Parents often ask me about advice on what can help their autistic children. I am not an autism expert but I believe that some things might have worked for my own personal situation as a child.
1) Use a Spartan Therapy Room: In contrast to a room filled with sensory stimulation, I might have functioned better in a room with minimal distractions that forced me to focus on the task at hand.
- Soundproof the room and cover the windows.
- Cover the walls and floor with a uniform soft color without patterns, shapes or lines.
- Constantly play gentle, calming music (e.g. Baroque Music)
- Keep a minimum amount of furniture (e.g. a small table, cushions, a storage cupboard, a sleeping mattress). Avoid unnecessary decoration such as photos and artwork. Items in the room should blend in rather than contrast with the background color.
- Use only non-flickering lights such as LEDs and halogen lamps instead of florescent lighting. The flicker from florescent lighting may cause discomfort and irritation for some children.
- Check for odors and other sensory stimuli; avoid anything that may draw attention towards it. For instance, a shiny piece of metal reflecting sunlight or perfume worn by a teacher can be quite distracting.
2) Do Self Awareness Exercises: A full length mirror can be used to help me become aware of my body and behavior. A voice recorder can help me become aware of what my own voice sounds like. I did not notice that I had issues with how I behave and express myself, for instance mumbling instead of speaking clearly to others. Such issues often lead to communication and social difficulties as well as bullying.
3) Explore Alternatives: Waldorf Education and the Miller Method might have helped me to connect with my own instincts. They can complement other treatment or intervention efforts.
4) Check for Allergies and Restrict Diet accordingly: I used to suffer from allergies (e.g. persistent runny nose, bloated stomach, asthma attacks). A casein and gluten free diet might have helped me. Casein is found in milk and gluten in wheat, oat, rye, and barley.
5) Check for Medical Issues and Treat Them: I had nutritional deficiencies, a weak digestive system and chronic fatigue that I eventually fixed by myself with nutritional supplements. I have also read that heavy metal poisoning and yeast infection of the gut can create behavioral issues.
6) Use the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS): I would have found it easier to express myself. To save money, we can make our own version: download clipart from Google Images, organize and print these clipart from PowerPoint, cut them out and then laminate these pieces.
7) Keep Track of Events and Tasks Using a Journal: I eventually discovered this method by myself to write down things that I needed to do in the same place so I will remember to do them.
8) Do Talent Development: I was very interested in science and computers. I was already reading university textbooks in Primary school and learned programming myself when I received my first computer. However, my parents failed to capitalize on these to develop talents that can give me an advantage in my adult life.
9) Caretakers Take Care too: My parents had personal issues that made my life difficult. I have developed my own life coaching system at http://rainbowhuman.com that I wish to share with parents for their own use as well as for to teach their children