The journey begins with noticing something is different about the child. There are issues with communication and social interaction. The child displays strange behavior when feeling the need to protect itself. Verbal and physical outbursts appear, making the child seem like an exploding time bomb. The child is referred for an assessment, and before you know it, the diagnosis is autism. It’s a huge shock, disappointment, and challenge for parents. This article is designed to provide some essential information on the subject.
The first thing parents need to know is that they are not alone. The internet provides a wealth of advice and information on the subject. When looking at the Autism Parenting Magazine, it is comforting to see that parents can access specialist help on subjects such as handling transitions and sensory issues. Real-life stories also help as parents can relate to them, and will benefit from someone else’s journey.
It is advisable to contact the local council as carers sometimes have extra help and financial support available. Charities exist to help parents of autistic children. The National Autistic Society actually runs courses to train parents and carers.
When it comes to schooling it may be possible to access extra tuition help for the child. Teachers can be asked to come on board with the journey, and to intervene in situations if Autistic children are being bullied by their peers.
It’s highly beneficial to meet the parents of other autistic children as well. They can offer practical tips, saving time and effort through their practical experience. Autistic children frequently have problems making other friends but will benefit from knowing other similar children. The parents can help each other, even practically through meals and day trips or even holidays.
Having Time for Yourself
It’s easy as a parent to simply focus on the all-consuming issues. The trouble is, this is a marathon and not a sprint. Parents need to pace themselves for the long haul. That means treating themselves, such as having nice holidays if they can be afforded. Anything that makes life easier is well worth considering for one’s own mental health.
It’s not a sign of weakness to say ‘yes’ when friends or grandparents offer to have the child for the day or the weekend. It’s important for parents to have marriage time and date nights if possible.
Children love sleepovers, and these can provide an evening and night for parents to relax at home alone. If there is more than one child, it’s important that they have one to one time too. It’s so easy to focus on the challenging child at the expense of the other ones who also need time and love.
Enter the Child’s World
Spend time loving and affirming the child. Get to know them and listen well, helping them to communicate. Understand what makes them tick, how they are wired, and what freaks them out. If they display strange physical movements when stressed, don’t stop them, but realize they are a safety mechanism.
Autistic children need a disciplined daily timetable. They have interests and can often be intense about them. Repetition is also symptomatic of autism. Learn about the child’s hobbies and involve others in these, to build their experience of social interaction. Spend time watching television together.
Train the Child
It’s important to teach the child life skills so they can relate to others and socialize. What interests and sports do other school classmates get involved in? Your child needs to learn about these. The more they understand the more they will fit in. The more they fit in, the more they’ll be accepted.
Autistic children need to learn about their condition. They will want to know they can still have a positive future, and that they are not inferior to others. When meeting health care professionals it’s good for them to attend as well, so they will feel more powerful and part of the process. As they get older, they will need to pursue and protect their needs more and more, with less parental intervention and support. That includes career choices and employment.
Yes – the future is going to be different for the child. A different future is still a future. Parents can access help from magazines, charities, and organizations, the local council, and schools. Make time for your own and your family’s headspace when you can. Learn how the child thinks, feels and sees the world, and train them with coping strategies. The task will be challenging but the rewards will be great.