Are Children with Autism more susceptible to anxiety, stress, and anger?
Anxiety symptoms and disorders are the number one health problem in America. One percent of the population of children in the United States ages 3-17 have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Children diagnosed with Autism are usually more susceptible to Anxiety Disorders, stress and feelings of anger. Autism and anxiety go hand-in-hand as does stress and anxiety. It’s challenging enough for any parent to deal with a child who is experiencing anxiety or anger but parents of an Autistic child face even greater challenges. Below are a few triggering points that cause heightened anxiety in children with Autism followed by ideas from parents on how to minimize the effects.
Change in the autistic child’s routine.
Parents should anticipate upcoming changes and help their child prepare for them by using stories and pictures when possible. If an established routine needs to be changed or altered it’s a good idea for parents to begin to get the child accustomed to the change days before. Discuss the change with your child. Show them pictures that can help them begin to understand what might be happening. Go slow at first to gauge their receptiveness to the change. This will give parents an opportunity to see how open or understanding they are to this type of change.
Change in their environments.
If your taking a family vacation start discussing the trip a week or so ahead of time and show your child pictures pertaining to the vacation. Discuss the trip and break it up into section. The more you plan and introduce your child to a situation the more comfortable they will be once it happens. If you are taking a road trip make sure you have items with you that your child is use to having in the car on short trips. Parents should call ahead to find out what the facilities are like, get a brochure or website, and investigate what amenities they have. Have your child be part of the planning.
While nightmares are common with all children, children with Autism have frequent sleep problems and have a much harder time calming themselves and regulating their emotional state.
Parents should introduce their child to relaxation music at an early age. Children can be taught simple diaphragmatic breathing exercises to help relax and calm themselves either before bedtime or during transition or stressful times. If you make it fun for the child they will respond more positively all while they are learning this empowering technique.
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Calms and relaxes children, teaches breathing, relaxation and affirmations through story telling.
“My son absolutely loves Ms Lite’s Indigo Dreams CD. Many children with Autism Spectrum Disorders have a hard time adjusting to changes, so it took a LONG time for me to convince my son to try Indigo Ocean Dreams CD. He loves that one now, too. The sounds and stories are so relaxing, it is much easier for him to relax and fall asleep with them. I would definitely recommend both of these CDs and books to any parent whose child has a hard time relaxing and falling asleep.”– Ruth Burns
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It’s important for parents to seek the help and support of professionals to deal with these challenges. Support groups, family organizations and the internet are the best resources to help parents make the right decision on the best way to help their child.
Here are some organizations we help in providing resources to: