Having your child diagnosed with autism can be one of the most frightening and heart-wrenching experiences for parents. No parent is ever prepared for the challenges and limitations autism presents in a child’s upbringing. The most confusing part is the conflicting advice parents receive from friends and family.
The first and foremost thing to remember at such a crucial time is that several resources and support systems are available for your help and guidance every step of the way. Let’s look at some resourceful ways to tailor your parenting to your child’s unique condition.
Learn about autism
Parents need to understand that even though autism is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by social, communication, and behavioral disorders, it can be managed and controlled.
The exact cause of autism is still unidentified; however, researchers believe it to be linked to genetics and environmental factors. To understand what ASD means for your child, learn as much as possible about autism spectrum disorder through websites, journals, and relevant books.
Autism has no physical effects, and the symptoms can vary from child to child. Research your available treatment options and definitely get an expert’s advice.
Avoid excessive information
While knowing about your child’s condition is important, excessive informaion can leave you overwhelmed and stressed out. You will find a lot of misinformation on the websites regarding your child’s diagnosis, so always resort to authentic websites, papers, and medical advice.
Learn about your child’s triggers
Knowing what triggers your child’s disruptive behavior or meltdowns is essential. It will help you spot the physical signs and act accordingly. Learn what provokes a positive response in your child to build on their strengths and promote positive behavior.
Avoid situations that get your child stressed, tensed, scared, overstimulated, or uncomfortable. Autistic children are introverts, so you have to make sure that you understand their needs and provide solutions to calm them down.
Focus on healthy creative ways to deal with their issues and love them even at their worst.
Observe, observe, observe
Observe your child’s non-verbal cues, signs, or actions that you often find them using while communicating to you. Pay attention to their sounds, hand movements, gestures, and facial expressions to know if your child is hungry, distressed, or wants to be left alone.
Utilize online resources and programs
With the prevailing ASD diagnosis, non-profit organizations and government sources are also increasing their commitment to guiding the parents of special children. Most of these organizations have tons of information regarding autism, signs, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options, which can be a good source of information for parents of newly diagnosed autistic children.
You can also find sources of reliable support groups within your state. Several non-profit organizations are collaborating with ASD advocacy groups to provide more resources and implement policies for the needs of special children.
Use educational apps
Educational applications and games are very important for developing social, communication, and learning skills in children with an autism spectrum disorder.
With mobile and internet technology, autism awareness, online resources, and treatment opportunities have seen tremendous growth. There are several games that can be both educational and fun for your child on the spectrum.
One of the most famous applications, Coco, is known for having twenty educational games that help children with attention span and memory.
Socialize with similar parents
For new parents, the most creative way to get information on autism is from the parents in the same shoes as you. Talking to them will help you gain insights, tips, and therapists’ recommendations for your child’s treatment and interventions.
Being a parent to an autistic child can make you feel isolated and lonely, though, by joining support groups, you will find out that there are plenty of people having the same experiences who understand you and are more than willing to help you.
Maintain structure and routine
Your autistic child craves structure, routines, and consistency, and anything other than that can get them stressed and anxious. Following a schedule will help your child on the spectrum thrive, feel safe and perform much better in familiar surroundings. Organize your child’s day for meals, therapy, homework, playtime, and bedtime, and watch how well your child performs.
Avoid sensory stimulation
To avoid tantrums and outbursts, avoid lights, sounds, touch, tastes, and smells that trigger your child’s anxiety and stress. By paying attention to sensory processing issues, you can minimize their behavioral disorders and help them be on their best behavior.
Some children with autism are either hyposensitive or under-sensitive, which influences sensory-seeking behaviors. Allow such children to touch or feel anything to feel relaxed and stimulated.
Getting caught up with children and work while being unaware of your own needs is part of parenting. However, this is your reminder to stop ignoring your physical, emotional, and psychological needs and take that self-care break that you have been putting off for so long.
Include little things you enjoy doing in a day to your hectic schedule, like, yoga, meditation, reading, swimming, or walking. Take 40 minutes out to do whatever you feel like doing in a day to feel fulfilled and accomplished.
Taking time off to be by yourself can help you recharge and align your goals with your actions in life.
Parenting a child on the spectrum has its challenges, but as your child grows and you start finding out their strengths, you will be surprised at how far you both have come. Don’t let your child’s slow progress overwhelm you and get you depressed-take a break, breath, and stay strong.
While fulfilling your therapy duties to your autistic child, please don’t ignore your need for personal space and boundaries and know that as hard as you are working, so is your child, so take it easy and trust the process.