As parents, you want your children to be healthy and happy always. You want them to grow up, live a fulfilling life and make a difference in this world. But what happens if your child’s journey turns unexpectedly and becomes something you could have never thought of? What if your child was diagnosed with something you probably have little idea of, something that is regularly misunderstood in the everyday world?
This anxious life is a reality for parents of children with autism.
Parenting is tough. Parenting a child with an autism diagnosis is even more terrifying because no parent is ready for something like that. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is not just a diagnosis – it sets in motion the need for treatments, special care, and lifestyle changes, which can often be daunting and challenging for parents.
As we celebrate World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd this year, it is important to address the concerns and needs of parents of children with autism.
World Autism Awareness Day is an annual observance that aims to bring together people from around the globe to spread awareness and information about ASD. First initiated by the Autism Society in 1970, World Autism Awareness Day was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007.
World Autism Awareness Day is the perfect opportunity to look at the needs of parents and caregivers of children with ASD. On that note, here are the practical and most useful tips for parents of children with autism.
Tips For Parenting A Child With Autism
Discovering that your child has autism is a tough situation for you and your family. It is okay to feel scared or overwhelmed by the reality of the situation. Even though the situation is challenging, much can be done with the help of information, compassion, and understanding. So if you are dealing with the tumultuous lows and minute highs of having a child with autism (god bless you), here are some tips that might come in handy.
1. Educate yourself.
It is essential to learn about the full spectrum of autistic disorders to understand your child’s situation. Try to find authentic sources to understand their diagnosis and treatment options better. Finding the right sources can be challenging. We have compiled a list of resources that might be useful for you.
The following books can be of great help for learning about autism spectrum disorders:
- Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry M. Prizant, Ph.D.,
- To Siri, With Love by Judith Newman, and
- Stim: An Autistic Anthology by Lizzie Huxley-Jones.
If you are not big on reading books, here are some podcasts that can help:
- The Autism Show,
- Spectrum, and
- Autism POVs.
2. Use technology in your teaching methods.
Kids are generally more adaptive and inquisitive with technology.
Therefore, leaning on technology for teaching your child can lead to much better results. There are different apps available that can help your child with educational, communication, and social skills. Some of them include the following:
- Autism Education (AutEdu),
- Autism Read and Write Pro, and
- Autism iHelp.
3. Do not become a helicopter parent.
Helicopter parents are the ones that are constantly on their child’s backs. They are obsessed with every little thing their child does and tend to react loudly to seemingly minor things. They leap into every situation, try to smoothen their child’s path, and ensure they are given special priority or treatment at every place.
Parents or caregivers of children with autism are much more likely to become helicopter parents because they are constantly worried about the well-being of their children. Now, even if this care comes from a good place, it becomes problematic for your child. Helicopter parenting can sabotage the development of neurotypical children’s self-determination, individuality, and independence. Imagine the harm it can do to your child with autism.
Therefore, it is important to resist being a helicopter parent. This does not mean you don’t have to look out for your child. It simply means that you have to trust them to make the right choices, fail at things miserably, and eventually find their way out.
4. Avoid comparisons.
All of us have learned what competitive parenting is. Whose child said the first words? Took the first steps? Got the best grades? And whatnot.
While parenting a child with autism, it is easy to feel that your child is being left behind with respect to others of their age. But if you engage in this constant comparison, you are only going to end up making your child feel less than others and, in the process, blame yourself for whatever is happening. These things are counterproductive and can harm your and your child’s well-being. Therefore, it is essential that you recognize that every child is unique – with their quirks, habits, and personalities. It is important that you celebrate this uniqueness in your child and make them feel like they are enough because they are. And so are you, pal!
5. Take care of yourself, too.
Raising a child with autism can be incredibly rewarding yet exhaustingly tough at times. Therefore, while it is important to devote your selfless care to your child’s well-being, it is also important to be a caregiver for yourself. In the process of taking care of your child, it is essential that you preserve your energy and well-being too. You can only be fully there for your child if you are there for yourself first. Both you and your child can experience greater well-being when you address your personal needs too.
World Autism Awareness Day is the perfect opportunity to talk about the needs of parents and caregivers of children with autism. We hope these tips will make your challenging journey a tad bit easier. This World Autism Awareness Day, we hope we can build a more supportive and empathetic society for people with autism and their family members.
If you need expert help parenting a child, here are the best mental health books for parents.
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