Life of an Autistic Child's Parent
The Ups and Downs
You already know this, I don't have to tell you, parenting is hard. Parenting is hard even if your child is the perfect little angel who never makes a single mistake. But let's get real for a sec, your child is Autistic. You don;t spend too many rosy afternoons cuddled up with your baby sipping lemonade on the porch do you? No, you are more than likely just sitting down after another exhausting day praying that some how tomorrow will be better.
Raising an autistic child has its own set of unique challenges. Some autistic children are never able to tell their parents they love them. Some autistic children are violent and some are very moody.
Here is a short list of a few things you can do to make the process a little easier.
Get Some Support
Time For Teams
If you are like most parents, nay, most people, you want to try and be superman or superwoman and do it all yourself. Perhaps you feel that asking for help is admitting defeat. Well, it isn't. Asking for help is exactly how you are going to get this done.
There are many support groups out there for parents of Autistic children. There are groups that cater to the parents, groups that cater to the children and even groups that work on the child/adult relationships.
You can join a formal group, perhaps an association or something held at the hospital/clinic, but you can also form your own groups. Perhaps you know a few other parents of autistic children that could use a hand once in a while. It doesn't have to be a very official thing. The benefits of support groups are more often the association with people who feel your pain than they are anything else.
Online forums and group chat sessions can also relieve a bit of anxiety and provide a great deal of support to those who have autistic children.
Your Child Is Your Child
One of the hardest things about parenting a child with autism is being able to look past the outbursts and the negative behaviors and finding the positive moments to rely on.
Your child is unique. Their brain is unique, their personality is unique and THAT is what you have to focus on.
Remember that your child is struggling too. Take a moment every once in a while and imagine what it must be like to have a brain that doesn't function properly. Imagine not being able to control your emotions or read those of other people. Your child is unique. Celebrate that.
Perhaps your child loves a certain thing. I worked with a child that LOVED Jeopardy. So we celebrated that on a regular basis. For Halloween he dressed up as the host of Jeopardy, a lot of our conversation revolved around the show and we even played Jeopardy once in a while when he was in the mood.
By celebrating his likes and his uniqueness he ended up really opening up to us and his behaviors towards us became pleasant and manageable.
Become Your Child's Expert
Momma Knows Best
There seem to be so many people in an autistic child's life. Their therapists, their teachers, their counselors, their doctor, their parents, etc. Each one of these people contributes to the success and well being of the child. But who is the captain of this travelling ship? You.
Parents are terribly busy creatures. Places to go, work to do, children to raise and dinner to get on the table before soccer practice. So it is natural for the parent of an autistic child to want to rely on the doctors and staff to be in charge of the care of their child. Let's not forget however, that doctors see hundreds of patients a year (probably more). Their main concern may not be your child. Perhaps they see your child once every couple weeks, or maybe once every couple of months. You see your child regularly.
Use this position to become the expert of your child and everything that they do. Get to know their likes and dislikes. Get to know the things that upset them and the things that make them happy. Realize what is a tense situation for them and what may be too much for their autistic brain to handle.
Arming yourself with this knowledge can help you prepare in every situation. It can really help you to avoid possible scenarios where your child might suffer. In the case of raising an autistic child, knowledge really is power.
The Hardest of Them All
Being consistent is nearly impossible. How many of us really have a routine that we stick to? As hard as it may be, in the case of autism it can be the miracle worker that we so desperately need.
In most cases, change and unpredictability can lead to outbursts and rapid behavior changes in children with Autism. Their brains rely and thrive off of predictability and routine.
Creating a routine that works both for you as the parent and works for your child is the golden ticket to success in any child parent relationship.
How do you create a good routine? By becoming your child's expert. Knowing what your child likes and what his or her triggers are, allows you the ability to craft your childs perfect day. Realizing what your child can and can't do is critical in making sure both you and your child's needs are being met.