Managing and Coping With Autism

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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a term used to describe a range of types of autism, all of which may have very different presentations. Autism is strongly influenced by both environmental and genetic factors, which both combine to cause a variety of autism symptoms. Developing skills to help manage the emotional, physical, and mental aspects of the disorder are helpful to both the person with autism and their caregivers.

Emotional

Emotional issues associated with autism spectrum disorder may include:

These issues may be mild, moderate, severe, or altogether absent depending on the individual. Managing these symptoms is an important part to adequately coping with autism, as each diagnosis can cause behavioral problems of their own.

It is important to understand certain emotional issues may simply be a part of the diagnosis and not the result of poor coping.

Insight into one's condition can still cause distress if an individual with autism does not have the appropriate supports, coping skills, or social network to assist with managing the diagnosis. Impaired social skills associated with an autism diagnosis may cause further difficulties with emotional regulation.

If an individual with autism has insight into their condition, he or she may experience isolation and poor attachment skills as a result of impaired social interactions. These and more issues can be addressed by behavioral treatments to assist with both skill-building and symptom management.

Treatments for behavioral issues include:

These treatments focus on visual processing skills, fine motor skills, self-regulation, self-care skills, handwriting, developmental milestones, organization, executive functioning, and social skills.

Physical

Medical issues which may accompany autism include gastrointestinal disorders, seizures, feeding issues, and insomnia. These can be managed through medication and a combination of the aforementioned treatments.

Diet

There are a growing number of families looking toward gluten-free, casein-free, and dairy-free diets in an attempt to mitigate symptoms, particularly behavioral symptoms, associated with autism. Though these diets are mainly meant to address behaviors and overall emotional health of someone with autism, growing trends also claim they support some of the medical issues or symptoms associated with autism.

While some families and children with autism have seen some positive effect from using these diets, there is minimal scientific evidence showing special diets cause a decrease in certain symptoms.

As with all treatments suggested for autism, it is important to consult a doctor before implementing anything. If you feel as if certain foods cause an increase in any of your child’s symptoms, keeping a record of food habits and reactions will help inform your doctor as to specific allergies or food sensitivities.

Social

Social support is incredibly important for both the person with autism and their caregivers. There are many places to turn for support, and organizations to assist the entire family.

Support Groups

Support groups such as local chapters of the Autism Society, Autism Speaks, and AutismUp can provide sound resources along with emotional support from others experiencing similar courses of autism. Those interested in advocacy efforts can seek opportunities through Autism Speaks, which looks for individuals who may seek volunteer roles.

Online communities such as Verywell Health’s facebook group can assist with tips, resources, and additional advocacy efforts. All of these are great mediums to handle the stress and varying trials which may make a diagnosis of autism difficult. Caregiver support groups can also prove helpful for those parents or family members who assist in caring for a loved one with autism.

Health Education

Health education and promotion is also a key factor in ensuring each individual with autism receive evidence-based care along with well-rounded support. There are many resources of varying forms available to support those with autism along with their caregivers and loved ones.

This large number of resources is positive, however, everyone should be cautioned to find and follow reliable and credible resources for disease management. When in doubt, seek counsel from any medical professional for evidence-based resources to successfully assist with managing autism and its associated conditions.

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