Help with the Everyday: Sensory Issues, Adapting Your Home, and More
Autism can present many challenges that parents have to face. In my last post, I shared resources about help with appointments and other challenges, like doctor's offices, haircuts, and babysitters.
I'd like to follow up with some resources about everyday challenges. Special thanks to a reader that offered these to me and suggested I share them with you.
Like many autistics, I have sensory issues. Lighting can be harsh and noise can be overwhelming.
I am very fortunate to have a wife that understands, and shares, some of these sensory challenges because of her fibromyalgia. Similar to autism, her nervous system and senses can also become overloaded.
As a result, we've made changes to our home that made our sensory issues easier to cope with. We both find overhead lighting harsh, and prefer floor and table lamps for a softer light. Little noises make it difficult to sleep, including the sound of us rustling in bed, so we have white noise in the bedroom to help us sleep (coming from an air cleaner and fan).
The article above is by an autism parent, and talks about some of the challenges autism presents. It offers ideas about adapting your home to meet those challenges. It talks about adjusting for sensory issues, creating more structure, and allowing for special interests.
Because of the challenges sensory issues pose, I'm sure many parents wonder whether they will get better. As this article talks about, sometimes they do, but sometimes they don't.
It elaborates that the sensory issues may always be there, but we can learn how to cope with them. The prefrontal cortex of the brain (responsible for complex decision-making, emotional processing, and impulse control) is still developing in childhood, and doesn't fully develop until age 25. As it develops further, we can learn how to cope with sensory issues.
But as I talk about in my article about Information Overload, because of how the autistic brain is wired, the prefrontal cortex can get overloaded with information, hampering its ability to do so.
This article also talks about when those challenges persist, and shares the stories of adults that cope with them.
I've seen many parents talk about, and seek advice for, their child's tendency to wander. They'll bolt in public. They'll escape the house and run away.
This article offers advice about how to handle it - particularly understanding why it's happening and addressing the triggers for it.
In many cases, it is because a child is trying to get away from something, or is seeking something they want. As in the first resource I shared talked about, you may be able to adapt your home to meet those needs.
As my childhood progressed, and the social rules I was expected to follow got more complicated, I had a harder and harder time handling things. In fourth grade (about age 9 for my readers outside the US), I started to have meltdowns and would burst into tears in school.
My teachers were bewildered and at a loss to know what was happening. This was partially because we didn't know at the time I was autistic and autism wasn't well known yet.
Tantrums and meltdowns can be very challenging, and frustrating, to deal with as a parent.
This article talks about the differences between tantrums and meltdowns, and how to address each of them. The most important thing to know, as the article details, is that tantrums have a goal - to get something they want that they're not getting - while a meltdown is about being overwhelmed.
Although they have different causes, both tantrums and meltdowns can stem from not knowing how to calmly handle the situation. As the article says, focus on helping the child to regulate their emotions.
Hopefully these articles will provide you with some help in addressing those everyday challenges that you may face.