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Autism: Recognizing symptoms and finding support for your family

Autism: Recognizing symptoms and finding support for your family
Brightline Logo Mark Orange
Brightline team

Mar 28, 2024

Every child is unique. Even siblings can look, act, and feel in ways that are completely distinct from one another. That holds true for kids who are neurodivergent (meaning they have brain differences that affect how their brain works) and kids who aren’t. 

Some neurodivergent kids are also autistic. And kids with autism do a lot of things differently. They might have a hard time controlling big emotions, processing feelings, and communicating. All of these differences (and others listed below) can also make it hard to make and keep friendships.

At Brightline, we don’t diagnose autism or “treat” the disorder, but we can refer you to an expert who can do both. What we are here to do is support parents and kids as they navigate life — and for some, life includes the challenges that come along with having a brain that works differently. 

Let’s talk about some of the symptoms to look for, how to support your child, and how Brightline can support you as a parent.

Some symptoms of autism

The symptoms of autism aren’t unique only to kids who have been diagnosed with the disorder. And if your child has one or more of the symptoms below, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have autism. But being aware of what your child may be experiencing makes you more able to give them the support they need.

Notice if your child consistently has a hard time:

  • Regulating their emotions 

  • Expressing big feelings in healthy ways

  • Communicating with other people

  • Reading facial expressions, understanding jokes, or picking up on social cues

  • Fitting in with peer groups or finding lasting friendships

  • Transitioning from one activity or social setting to another

  • Dealing with unexpected changes

How to support your child

Every child, whether they have symptoms of autism or not, needs support. As a parent, you want to help them build their strengths and ability to thrive. It’s important to work to develop weaker areas and to encourage them to grow by trying new things. And when a child has a hard time with any of the symptoms above, you might feel pressured to help them either feel better, get better, or both.

Brightline can help you set your child up for success. Becoming aware of their triggers and finding strategies to help reduce or manage negative reactions can make you feel more in control of unexpected situations. Connect with us to: 

  • Talk about any and all of the symptoms above that your child may be experiencing

  • Make a strategy to help ease their symptoms at home, at school, and in the community

  • Learn ways to anticipate situations that might trigger a response in your child so they aren’t constantly having to adapt

  • Discover what to do when the preparation doesn’t work and your child becomes overwhelmed

Even as you work (so much work!) towards positive changes and consistency, what is equally as important is balance. Sure, you can help your child learn and improve, but it’s also vital for you to focus on and celebrate what is already wonderful about them. 

Imperfect and remarkable can coexist. We are all works in progress — being a child (and being a parent) is messy. 

So even among the mistakes and issues, remember to praise your child openly when they do something well — or praise them just for being themselves. It makes them feel good. And it models using positive language, which doesn’t always come naturally to neurodivergent kids. 

Keep your praise consistent, clear, and simple for the most impact. You don’t have to be super creative here — repetition is okay! And if your child isn’t into verbal praise, a frequent smile and thumbs up might be a great way to connect with them instead.

Here are some examples:

  • Good job brushing your teeth

  • Great coloring

  • You have an awesome sense of humor

  • I love the shirt you’re wearing today

  • I like the way you shared your toys with your sister

  • Great job finishing your homework

How Brightline can support you as a parent

Connecting with Brightline is one way to get the help you need to be the parent you’ve always wanted to be. Your team is here to bring you and your family resources, connect you to providers in your community, and show you ways to advocate for your child.

We can help you:

  • Talk about your child’s behaviors, triggers, and preferences with your family, friends, and school staff to manage expectations and surround your child with the support they need

  • Learn how to help your child settle down when they are upset (and ways for you to stay calm, too)

  • Find the right words to validate their feelings (and your own)

  • Build your tolerance and patience while lowering your stress levels

  • Discover how to release shame and guilt

  • Prepare what to do next if you’re waiting for a diagnosis

  • Figure out what to do if you have already gotten a diagnosis

  • Write letters to your child’s teacher or counselor to ask about setting up a support framework at school

  • And much more

Have questions or need more information? Reach out to Brightline today.