Being a parent is a challenge even in the best of times. And having a child with special needs can obviously be far more difficult.
Believe it or not, about 1 in 59 children born in the United States is on the autism spectrum. When a baby shows early signs of autism, it can be a scary and confusing time for new parents. After all, there are so many questions, and you want to understand how to best care for your child.
This article is filled with great tips for raising a child with autism. Let's take a look at some things you need to know that can make parenting a child with autism less stressful.
1. Be Prepared for Advice You Didn't Ask For:
Everyone is an expert on everything, right? Yes, receiving advice from everyone under the sun can be exhausting, especially when most of it is uninformed and useless.
Friends and family only want to help, just keep in mind that not all advice is good advice. And the advice for how to raise your autistic child will never end, so prepare yourself and get used to it.
2. It's OK to Let Yourself Have a Pity Party:
Raising a child with autism won't be an easy journey. In fact, it's going to be bumpy much of the time. Of course, you're going to try to be strong, yet there will be moments when you're going to need to cry, get angry, and be frustrated.
Allow yourself to melt down every once in a while. It's good stress relief. After all, you can't expect to keep it all in and walk around with a smile on your face each and every day.
Remember, you are only human. So give yourself the freedom to experience human emotions. You love your child and you're doing the best you can.
3. Stay Off the Internet as Much as Possible:
It's been said many times that the Internet is the wild west. Sure, it can be a useful resource for many things, but it's also full of crazy opinions, inaccurate information, and tons of speculation on medical issues offered by people who are unqualified to make such declarations on serious topics.
This might come as something of a shock to some, but you can't believe everything you read on the Internet. Gasp, right? Well, it's true. Be very cautious about the websites you visit and don't accept every ounce of info as gospel truth.
And yet, we aren't suggesting that you totally avoid the Internet. It can actually provide a great way to network with other parents of autistic children, allowing you to develop relationships, exchange tips, and encourage each other.
Just don't log on hoping someone is going to offer you a cure.
4. Create a Structured Routine:
Children with autism typically respond well to structure.
You can create structure by having a timed limit to every activity. No matter how big or small. Perhaps you are having a learning activity, or playing a game, attending a birthday party, or shopping for groceries. By setting a specific time to every activity, you are setting an expectation for your child. This is comforting to them. The more you stick to this the better.
This seems to help in cutting down on meltdowns that are familiar to parents of autistic children. Because if they are becoming restless, and are able to understand how much time is left, there's less chance they will become as frustrated as they might if forced to stop in the middle of an activity.
5. Learn to Listen to Them Calmly:
The reality is that it isn't always easy to communicate with an autistic child. It's not unusual at all for both parent and child to become frustrated when there is a want or needs being expressed but not understood.
This is perfectly natural and understandable.
Learning to be a good listener for your child is a tremendous gift to both of you. Try to be patient. Put yourself on your child's level, show them that you see them, that they have your full attention, and that you want to understand so that you can meet their needs.
Be attentive to their words and actions, and keep an open mind. And keep in mind that your child will feed off of whatever emotions you show.
6. Don't Let Autism Define Your Child:
Many times in life it becomes very easy to let labels define the way we live. This is especially true with families of special needs children. Parents hear words like autism, and they tend to immediately start shaping their lives accordingly.
And yet one of the greatest acts of love that you can show any child is to allow them to feel like they are normal. After all, that's exactly what they want. They don't want a spotlight shining down illuminating the fact that they are different.
Your child is just that, a child. Your job as a parent is to meet their needs, but also to help them feel like a special individual rather than simply an individual with special needs.
If you're wanting information on autistic therapy services, you can read more here.
7. Learn to Laugh:
Make no mistake, there are going to be a million challenges. There will be days when it all begins to feel impossible to cope with. You will be exhausted. You'll want to cry. And perhaps on occasion you'll have the desire to run and hide.
Learn to laugh. Life isn't easy for anyone. And laughter is always the best medicine. Even in the darkest of times, letting your children see you laugh shows them that any kind of moment can still contain joy, and laughter has a magical way of letting that joy rise to surface.
The Joys and Trials of Raising a Child with Autism:
Any parent raising a child with autism will tell you that it can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. There is no simple path, and yet the tips in this article can help.
Just remember to keep your head up high, and keep love in your heart, and you and your child will make it through this together.
Click here to see 3 tips for dealing with a rebellious teen.