5 Ways to Help Your Child with Autism Cope with Stress
Anxiety and stress tendencies are not out of the ordinary for children with autism. While it is common for all children to express fear in certain situations, for instance separating with their parents, for those on the spectrum, their fears are occasioned by the fact that they typically have verbal communication challenges. They could for instance be worried about not completing their homework or not being accepted by peers. These children may not communicate their anxieties in any verbal form, but you will notice signs of uneasiness or anxiety through certain actions like obsession, an aggressive resistance to change, and even ritualistic behavior which can be easily mistaken by others.
Here, observation on your side as a parent is key. You may have already identified some repetitive behaviors in your child like violence which point to stress, anxiety, or something that’s bothering them. The next important step is helping them learn how to cope with such situations without reaching higher stress levels or showing unnecessary aggression. Because then, if you are not near them, the world may not understand and be cruel to them which aggravates the situation further and this often affects them deeply.
Because children with autism develop slower than others socially, they will often find it overwhelming to live out socially accepted norms or even just cope with them. For example, a child with ASD may struggle to understand what someone else is thinking or doing something that their ‘typical’ friends will not struggle with. These ASD children’s stress factors will relate to unpredictability of people around them and some situations they will find themselves in, which they will either take time to understand or not understand at all. Because they may never tell you when they are irritated or anxious, you can watch out for the following indications in their behavior:
- An increased difficulty in sleeping
- Uncontrollable rocking, jumping or spinning
- Temper tantrums or meltdown of behaviors
- Harmful actions like biting, banging the head on the wall
- Avoidance or complete withdrawal from social engagements
- Attachment to routine