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A Primer on Autism for Parents Who Work Outside the Home

Posted by Brian Spence on Jul 14, 2014 8:00:00 AM


Autism, Parents of Autism, Children With Autism, Coping with Autism, Behavioral HealthAutism is a behavioral disorder that drastically impedes the sufferer's ability to develop normal social relationships and use language effectively. Clearly, such a situation creates obstacles to communication even under the best conditions. When one or more parents of an autistic child are forced to be away from the child for much of the time due to work, the pressure to develop and sustain emotional intimacy only grows. Fortunately, the knowledge about autism and the information available to working parents today has created an environment which can help them to treat their autistic child with a far greater degree of sensitivity than working parents were able to do in the past.

Diagnosis

Some parents may actually be dealing with symptoms related to autism without even realizing it. This behavioral condition spans across a far greater spectrum than many people realize. Working parents who may consistently go for hours, days or even weeks at a time away from home especially need to be prepared to question a doctor who gives a dismissive pretext for a child's lagging development.
  • Get a second opinion if your primary physician suggests anything that can rightfully be interpreted along the lines of "Your child is just slow" or "I'm afraid there may be some developmental delays associated with certain tendencies."
  • Get yourself a doctor who is able to separate true autism from conditions that can cause similar symptoms in very young children. Conditions that can range from deafness to depression.

Symptoms

According to "The Complete Encyclopedia of Medicine and Health," some symptoms are especially useful in pinpointing where along the spectrum your child might fall.  Among the most common:

  • No single-word usage by 16 months
  • No two-word phrases by 24 months
  • Little interest in developing friendships with other kids
  • A failure to engage in pretending
  • An attention span noticeably shorter than that of other toddlers
  • Indifference to other people, including family members
  • Repetitive body movements such as rocking back and forth
  • Extreme tantrums when faced with changes in routine
  • Acute sensitivity to odors or textures
  • Any sudden loss of language skills already developed.

Causes

Don't get frustrated when a physician is unable to explain the cause of the disorder. Unfortunately, it is one of those medical conditions where the cause remains as much a mystery as the treatment. According to "The American Medical Association Home Medical Encyclopedia," about one-fourth of all autistic children exhibit some signs of a neurological condition and suffer epileptic seizures when they reach their teenage years. This has led researchers to focus on the potential for some kind of brain damage to lie at the center of the development of this disorder. While this is hardly encouraging, it is far better than the former theory that suggested it was due to a lack of social contact between parent and child. More importantly, at this stage brain damage as the stimulus for autism is still just a theory and nothing more.

The most important thing for working parents to remember is that you should not let the long pauses between physical contact and attempts at social interaction and emotional communication to be wasted on self-blame or falling victim to second guessing and doubts about your own behavior.  Also remember that if you are sensitive to your autistic offspring's condition and reject any tendency toward isolating yourself from the problem, then you may actually foster positive development that helps your child reach their fullest potential.

Treatment

The inescapable truth (to date) you need to face is that there is no way to reverse this diagnosis in your child. As soon as you recognize any speech problems and receive a definitive diagnosis, you should look into speech therapy. This is an important step to take since communication difficulties can enhance the myriad other problems and frustrations associated with raising an autistic child without the ability to become a full-time stay-at-home parent. Behavioral therapy may improve your child's cognitive functions as well as deal with reducing socially inappropriate conduct. Older autistic children can benefit from occupational therapy that may allow them to successfully enter the workplace when they become adults.

For more information or to hire a specialist in behavioral disorders, please contact us.

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Topics: Behavioral Health, Mental Health, Healthcare

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