Cincinnati Family Magazine

Your # 1 Hometown Family Resource

March 2, 2024

How to Support Kids on the Spectrum

Having a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) brings many challenges for both the child and family, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

Being proactive for your kids’ health and supporting them every step of the way early on can help optimize outcomes for your kid with autism spectrum disorder amongst their health and development.

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder

“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disability. This means it is a brain-based condition,” says Julia S. Anixt, M.D., Jennifer D. Smith, PsyD and Stephanie Weber, PsyD, program and training directors at The Kelly O’Leary Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders and Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND), Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. “Although the exact cause of autism is not known, we know that genetics play an important role. Autism characteristics are not identified until about 12 -18 months of age when early language and social milestones are not met as expected.“

Understanding what is going on with your child with ASD will help when finding ways to support them. In fact, researchers have found more than 100 genes to be strongly associated with autism, many of these relating to communication between cells in the brain (neurons) or control the expression of other genes that impact the way neurons function. Therefore, children with ASD may have sensitivities to stimuli in the environment, such as sounds, smells or lights that can be upsetting, according to Anixt, Smith and Weber.

Supporting Your Child with ASD

Every child with ASD is unique, and so are their specific goals. However, in general, support your child to develop his communication skills in ways that work best for him — whether that’s verbally, with sign language, or using augmentative communication approaches (such as pictures or a communication device).

Be Proactive

Being proactive means taking care of you and your family’s mental health and well-being, (including older and younger siblings). The saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup” has meaning for all. There are an abundance of family support organizations out there to gain information from or find solidarity in others with similar experiences, say Anixt, Smith and Weber.

LOCAL SUPPORT

Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati
autismcincy.org

Autism and We
autismandwe.org

Our Tribe Cincy
ourtribecincy.com

OhioSibs
ohiosibs.org

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Siblings with a Mission, and SibShops
cincinnatichildrens.org

Ohio Family to Family Health Information Center
ohiof2f.org

Ohio Parent to Parent Network
ohiof2f.org/ohiop2p

Big Blue Canopy
bigbluecanopy.com

KTL therapy
ktltherapy.com

ABC Pediatric Therapy
abcpediatrictherapy.com

Puzzle Pieces – A Sensory Sensation
puzzlepiecesohio.com

First Steps in Northern Kentucky
chfs.ky.gov/agencies/ccshcn/Pages/poe.aspx

Help Me Grow Cincinnati
helpmegrow.org

Sea of Smiles
seaofsmilesdds.com

Union Pediatric Dentistry
grandslamsmiles.com

Developmental Disabilities Services in Ohio counties and Kentucky
dodd.ohio.gov and chfs.ky.gov/agencies/dbhdid/Pages/default.aspx

About the Author

Amanda Hayward

Amanda Hayward is editor of this publication. She is from Cincinnati, Ohio, and a mom of three with one on the way. If she's not writing for Cincinnati Family, you'll find her running, juggling kids, teaching group fitness classes and cooking up healthy recipes.