JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - April is National Autism Awareness Month, and a Mississippi non-profit is reminding parents that solutions are available for children with autism.
Despite the many changes in routine and challenges stemming from the pandemic, Canopy Children’s Solutions says it doesn’t have to stifle your child’s development.
The organization suggests parents use the acronym PRIDE. It’s the acronym for praising your child, repeating what a child says so they know they’ve been heard, imitating play, describing what they’re doing in different ways to show them new speech sounds, and then being enthusiastic.
Finding the tiny wins in the middle of so many changes is the key to making sure your child continues to develop and stay engaged.
“If you can catch them being good, no matter how small, even if it’s is sitting there engaging in an activity for just 30 seconds to a minute at a time without changing to a different one,” Christopher Furlow, director of Autism Solutions said. “If you can find something to praise your child about, that’s a win. That’s the big win and a good way to establish those positive interactions.”
Every child is different, and every child develops at his or her own pace, Canopy Children’s Solution says, but there are specific developmental milestones that all children should be reaching by specific ages. If your child is not meeting milestones or if you’re concerned about your child’s development, the non-profit says don’t hesitate to ask your child’s doctor for additional help.
Some milestones include:
- Not responding to their name by 12 months of age
- Not pointing at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
- Lack of interest in playing “pretend” games (pretending to “feed” a doll) or imitating by 18 months
- Avoiding eye contact and wanting to be alone
- Trouble understanding other people’s feelings (empathy)
- Delayed speech and language skills
- Repeating words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
- Providing unrelated answers to questions
- Getting upset by minor changes
- Obsessive interests
- Flapping their hands, rocking their body, or spinning in circles
- Unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look or feel
The non-profit also says parents and caregivers must make time to take care of themselves.
If your child has received an autism diagnosis, you can contact one of the non-profits Care Coordinators at 1-800-388-6247 to discuss the best solutions.