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Helping Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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According to the National Center for Children in Povery (NCCP), “One in 10 youth has serious mental health problems that are severe enough to impair how they function at home, school, or in the community.” There are no two children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or any disorder that affects them the same. So, how do we know how to treat each individual child?

Watching her grow up, we all knew my sister was just a little bit different. She doesn’t like hugs, she hates clothes that are anything but loose, and the littlest of things can stress her out to the point of crying. Later, we found out my little sister had a mix of anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and some Asperger’s tendencies.

She has been teased and made fun of, her dad tries forcing her out of it and it only causes more problems. Some people don’t seem to understand this is not a condition to grow out of and forcing change will only work to exacerbate her challenges. She has both a school counselor and an out of school counselor in which she sees on a regular, and it appears to be helping. Also, art and music have been a great therapeutic benefit along with taking care of the family pets. Some children may require medication, however, there are a number of other therapies that maybe instrumental in help you developing a holistic mental health plan for your child.

Counseling:

Although talk therapy would be relatively impossible for autistic children, a school counselor or a counselor in general is nice to have. A counselor can be another person that a child can trust to help them get through whatever it is that they are dealing with. They can also do other therapies, that do not include talking, while in a session that could help the child learn and grow.

A school counselor should not only be supportive for the child but for the family of the child also. A child with a disorder is more likely to be teased and bullied, which can both be hard on the child and the family. A counselor should be another person the family can look to for support in times of need.

Animal-assisted therapy:

One kind of therapy that has been showing great improvements in children and adults is animal-assisted therapy. It has helped result in educational, mental, motivational and physical improvements. Children can easily make bonds with animals which teaches them and later helps them form bonds with other people as well.

According to everydayhealth.com “more research is still needed to determine the effects and confirm the benefits of animal-assisted therapy specifically for children with autism, a number of studies have suggested it could help.” Even though the research is not completed yet, studies have shown that it is helping ASD children cope with the struggles of life.

Art and Music:

Art and music is another way for a child with ASD to express themselves. A lot of children don’t know how to express themselves with words but give them music, an instrument or something to draw on and you might just figure out how they are feeling.

According to the American Art Therapy Association , “Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages.” Art therapy is benefiting people by helping them manage behaviors, reduce stress, resolve conflicts and improve interpersonal skills.

All of these combined have really helped my little sister and have made her life so much easier. She has formed deep bonds with her animals, spends her free time drawing and coloring and her counselor has been helping her open up to more of the family and become more connected.

Alia Lane is a recent graduate of Lewis Clark State College with an associates degree in entrepreneurship. She works for an online marketing company and enjoys writing In her spare time she enjoys reading, baking and being with her three year old son.

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