How To Deal With Your Child’s Stress

I saw him after a year. He came to visit for his annual assessment.

He leads a busy, college life.

I felt something was different as he greeted me.

His caring nature shone through in the way he asked about my family and pets.

But something was going on. He was a little repetitive with his questions and his eye gaze was fleeting. It felt like the weight of the world was on his shoulders.

 

Yes, it was the stress.

 

Sure enough, he himself commented on how stressed he felt about his 12th grade exams.

 

It’s wonderful that Aahan can talk about his stress and feelings.

There are other autistic individuals who can’t.

 

Why do they experience stress?

 

autism-and-stress-infographic

 

Think of your own child. If he can express and let you know why he’s stressed- that’s wonderful.

 

But if he can’t, then it could be one or a combination of factors.

He probably knows he’s different from others. He tries to fit in, but doesn’t know how.

He may not have the tools to communicate effectively.

He does not want to be wrong. He wants to be accepted by his parents and peers.

He’s hugely sensitive. He may need to pace up and down or run around to regulate himself.

He may need to stim- but others look at him and make him feel odd.

His sensitivities don’t make it any easier. On top of all this, he may find it difficult to adapt to the changing scenarios of the world.

All this could create stress in his life.

 

The important thing is for you, the parent to stay calm.

Work on yourself first. Step out of your crisis mode.

Then reach out and help your child.

 

Here’s what you can do to help.

 

  1. Focus on simple activities.

 

Engaging in simple activities brings the child (or adult) to the present moment.

Look around your home. What work needs to be done?

Do the clothes have to be put in the washer? Do the dried utensils need to be put away? Do you need some help with cooking?

 

Involve your child. You can engage your child in simple outdoor games that s/he may enjoy.

Do things together. This will help your child to regulate.

 

 

 

  1. Add challenges

 

Put your child on the spot to problem solve.

Don’t do the thinking for your child.

 

Engaging in a task that involves problem solving will ground your child in the present moment.

I have worked on this with my son and students.

Once they’re able to solve problems themselves, they feel much more competent and motivated.

 

This makes them feel better.

 

 

 

Watch this wonderful video with Freny and Touraz.

See how Freny gives time to Touraz to move from watering one plant to another. When he’s not able to do it on his own, she guides him.

Also note the way she makes him realize he needs more water.

 

Note: This video is not picture perfect. What in life is?

 

The point is to show you how you can guide your child to make him a competent thinker and make him feel fulfilled.

 

  1. Connect emotionally

 

When you’re with your child, connect emotionally. Be fully present.

 

Your job as a parent is not just to teach your child academics and get her homework done.

 

It’s also important to chill out together.

 

One of my families is visiting Goa presently.

We had a skype meeting this morning. Their assignment for this week?

 

Have fun and connect emotionally. Enjoy each other’s company.

 

And take care of yourself too.

Don’t feel guilty about enjoying a luxurious massage.

 

  1. Medicate if necessary

 

When the stress is chronic, it may be necessary to get medical advice.

Natural medicine is a good option.

 

A couple of doctors that I recommend to my families are:

 

Dr. Anaita Hegde (Pediatric neurologist)

 

Dr Shanta Venkat (Biomedical specialist)

(Dr Shanta consults through SAI Connections)

 

  1. Physical activity and Yoga

 

I find these to be very effective.

Let your child work off steam. Physical activity including walking and running are very beneficial.

 

Get your child involved in a sport they enjoy.

Yoga and breathing exercises are amazing stress busters too.

 

 

  1. Pay close attention to what your child is trying to tell you

 

One of my students finds studies extremely difficult.

He has completed his 12th grade, but may not be able to study further (at present).

 

He enjoys connecting with people and is a hard worker.

What’s the harm in finding him a job that supports his skill set?

Once he feels competent, he can pursue further studies if he likes.

 

We may be focused on ‘one right way.’

Our children are here to teach us much more.

 

more than one way

 

It’s not easy to deal with the stress our children experience.

The first step is to determine that you can resolve it.

Then work on the steps systematically.

 

“Don’t think that there’s a different, better child ‘hiding’ behind the autism. This is your child. Love the child in front of you. Encourage his strengths, celebrate his quirks, and improve his weaknesses, the way you would with any child. You may have to work harder on some of this, but that’s the goal.”

- Claire Scovell LaZebnik

If you’re experiencing any stress related issues with your autistic child, don’t hesitate to reach out.

 

Kamini Lakhani

Kamini Lakhani is the founder and director of SAI Connections. She has been providing services in the field of autism for more than 20 years and is the authorized director of Professional Training for RDI in India and the Middle East. She is also the mother of a young adult with autism.

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