.
  • Therapeutic Swings: Different types of swings can provide vestibular input, which helps with balance and spatial orientation. Swings can be soothing and can also be used to challenge motor skills.
  • Joint Compression: Gentle pressure on the child’s joints can provide proprioceptive input, helping the child understand where their body is in space.

Sensory Activities:

  • Play-Doh or Kinetic Sand: Manipulating these materials can help with tactile exploration and provide a calming sensory experience.
  • Trampoline or Bouncing Ball: Jumping can give proprioceptive and vestibular feedback, which can help regulate the sensory system.
  • Water Play: Playing with water can be both calming and engaging, providing a variety of tactile stimuli.
  • Listening to Music or Sound Therapy: Calming music or specific sound therapies can help with auditory processing and can be very soothing.
  • Scented Play: Using scented markers, playdough, or other materials during play can engage the olfactory system in a non-overwhelming way.

It’s important to tailor sensory integration techniques and activities to the individual needs of the child since each child with autism may have different sensory preferences and sensitivities. Working with an occupational therapist who specializes in sensory integration is often the best way to determine the most effective strategies and activities for a particular child.

This post contains paid links, however these will not cost you a penny, you are just supporting a small business. Thank you 🙂

You might also enjoy:

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *