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Autistic children families need priorities

DALLAS, May 2 (UPI) -- Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders need to prioritize and revisit family goals and roles, a U.S. child psychiatrist suggests.

Dr. Catherine Karni, an autism expert at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, says many parents and caregivers of autistic children should make taking care of themselves as one of their priorities.

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Karni suggests that adult caregivers learn about positive self-talk -- focusing on positive statements such as "I can handle whatever comes," or "Today had limitless possibilities" -- and practice it daily.

She also suggests parents learn organizational styles and ask for help.

"Parents should not lose sight of their dreams and should re-energize," Karni says in a statement.

Parents should not let fear of the diagnosis keep them inside their home, Karni says.

She recommends finding a support group of like-minded people and have someone -- a spouse, partner, friend or neighbor -- to attend it with. Also, spouses should set aside "alone time" with each other and make time for any other children in the family.

Finally, Karni suggests setting conversational boundaries when speaking to others about autistic children.

"Everyone will have opinions," Karni says. "Keep in mind that you decide what information to share with your family and casual acquaintances."

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