Experts in autism have often said that the mother of an autistic kid is the most dependable person to add value to an autistic kid’s life in the early stages. Unfortunately the higher level of care and attention extended to such kids ends up consuming the happiness of those taking care of them and in this context mothers. While this might not be the case with other ordinary kids in the early stages of development, there is need for a mother to an autistic kid to offer more attention to such a kid. This places such a mother with the additional task of providing happiness to the kid while at the same time fighting the not so social attitude of such a kid.
This calls for additional and special tactics in ensuring that the autistic kids get the mothers attention and in fact obeys the rules. With communication hampered, there is need to better communication means between the parent and the autistic kid (Dale, Jahoda, & Knott, 2006). In the paper this discussion therefore, I give a brief overview of how a mother should care to an autistic child and the challenges involved.
Momma (2009) appreciates the fact that the severity of autism across the spectrum varies a lot and hence so single prescribed in which an autistic child should be approached in order to obtain his/her attention and thereby initiate communication or rather obey commands. Nevertheless, there are a number of ways that have showed some level of effectiveness. Momma says that the most basic way of doing so in seeking acceptance from the kid through interaction at different levels.
She suggests playing with the favorite toys of the kid in order to show some form of likeness and association with the kid which has showed to speed up acceptance and thus loyalty. She notes that with the kid having given the mother the attention due to their similarity in enjoying playing with the same toy binds her to obeying commands from the mother. But how is such a mother to communicate these commands?
McCartney and Phillips write that while autistic children have a socio-cognitive deficit, they should not be abandoned but various methods devised in seeking ways to reach out to them. She says that “children with autism do, however, learn gestures such as hand clapping, waving goodbye, and shaking the head and so on.” (p. 199). She attributes the success of such methods due to their repetitive and unchanging nature.
Therefore, mothers of such autistic kids should learn to use such sign languages wherever possible and accompanying words as often. Unfortunately, this method might see the kid repeat the actions without fully comprehending their meaning but only mimicking which maybe confused for full understanding. McCartney and Phillips go on to say that autistic kids have better “absent physical representation” of objects in their minds than “absent social representation.” (p. 199).
This way, it would thus be recommended that mothers should use objects in communicating with the kids. Consistency should thus be maintained to help the kid associate a particular object with something spectacular. Such consistency is very important in the severe autistic cases where a kid is entirely verbally challenged. By maintaining a certain pattern a kid will in the long run associate a certain object or command with a command. Unfortunately, the fact that kids may only give physical representation without social recognition as to the meaning of that object criticizes the method.
Autistic kids have shown hostile responses to changes and new developments. Momma (2009) offers that routine is the key to solving this problem. While the routine may be interfered with by unavoidable circumstances, extreme reaction to such should not be met with punishment but the mother should aim at behavior modification. This is to be carried out by rewarding of good behavior with words and treats. This way the kid will slowly recognize the routine of good behavior and rewards as opposed to recognizing the benefits of good deeds as is the case with normal kids. Corporal punishment should always be averted even if the kid fails to follow commands as reaction to such could be injurious to them.
The toughest challenge that faces any mother of an autistic kid is awarding the 24 hour attention required by such. Reports have indicated that autistic kids will often go into a tantrum in response to something they dislike and the results could be injurious (Dale, Jahoda, & Knott, 2006). As a result many parents seek the help of specialized institutions which are very costly and thereby locking out many families. As a consequence, such mothers are forced to abandon work and take care of their affected kid and thereby compromising their situation to afford a decent living (Science Daily, 2008).
Another common challenge that mothers have to deal with is the issue of recognition. Some severe cases of autism have been reported whereby a kid does not recognize a familiar face. This interferes with the ability of the mother to get close to the kid and offer him/her the attention that is needed. On one hand, such kind of treatment works negatively on the morale of the mother in trying to get the attention of the kid. In general, autistic kids happen to be very dependent on their mothers and society thereby curtailing their productivity (Lewis, 2006)
With no known cure for the condition in the near future, mothers living with autistic kids have to be psychologically prepared to take care for their kids until specialized care is available with little help from the government. As such, as a nurse, my role to such mothers would be helping them ease their burden by equipping them with skills and knowledge that will foster better understanding between the mother and the autistic kid. I would advice mothers to be more cautious of what their kids play with to avoid self injury. This happens most commonly when such kids throw tantrums. On the on the other hand, autistic individuals have been reported of committing serious offences such as murder. While they are medically disqualified for trial, it is upon people around them to minimize the chances of such occurrences by being aware of such a risk.
McCartney, K. and Phillips, D. Handbook of Early Childhood Development, New York: Blackwell Publishing, 2006.
Momma, J. (2009) Connecting with Your Autistic Child. Web.
Lewis, N. “Review of autism and Asperger syndrome”, Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 2006, Vol 19(4), 391-393.
Dale, E., Jahoda, A. & Knott, F. “Mothers attributions following their child’s diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder: Exploring links with maternal levels of stress, depression and expectations about their child’s future”, Autism, 2006, Vol 10(5), 463-479.
“Financial struggles plague families of children with autism”, Science Daily, 2008.