Do you have a shy child, or do you think they could be showing signs of autism? In this blog, we’ll explore the differences between shy children and those with autism so parents can better understand their child’s behavior. Read on to unlock the power of understanding.
Is it Shyness or ASD?
Shy children and those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can often exhibit similar behaviors, making it difficult for concerned parents to distinguish between them. Here are some of the commonalities seen in both categories:
- Difficulty initiating conversations or responding to social cues
- Preference for solitary activities rather than group play
- Avoidance of eye contact
- Appearing uncomfortable in new environments or crowded places
- Lack of interest in other people’s emotions or feelings
While these traits may be shared by both shy children and those with ASD, subtle differences should be explored further. Let’s start with communication.
Communication can be difficult for both bashful children and those on the spectrum. While there are some commonalities between the two, it’s important to note that there are also subtle differences in how they communicate.
- Shy children may be hesitant to talk or engage in conversation, but they typically understand and respond to questions, instructions, and social cues.
- Children with autism may have difficulty understanding verbal language or responding appropriately to questions. They may also struggle with conversational skills such as eye contact, staying on topic, using gestures, and making small talk.
- Shy children often prefer one-on-one conversations, while children with autism can become overwhelmed in social situations due to sensory overload.
- Shy children usually don’t have any difficulty expressing their emotions, whereas children with autism may show limited emotional expression or have difficulty recognizing and understanding emotions.
- Shy children may take longer to warm up to new people and situations while children with autism often experience heightened anxiety when meeting someone new or dealing with an unfamiliar situation.
- Shy children will typically use body language such as fidgeting, avoiding eye contact, and speaking in a low voice when uncomfortable, whereas children with autism may display verbal outbursts or physical aggression due to their inability to regulate their emotions.
- Although shy children may be hesitant to make eye contact with unfamiliar people, they will likely seek out the support of their guardian or caregiver. Over time, a timid child may become more comfortable in new situations.
There are also other clues to look for if you’re concerned your child may be on the spectrum.
Look Out for These Signs: Other Indicators of Autism in Your Child
There are a few other telltale signs outside of communication issues that may indicate your child may be on the spectrum.
- They may not respond when you call their name
- A child with ASD may get overwhelmed by certain noises, smells or textures
- Children on the spectrum might show a restricted interest in a particular activity and repeat it frequently
- Their language development can regress over time
- A child with autism may have difficulty making eye contact with others
- Children on the spectrum may struggle to understand social cues or nonverbal communication like body language or facial expressions
- They could be sensitive to changes in routine and become distressed if something unexpected happens.
Hopefully, these tips will help you determine if you need to seek out an expert’s advice for your child who may be on the spectrum. Once you receive a diagnosis, you may feel overwhelmed and a little lost, but a few tips can help you on your new parenting journey with your neurodivergent child.
How to Parent A Child With Autism?
If your child has received an autism diagnosis, you’re likely going to be experiencing a wide range of emotions. From disbelief, fear, and anger to sadness and back again. The first thing you need to do is be gentle with yourself.
The life you thought your child would have is forever altered, and it is natural to need time to adjust. Here are a few more tips to help you and your child on your new journey on the spectrum:
Educate Yourself and Educate Your Circle
Learn as much as possible about autism spectrum disorder and how it affects your child. Read books, join parenting chat groups, and sign up for online resources. The more you know about ASD, the more prepared you will be to help your child – and your entire family – handle the struggles and delights accompanying the condition.
It is just as important to educate everyone that you and your child spend time with about ASD. The more your loved ones understand the reasons behind the behaviors they see in your child, the more support and understanding you will both receive.
Throw Out Most Traditional Parenting Approaches
The hardest part about parenting a neurodivergent child is letting go of preconceived notions about parenting. All of the advice you were raised on no longer applies when you’re dealing with children with neurological differences. This can be easier said than done, but we promise once you let go of old beliefs, you will make room for new strategies, acceptance, and a smoother ride for you and your child.
Meet your Child Where They’re At
Children with autism learn and grow at their own rate, so it’s a waste of time and energy to compare their development to that of their neurotypical counterparts. Support your child where they are and help set realistic goals that let them (and you) see and celebrate their successes.
Why it is Important to Get a Diagnosis
While it may seem intimidating to consider the possibility of your child having autism spectrum disorder as opposed to being shy, it’s critical you get a diagnosis for them. While it may seem frightening, this validation of your suspicions is a good thing, as it is key to getting the right help and resources for your family.
The earlier a diagnosis is made, the better it can be for helping your child learn how to cope with their feelings. A timely assessment helps ensure that children receive interventions that enable them to reach their full potential as early as possible. When you get an early diagnosis, you can also start planning for your child’s future education and work options sooner rather than later.
ABA Therapy and Social Communication
You may have heard about ABA therapy but are still fuzzy on what exactly it is. ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy is a form of intervention used to teach children with autism, intellectual disabilities, and other developmental challenges. It focuses on increasing positive behaviors while decreasing negative ones.
ABA techniques have proven to be effective in helping children develop social communication skills such as:
- Following verbal instructions
- Engaging in conversation
- Answering questions
- Exchanging ideas
Through ABA therapy, children can learn to better understand and use language for social interaction. To sum it up, ABA therapy can help children on the spectrum build meaningful relationships with others and become more independent over time.
Summing It All Up
This article explored the subtle differences between a shy child and a child with autism. It is important to note that both shyness and autism are unique to each individual, so it can be difficult for parents to know what’s going on with their child without seeking professional help.
If you think that your child may have autism, reach out for professional help and remember that you are not alone in this journey.
If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.
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