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Living with Autism – 7 to 17 Years Old

Posted on January 4, 2019 by All In

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Education

 

When your kids are ready to move on to formal education – primary school and later on secondary school, there are several options that you can look into.

 

The best way to determine which academic path is right for your child is to consult your current therapist or speak with your current curriculum educator (teacher or principal). They are equipped to help you understand the potential issues that your child may face in school such as bullying and social prejudice. They will also be able to give advice on how to manage these situations, how to prep your child and suggest which school could be a better fit for your child.

 

Here are some common concerns parents have during primary and secondary school:

 

Academics

 

Now that your child is of age to be immersed in formal education, it is important to keep in mind that your child’s unique constitution may mean that his/her academic performance could differ from that of their peers. Like any parent, accepting your child’s uniques and building on your child’s unique strengths is key to their growth. Oftentimes, children with autism have certain interests that they are extremely enthusiastic about.

 

Here are some ways you can help them:

  • Building on these inherent interests will help your child learn faster
  • Using short instructions rather than long strings of words will increase their understanding
  • Adopting the right mindset and style of teaching is the first step to help your child improve in his academics
  • Consider hiring a shadow teacher to help your child navigate school and social situations

 

You may want to head on to our comprehensive guide for more information on education.

 

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Independence

 

When your child begins formal schooling, he/she is also embarking on an independent journey. This means being responsible for his/her belongings, actions and behavior in specific situations.

 

Here are some ways you can help them:

  • Introduce the concept of money to your child. Teach your child about the different currencies and practice the exchange of money at home. You can play games to introduce the concept of buying, such as playing “store”, by letting him/her hand you a certain amount of money in order to get what he/she wants
  • Encourage your child through the actual act of purchase. Walk your child through the process of buying lunch and paying for it.You can also introduce the idea of online shopping and allow him/her compare the price between two items.
  • Show your child his/her belongings and the labels with their name on it. If he/she is up to it, work on labeling their belongings together
  • Practice pack his/her school bag with your child
  • Have extra sets of his or her prized possession (e.g. their favourite water bottle) in case of accidents
  • Offer copious amounts of appropriate and specific praises when he/she is able to achieve predetermined milestones

 

You can find other helpful tips and games about teaching money concepts here.

 

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Choosing a School

 

Sending your child to school is a huge undertaking for any parents, let alone one who is choosing a school for their child who has special needs. From balloting for school enrolment to the first day of school to helping your child settle in a new environment – it is an undoubtedly stressful period.

 

There are two academic paths for children with autism. If your child’s symptoms are mild (and this could be achieved with early intervention schooling), you can opt to place him/her in a mainstream school which is equipped to manage students with special needs. If their symptoms are more severe, then a special education school might be a better fit for your child.

 

Read more about choosing between a special education (SPED) school or mainstream school in our article here.

 

In mainstream schools, you can choose between Standard track or Foundational track, depending on your child’s aptitude and condition. Take note to monitor his state of mind so that school does not become too stressful.

 

In special education schools, you can choose between the Academic track and the Vocational track.

 

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Health

 

Children in this age group are still susceptible to falling ill. Fortunately, you will be more adept at managing your child’s health at this stage. Taking and administering medicine a child with autism who is unwell can be challenging.

 

Here are some ways you can help them:

  • Talk to them about what they should do when they are unwell, let them know who can they call and what they should say.
  • Have a chat with the teacher-in-charge to help the teacher understand your child’s unique conditions and what both parties can do to facilitate a smooth transition in the event of illness.
  • Monitor your child closely when he/she is ill or keep your child at home for easy management.

 

Aside from physical health, mental health is equally important. As children with autism exhibit unique behaviours, it is important to initiate early therapies that will help your child cultivate positive behaviours in public. Just as importantly, be proactive in making your child’s daily sphere of contact aware of their condition so that they can exercise patience and understanding.

 

Here are some ways you can help:

  • Enrol your child in suitable therapies to learn useful skills and discourage negative behaviours in public. Some of these include Speech and Language, Relationship development etc.
  • Touch base with the people in your child’s daily social sphere, for example his/her teachers, classmates, and even parents of the classmates. Help them understand your child’s special needs and walk them through on the ways to interact with him/her.
  • Do provide positive expressions such as gratitude or appreciation to this immediate circle as they can provide great social and moral support for you and your child.

 

Read more about the different types of therapies and treatments in this article.

 

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Social

 

Overcoming Stigma and Prejudice

 

People with autism have different needs and can behave differently from what the public is used to. Insensitive remarks, unwarranted looks and unfounded assumptions are hurtful not only to children with autism, but to their parents too.

 

Here are some ways you can help to navigate this tough terrain:

  • It is daunting for some parents to share their child’s condition with the public. However, by doing so, you might be surprised by how understanding the public can be.
  • Starting early in childhood therapy can help your child cultivate good social behaviour like eye contact, have conversations and interactions with other children and adults in a safe condition.
  • Garnering social support by joining forums or groups in school with like-minded parents who understand your trials and tribulations.

 

To learn more about the social attitudes towards autism, click here.

 

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Bullying

 

Bullying is a delicate issue that can happen to any child in school. But this is a particularly tender issue for parents with kids with autism due to their unique and persistent behaviour.

 

As much as parents would love to shelter their kids from bullying, this is an issue that requires the partnership of both the school and the parent, or the teacher and the parent to manage. The best way is to nip it in the bud by having a chat with your child’s main teacher.

 

Here are some ways you can help them:

  • Talk to your child about possible bullying scenarios so your child can identify what it is.
  • Enlist the help of your child’s main teacher by sharing your concerns and mapping out some plans of actions if bullying occurs.
  • Enquire if the main teacher or yourself could share with the class (especially if it is a new class) about autism so your child’s classmates have an understanding of the condition.
  • Enlist the help of these classmates and keep an open channel for conversation between you, the classmates and the teacher. With their help, your child’s learning experience in school can be much smoother.

For more information about bullying and ways to help your child cope with bullying, click here.

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All content found on the All In website, has been created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

We hope you have found the information and tools on our website useful in supporting you and your loved ones in this journey of self-discovery!

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