Tips for Managing Autism
When you live with Autism, you have a unique perspective on what it’s like for a person to live with and experience the world with autism. Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is a term used to describe a range of autism types, each of which may present themselves very differently.
Autism can be a debilitating condition that frequently affects your everyday life. Tips to manage autism include identifying your triggers and learning how to manage them. Additionally, you can practise coping strategies such as maintaining healthy routines, prioritising self-care, remaining connected to your support system, and seeking help and advice from professionals.
Developing skills to help you to manage the emotional, physical and mental aspects of the disorder can set you on a path to live the fulfilling and happy life you deserve. Maple Community Services has a full menu of effective strategies and services to get you the help you need no matter how ASD affects you.
What are common triggers of Autism symptoms?
Many people on the autism spectrum experience episodes which can be triggered by certain environments or practices. This can be a normal reaction to feeling overwhelmed in an intense environment for people who have neurodiverse complications. When the body and mind is unable to process what is happening, then emotional or physical outbursts can occur. Emotional and physical triggers for people living with autism include:
- Breaks in routine or change in environment;
- Lack of sleep;
- Pent up emotions;
- Sensory overload such as noises, bright lights, or strong smells;
- Undiagnosed mental health problems.
It’s important to look beyond the behaviour itself to identify the underlying cause. These episodes are not necessarily behaviour issues that require intervention, but can be helped with coping mechanisms and appropriate accommodation.
What is the Four Stage Approach For Autism?
Identifying is the first step to addressing a symptom. By characterising and identifying a behaviour or a trigger, you can determine the tools and strategies to deal with it.
Identifying the communication behind the behaviour, why a certain trigger makes you react the way you do, what are your needs and desires, and what do you need to communicate. By understanding the behaviour and the trigger, we can learn how to avoid them or practise coping mechanisms to deal with them.
Work with your medical professionals to develop a management plan. This could involve certain forms of therapy or skills development. An applied behaviour analysis can help people with autism to learn new and effective behaviours. Some forms of medication can also help to mitigate symptoms and behaviours.
Preventing symptoms by creating calming, predictable and rewarding environments. Structured schedules and routines can be helped with visual timetables which help to smooth transitions between activities. You can also provide tools to mitigate overwhelming feelings.
What are Strategies for Coping With Autism?
Routines are good for all of us, but people with ASD often find a change in their routine can catch them off guard. Sticking to a regular routine and daily activities can help to calm your mind and avoid complications or episodes.
Look after yourself and pay attention to what your mind and body need, whether that’s time practising your favourite activity, spending down time with family, or simply reading a book. Take regular breaks throughout the day and remember to breathe often; you can pair this with clenching your fists in tune with your breathing or other anxiety reducing movements to help you stay focused and calm.
Engage in physical activities
It’s long been theorised that physical activity gets our endorphins flowing and helps us to feel good. In addition to this, it keeps our body healthy and helps to tire us out so that we sleep well. It can also be a great way to interact with others, meet new people, and form social bonds.
Take your medication
Persevering with medications is a very important part of coping with autism and maintaining self-care. If you find yourself with unwanted side effects or feel they are not working effectively, seek help from your doctor to make the necessary adjustments, whether that’s a different medication regimen or a different dosage.
Your support network are those around you that make you feel good and support you in the ways that you need. They are the kind of people with whom you gain energy rather than feeling drained by them. Whether they are your family, friends, support groups or others who are important to you, remain connected with them and support them too.
Know you are special
There is no one person exactly like you in the world. Embrace your differences and don’t feel like you need to please anybody except yourself.
Remember you are not alone
Although none of us are the same, every single one of us faces challenges and hardships and many have the same or similar hardships that you do. Some people choose to let these challenges consume them and isolate them from the world, while others learn and grow from them. Be the latter.
We are each dealt a deck of cards in life and it’s important that we play the hand we are dealt. Accepting your diagnosis and your symptoms may be the first step to leading a fulfilled life. Understand that there is so much more to you than your diagnosis. Be good to yourself, advocate for yourself, be good to others, and do all that you can to make your life better.
Don’t be afraid to seek help and advice from those who care for you, whether that be your medical doctor, family members, friends, or support workers. There are also countless organisations whose mission is to improve the lives of those with autism spectrum disorders. Here, we’ve linked to some of the organisations making strides in Australia:
- Autism Spectrum Australia – “Understanding, engaging & celebrating the strengths, interests & aspirations of people on the autism spectrum.”
- Autism Association of Western Australia – “To advance the personal development, equality of opportunity and community participation of people with Autism.”
- Autism Awareness Australia – “To improve the lives of all Australians on the autism spectrum and the families who love them.”
- Amaze – “Amaze provides support and information to autistic people, families, professionals and the wider community in Victoria.”
- Autism SA – “No matter where you are with your life journey, we are here to support you with advice, services, programs, education and resources.”
- Australian Autism Alliance – “Our purpose is to improve the life chances of autistic people and to facilitate collaboration within the autism community.”
Behavioural treatments such as occupational therapy, pivotal response treatment, and relationship development intervention are great tools to help you develop skills and find assistance with some of the challenges you may face. These treatments can focus on a range of developments such as visual processing skills, fine motor skills, self-regulation, self-care skills, handwriting, developmental milestones, organisation, executive functioning, and social skills.
How Can I Control My Autism?
If you find yourself in a difficult situation that brings on overwhelming feelings, there are strategies you can use to help you control the situation.
- First of all, be aware of your triggers and aim to avoid them as much as possible. If being in crowded or confined areas can overwhelm you, then avoid spending time in those places; instead, find places that calm you or make you feel good.
- Create a calm environment around you, remove distractions, clutter, and loud noises. In a moment of stress, practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, counting to ten, or specialised exercises to help restore your inner peace.
- If you find yourself in a situation of high stress, try listening to soothing music or a calming app or meditation to help relax you, control your anxiety, and temper other powerful emotions.