If someone asks for examples of people who are more likely to acquire post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than anyone, what will you say?
The most common sufferers, of course, are the soldiers who have gone to war and back. They have seen so much violence in the battlefield that it’s almost impossible for them to move forward.
You may also talk about the victims and witnesses of abuse, shooting, murder, and other crimes. After all, the perpetrators don’t pick the time and place when they’ll execute their heinous plans. They don’t care who will see them in action either, so kids and adults alike who happen to be in the location are prone to trauma as well.
“PTSD is a response to trauma that can make individuals feel scared, hopeless, or horrified for at least one month following the trauma.” –Rob Cole, LMHC
Nonetheless, many people are not aware of the fact that individuals within the autism spectrum can develop PTSD. Some take that as an exaggeration at times because it may indeed seem odd to believe that the persons who mostly stay in their head and usually lack empathy can get affected by traumatic experiences, but it’s the truth.
What can only be more important than realizing that now is learning the ways to shield an autistic person from PTSD. “It identifies and addresses traumatic experiences that have overwhelmed the brain’s natural coping capacity, and, as a result, have created traumatic symptoms, such as flashbacks or anxiety, or harmful coping strategies, such as isolating behavior and self-medication with alcohol or drugs.” Dr. Romas Buivydas, PhD, LMHC elaborates further.
- Teach Independence
The first thing you can do as a concerned friend or family member is to teach the disabled individual how to take care of his or her personal needs. It is ideal to start during childhood so that he or she has enough years to practice such skills. If he or she feels hungry, for instance, show where to get the food or how to use the microwave. The person should be able to bathe, change clothes, and perhaps even do basic chores at home.
If an autistic fellow can do all of that and more, he or she won’t ever be helpless in front of other people. There’s nothing to worry about, considering they ask for assistance from loved ones. In case they come across strangers, though, they risk getting ridiculed or terrorized by them.
- Know The People Around Them
What’s difficult to change in people with special needs is their lack of interest in talking about their day. When you give a direct question, it is pure luck if their eyes focus on you. Assuming they are not in the mood to speak at all, these individuals may not even glance at you.
To protect autistic people against wrongdoers, you have to take the initiative to get to know the crowd they mingle with regularly. In case your child has autism (read signs of child autism here: Babble & BabyCenter) you should meet every student, teacher, parent, and other staff in the institution. If he or she is an adult or teenager who is a part of a larger group now, you ought to go to their hangout place often so that you have an idea of how those folks might influence someone with special needs.
- Ensure That They Go To Bully-Free Places
“Having few or no supportive relationships can increase the risk of depression in both men and women.” Ben Martin, Psy.D. said. The harsh truth is that individuals within the autism spectrum are always targets of bullies. Sometimes, a random person on the streets will yell derogatory remarks about autistic people. Other times, if the disabled individual is alone, a thuggish stranger might physically hit him or her, knowing that he or she won’t be able to fight back.
You should understand that you cannot call out every bully on the planet. There’s too many of them, to be honest, and it’s unfortunate that they don’t realize what’s wrong with their actions. Nonetheless, you can shield the person with autism from the trauma that low-life individuals can instigate by bringing the former to places where there are strict regulations against any form of bullying.
The process of protecting someone from PTSD does not end after a day or two. It is never-ending; you cannot stop until you’re confident that there are no more offenders, bullies, and violators lurking out there. However, doing the three tips above is an excellent way to defend an autistic individual from traumatic events better.