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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Autism
- 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.
Autism 101: a free online course. The Autism Society website. Available at: http://support.autism-society.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about%5Fcourse. Accessed May 14, 2013.
Autism spectrum disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 6, 2013. Accessed May 14, 2013.
Autism spectrum disorders (pervasive developmental disorders). National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-pervasive-developmental-disorders/index.shtml. Updated May 14, 2013. Accessed May 14, 2013.
Behrman RE, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2007.
Dawson G, Rogers S, Munson J, et al. Randomized, Controlled Trial of an Intervention for Toddlers With Autism: The Early Start Denver Model. Pediatrics. 2010;125(1):e17-23
Goetz CG. Goetz’s Textbook of Clinical Neurology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2007.
Maurice C, Green G, Luce SC, eds. Behavioral Intervention for Young Children with Autism: A Manual for Parents and Professionals. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed; 1996.
Myers SM, Johnson CP. Management of children with autistic spectrum disorders. Pediatrics. 2007;120:1162-1182.
Rapin I. An 8-year-old boy with autism. JAMA. 2001;285:1749-1757.
Stern TA, et al. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier; 2008.
- Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
- Review Date: 03/2014
- Update Date: 05/05/2014