It can be hard to take in when you learn that your child has autism and every parent will react differently to the news. No matter how you react, it is important that you know that you will be able to make a big difference to your child’s life and there are many ways that you can do this. There is no doubt that you will have thousands of questions and have many concerns and the answers to these will depend on many different factors, mainly where your child is on the spectrum. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can help your child to thrive and have a happy home life.
The very first step to take will be to educate yourself about autism, and there is a tremendous amount to learn. It can be hard to know where to begin, and there is certainly a lot of incorrect information out there so only pay attention to reputable sources and speak to healthcare professionals.
Pay Close Attention To Your Child
Every parent needs to pay close attention to their child when they are young but especially if they have been diagnosed with autism. Try to figure out what affects your child both positively and negatively so that you can create the right environment at home for them. Importantly, make sure that you accept your child’s differences, provide unconditional love and avoid comparing them to others.
Children with autism are eligible for a number of low-cost and free services under the federal (IDEA). This includes medical evaluations, speech therapy, physical therapy, parent counseling, assisted technology devices and a number of other services. You should absolutely take advantage of this federal law as it could make a huge difference to your child and the happiness of the entire family.
It is very easy to constantly worry and picture the worst-case scenarios, but this is not helpful as it is impossible to predict what the future holds. As with any child, a child with autism has their entire life to grow, change and develop so try to remain positive and provide the best possible environment at home for the family.
Structure & Safety
Following on from this, you need to make sure that structure, consistency, and safety are key factors in your home. People with autism thrive on routines so they will need consistent guidance and interaction which will allow them to practice what they are learning in therapy – you should speak to their therapist so that consistency can be achieved in therapy, at home, and in school.
One of the biggest challenges for parents is trying to as people with autism have difficulties in communication and socializing. This means that you can find nonverbal ways to connect with your child, including scheduled playtime, body language, facial expressions and taking them along for everyday activities. The latter can be challenging as there may be triggers that are out of your control, but it can also be helpful to expose them to situations to help them get used to the world around them. Many parents find that one of the most effective ways to bond with their child with autism is to play on the floor with them as this does not require eye-contact or socialization which they could find distressing.
Obviously, you will want the best possible assistance for your child so that they can lead a happy life and develop coping strategies to help with difficulties that they may. have. Every child is different which means that an individualized plan is the best solution. Specialists like can work in conjunction with your current team of healthcare professionals to develop a highly personalized plan based on scientific models, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and your individual goals.
Finding mechanisms to work things through with your child can be a long and slow process, so you need to be patient. You should be in regular communication with the team supporting your child and regularly checking to see if there is anything that you could be doing to help your child. Do not become discouraged if there are setbacks or there are certain methods that they do not respond well to.
Involvement At School
School will at times, be a challenging environment for your child but also somewhere that can help them greatly in numerous ways. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) can be drafted to outline your child’s educational goals for the year, and this can be done after the local school system evaluates your child. You can be involved in developing this plan, and it is recommended that you stay in close contact with the school and become involved where possible (attending PTA meetings, volunteering at events, etc.
Find A Support Group
Raising a child with autism can sometimes throw up unpredictable challenges, which can take its toll. It is for this reason why it is important to find a support group so that you are able to vent and find support from those that are going through similar challenges. Many parents find it immensely helpful to develop friendships with other parents that have a child with autism so that they can provide both help and support.
Look After Yourself
Following on from this, you must also make sure that you are . Although it can be challenging, you need to find time to socialize with friends, relax, exercise and eat a healthy diet. This will allow you to be the best possible parent that you can be, so make sure that you are making time for yourself.
Raising a child with autism is a journey you will take together, and there are sure to be difficult days, but it can also be incredibly rewarding when you begin to see strategies working. These are a few basic tips for parents raising a child with autism, but the main advice is to carefully listen to your healthcare team, to provide constant support for your child and to be the best possible parent you can be.