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‘Pag Nafu-Frustrate Siya, Nangungurot Siya’: Anne Clutz On Prepping Son With Autism For New Baby
PHOTO BY INSTAGRAM /ANNECLUTZ
  • Anne Clutz, aka Joanne Clutario, has sought the opinion of a different specialist to assess her son Joo's development. Earlier in 2019, the makeup guru and content creator tearfully revealed in a vlog that then four-year-old Joo had been diagnosed with Level Three Autism Spectrum Disorder, which requires substantial support. 

    The diagnosis called for a combination of occupational therapy, speech therapy, and behavioral therapy.In a recent upload, Anne shared the outcome of Joo's third assessment with a developmental pediatrician.

    She noted how Joo would claw at her during their consultation with the doctor. 

    Social anxiety disorder

    "Nag-transform siya do'n sa loob ng clinic na parang ibang bata," Anne said. "As in kinukurot niya 'ko kanina. Ang dami kong kalmot sa kamay kasi gusto na niyang tumigil kami mag-usap ni doktora."

    Based on the development pediatrician's evaluation, Joo was found to be dealing more with social anxiety disorder than autism.

    As such, it was recommended that he start attending school so he can practice socializing with other children."Puwede siyang mag-regular school, pero preferably daw yung mga small classes lang, mga tatlo lang sila, ganyan, or less than 10 siguro," Anne shared.

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    "Or kung sa regular school naman, meron siyang shadow teacher." Anne expressed her bewilderment, recalling how when Joo was younger, he would even stand in front of people at events.

    She also felt the pandemic might have helped trigger the progression of Joo's social anxiety.

    Some of Anne and her husband's biggest concerns were Joo's challenges in communicating, on top of his clawing and pinching behavior when he's frustrated.

    RELATED: 6 Things to Check in a Preschool for Your Special Needs Child

    According to the development pediatrician's report, Joo closes his eyes in social situations and has limited interest in conversation and social interactions.

    In fact, in some of Anne's vlogs, Joo can be seen closing his eyes while at the supermarket or at gatherings.

    Joo will need to increase the frequency of his occupational and speech therapy sessions. 

    ‘Iba-iba ang cases ng ASD’

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    Although many children suffer from ASD, Anne was quick to point out to parents that diagnoses and therapy will be on a case-to-case basis.

    "Ang ASD, hindi siya 100 percent pare-pareho sa bawat case," Ann explained. "Iba-iba 'yan. Sobrang lawak nitong… Kaya nga spectrum, e, kasi malawak talaga siya, so iba-iba case.”

    Anne and her husband Kitz will also need to establish a sleep and mealtime routine, apart from limiting Joo's exposure to media and gadgets. 

    RELATED: 5 Reasons Why It's Important for Kids to Have A Routine

    Helping kids on the spectrum to become an older sibling

    As Anne is due to give birth to their third child, she also sought advice on how to ease Joo with the changes of becoming an older brother. 

    Joo's doctor suggested they use storybooks on expecting a new baby in the family, and to set aside undivided bonding time with him.

    ALSO READ: ‘Sundan Na ‘Yan’: How To Prepare Your Child For A New Sibling

    "Sa mga case ng autism, 'yan ang mahirap sa kanila, yung changes," Anne said. "Ano sila, e, routine, more on routine. 

    “So kapag may pagbabago bigla, mahirap sa kanila 'yon. At least alam ko na yung gagawin ko, na unti-unti na naming ipapasok, or ikekuwento, ipapakita na may illustration, may drawing, ayan, baby. Nasa'n yung baby, nasa tummy."

    3 tips to prepare children with autism for a new baby

    1. Slowly expose them to the sounds of a baby.

    Sounds are strong triggers for autistic children and those of a crying, cooing baby will be unfamiliar and uncomfortable for them.

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    Preparation must be long before the baby arrives. Try making them watch or listen to a video of a baby crying to see their reaction, gradually increasing the duration and volume. 

    RELATED: ‘My Son Maybe Different, But It’s Never A Disability’: Mom Shares Her Son's Autism Journey

    Parents may also try incorporating this routine during playtime or use noise-cancelling headphones. This exercise not only helps desensitize the child to the sounds of a baby, but also encourages the reaction of independently reaching out for the noise-canceling headphones to muffle the sound.

    2. Teach your child about the idea of babies.

    As kids with ASD will be sensitive to environmental changes and sensory overload, you will need to familiarize them with the idea of having a baby around in the house. Consider showing photos or TV shows of babies and talk about what babies do, such as breastfeeding, crying, and sleeping. 

    Try practicing with a doll and pretend to take care of it, cradling it in your arms, pretending to feed it and change its diaper. The more your child sees what babies do and how they are looked after, the more you will be able to dampen their discomfort around a new sibling.

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    3. Involve your child in the preparation for the new baby.

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    Make your child a part of your activities as you prepare for their new sibling. Try bringing them along when shopping for baby clothes and items and letting them choose for you.

    You can even involve him or her in decorating the baby room

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