Autism spectrum disorder is a common disability that affects millions of people around the world. There are varying degrees of it that can impact how someone with autism acts and how they respond to certain things. The disability appears during the early childhood period or even shortly after birth. The autism spectrum disorder will impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships, and their ability to control themselves and their actions.
It is essential to understand that there is a considerable spectrum on which a person can fall if they have been deemed autistic. With someone who is high functioning, you might not even be able to tell if they have the disability, while with someone who is low functioning, they are going to need assistance and care with some tasks.
What can you do as an educator?
The best thing you can do to help someone with autism is to educate yourself about the disability. The more you know about the disorder, the more you can help someone out and help them achieve their goals. Someone with autism is no lesser of a person than someone who does not. They deserve the same love, care, and support that anyone would get. Here are some explanations of how autism works and ways that you can help someone who has it.
Self-stimulatory Behavior: Stimming
A common sign that someone has autism spectrum disorder is that they are continually stimming. What is stimming? Stimming stands for self-stimulatory behavior is when the person self stimulates their body in a repeated motion over and over again as a way to involve their senses. Stimming can be done for a variety of reasons.
If the person is overstimulated and their senses are overwhelmed, stimming can help them take attention away from what is happening. Someone who is under-stimulated might look to create these movements to help involve their senses and produce pleasure. Along with that, people with autism will look to stimming to help with the reduction of pain and self-regulation. It is vital that you can identify what is happening in the situation you are in so you are able to provide the support necessary for them.
How to recognize stimming
How does a person with autism stim? There are several types of stimming for you to look out for. While each child will be unique, there will be some common ground between those with the disability. Verbal or auditory stimming is a common one that you will see in people with autism. It will involve them saying similar words over and over or making high pitched noises with their mouth. You can also look for things like tapping their ears or objects or snapping their fingers.
Visual stimming moves towards the eyes. This can include blankly staring at objects for an extended period of time, organizing things in a particular fashion, hand flapping, or even turning the lights on and off repeatedly.
The final and most common form of stimming is tactile stimming. This involves their sense of touch. They will often look to feel particular objects or close and open their hands over and over again. During these periods, they will try to touch anything within their sight.
Is stimming harmful?
Stimming itself is not dangerous; however, you have to be careful about how it is being done. As people with autism generally lack self-regulation, they will not be fully aware when they are hurting themselves or they have put themselves in danger. For example, some people with autism might hit themselves to get a tactile stim. This can cause harm to them and it should be stopped and redirected instantly. Instead, try to get them to feel an object or to touch something else. Don’t try to change the stim itself more than redirect it to a different method within that stim. By doing this you can help people with autism and support their daily needs.
Time To Process
People with autism need time to process what is happening around them. This means that they can need several minutes to fully grasp what has been said. How is this important? If you are trying to make any sudden changes in a schedule to someone with autism, they will not respond well to it. They need time to process that a change is being made and need to be able to come to terms with that.
Schools for example can be a problem for those with autism. Things like fire drills can come about unexpectedly and can overstimulate them and cause a whole slew of problems. Give them a warning of what is to come so that they can prepare for it and be ready to have patience if you do something that surprises them. Never try to surprise someone with autism and always ensure that you are giving them time to process what is happening.
Strong Focus On One Topic
People with autism will often gravitate towards one subject or interest and try to become a master of it. This means that they might be extremely knowledgeable in one subject while struggling heavily in another. Embrace this with positive reinforcement.
Someone with autism will focus on whatever has been told to them, and if you speak negatively to them, it will cause a lot of emotional damage and anxiety. Set them up for success by allowing them to work towards a reward rather than working towards avoiding punishment. Someone who ASD will have trouble branching off to different subjects whether it be socially or from a knowledge point of view.
By reading this article, you should have a better idea of how autism spectrum disorder works and ways that you can help someone who has it. The most important thing that you can do is exercise patience with someone. If they are struggling to complete something, they will already be frustrated with themselves, the last thing you want to do is show them that others are frustrated as well.
If you truly care for a person with autism, they will reward you with some of the best love and happiness. Take time from your life to look out for them; it is truly a beautiful experience. How do you plan on helping someone with a disability?