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Nearly every article about autism contains a list of core deficits, challenges, and depressing facts about the increasing number of children with autism or the lack of services.
Parents can easily sink into the overwhelming wave of problems. Every now and then, you need to stop and think about the positive. That’s why the team at THINK Neurology for Kids decided to create this list of encouraging facts about autism.
If you’re familiar with autism, you have encountered the push for early intervention. Early intervention refers to getting services before the age of three and often comes with strongly worded advice about the necessity of forming new brain connections while you can.
Let’s redefine early intervention in a more encouraging light. Taking action “early” isn’t limited by age. It means seeking an evaluation and services as soon as you recognize autistic behaviors or developmental delays.
The human brain possesses remarkable plasticity throughout its lifespan. You don’t need to feel guilty if you missed an “early intervention” window.
At any age, individualized therapy that meets your child’s unique needs can improve their communication, social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral skills.
For many years (and still today), people believed that children with autism lacked empathy and couldn’t recognize or understand other people’s emotions. This belief stemmed from a challenge in autism, related to the theory of mind.
Theory of mind refers to understanding that other people have different thoughts and beliefs than you. People with autism often lack the innate theory of mind that comes naturally to others.
The inability to grasp another person’s thoughts spilled over into the belief that autism blocked empathy. But being unable to express empathy doesn’t mean your child can’t perceive and feel another person’s feelings.
Experts now acknowledge (and studies confirm) that children with autism can recognize and understand complex emotions in others.
If you haven’t seen this ability in your child, know that they are sensitive to others’ emotions, whether or not they can express or show it.
In the same way that people tend to jump to conclusions about empathy, many assume that children with autism don’t care about socializing or having friends.
Unfortunately, neurotypical people who don’t understand autism expect your child to interact based on their rules and expectations. Then they misinterpret your child based on autistic behaviors.
While socializing in groups poses a challenge, children with autism desire friendship just as much as neurotypical people — they need extra help and support getting there.
Most people with autism have a specific interest that consumes their thoughts, communication, and actions. Other people often see this as a negative trait. For example, a singular interest may interfere with paying attention to other subjects in school.
On the positive side, these interests fuel passion, expertise, and in-depth knowledge. Parents, teachers, and therapists can use special interests to motivate learning and make progress with new skills. Never lose sight of the fact that their interests can translate into a successful career.
The positive aspects of autism are often lost in the daily routine, so it’s important to remember that these kids have remarkable qualities.
Children with autism seldom have gray areas of indecision. Rather, they strongly believe in justice and fairness, know right from wrong, and don’t tell lies. They’re nonjudgmental and lack prejudice. If they’re verbal, they say what they mean without hidden agendas.
As parents go through tough days, they can stay hopeful and keep their energy up by remembering the spark underneath and the heart of their child.
If you need any help managing the challenges of autism, call THINK Neurology for Kids or book an appointment online today.