World Autism Awareness Day is observed across the globe on 2nd April. The day aims to increase people’s awareness about people, especially children with autism. Many events are organized on World Autism Awareness Day including discussions with autism experts, politicians and non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives, events for parents of children with autism, workshops for professionals helping children with autism, workshops for people with autism, educational materials for parents and teachers, art work by artists with autism, display of posters and banners to increase public awareness of autism etc. The day was first observed in 2008.
Children with autism are not regular children; they require special interaction because they face difficulties in social and communication skills which are essential for social interaction and making friends. Autism awareness is done on a large scale but still there are barriers which need to be shed so that children with special needs can breathe free. Here are some important things which should be kept in mind while interacting with such kids.
- Let them enter your hearts: People tend to avoid differently able children mainly because they do not know what to say, how to talk to them or whether to say anything at all. Even as parents who are bringing up children with special needs, there are times when they fall way short. The best thing here is to shower as much love as you can. Never hold back on an interaction as it may create a void which may be hard to fill later on.
- Have patience and comprehend the kid first: A child requires a lot of patience and tact, and with a differently able child, a little more than usual. As a parent, one needs to make a conscious effort and build up patience. While raising children with special needs, it is important how one supports mental, emotional and physical growth, especially since parents are the first teachers in a child’s life.
- Children with autism have temperaments too: Children with special needs often throw tantrums at a public place like a mall, shop or a restaurant, which can be embarrassing for parents. Due to this embarrassment, parents pamper the child and give in to their temper tantrums. This might cause behavioural difficulties and the child might become unmanageable in the long run. These behavioural restricts can be damaging and more difficult to interpret.
- Make them feel normal: A positive attitude is the most important quality for anyone who works with children with special needs. Even if you are down and out, a smiling face and humour go a long way in releasing stress and building a child’s confidence.
- Don’t force the child to do certain things: Understanding the abilities and temperament of the child will help build a friendly relation. Activities like playing games, reading picture storybooks together go a long way in connecting emotionally with the child. Remember not to force him/her to do activities which are of not their interest. In fact, letting the child choose will help them him/her connected and listened to.