Your Health

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Autism

Autism is a lifelong condition. Children with autism and their families may benefit from early intervention. This can include a structured, predictable schedule. With help, many people with autism learn to cope with their condition. Most need assistance and support throughout their lives. Others are able to work and live independently when they grow up.

Making these lifestyle changes may help your child both at home and at school:

  • Follow a predictable schedule—Your child may not tolerate change or surprise well. Minimize these types of distractions.
  • Maintain a structured environment—Things being out of place can be very upsetting to a person with autism.
  • Be aware of unusual sensitivities—There is no way of knowing what a person with autism actually receives from his senses. Clothes may feel like sandpaper, broken bones may not hurt, whispers may be roars, and hugs may be painful. Normal expectations must be set aside and new rules must be adopted.
  • Avoid distractions—Slight disturbances may disrupt a person with autism from the task at hand.
  • Organize tasks—Even simple tasks may need to be broken down into small parts and directed one-at-a-time to keep the child on track. Provide visual activity schedules.
  • Use behavioral techniques—These involve rewarding desirable behaviors to increase those behaviors. Work with a behavioral therapist who can provide guidelines for you and your child. Some studies have shown that this kind of treatment may lead to improvements in language, social skills, and behavior.

You will need monitor your child's progress and provide feedback to his healthcare team and teachers. Be sure that you feel comfortable with your child's doctor and therapist. These professionals should have a lot of experience with autism. Stay in contact with this team and call them if you have any concerns.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
  • Review Date: 03/2014 -
  • Update Date: 00/50/2014 -
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