If your child has been diagnosed with autism, you know very well the myriad of emotions that one goes through. This is irrespective of whether you’ve had experience with autism before or not.
I worried and still worry about the life my son will have, and how society will treat him. I used to even worry about what people will say. I’ve learned a few things I think you probably need to know.
1. Your Autistic Child is Still a Child
I obsessed and sometimes still obsess so much about helping my son that I forget he’s still a kid. I’ve learned, however, that even though my son is different and needs extra attention, he is still a child.
Your child wants to connect and play with you as well as sometimes on their own or with friends. Playtime doesn’t always need to be therapy-based.
You might be surprised to find that it’s through free play you get to learn their interests.
2. Your Child Will Always Be Autistic
When I heard that autism is a lifelong condition with no cure, I was shocked. I spent a lot of time and money looking for treatments for my son.
Despite the many treatments peddled, autism has no cure because it is not a disease.
I’ve come to believe that understanding and appreciating your child is more important. Listen to them, love them as they are, get them the right services, and cultivate their interests so they can live fulfilling lives.
3. Always Remember, It’s About Your Child
It’s natural to mourn the life that you could have had with our child. I did. Your life may be changing in ways you never expected, but try to remember that you have a child who is navigating life as an autistic individual. They need your support, understanding, and appreciation.
I’ve accepted that I need to get rid of my expectations of who I think my son should be and help him be who he’s meant to and wants to be.
4. You Are Your Child’s Number One Advocate
When your child gets an autism diagnosis, the fight for services and supports they need begins.
Autistic people face a lot of stigmas and discrimination due to ignorance and lack of understanding. This means that they are often denied services and supports they need.
I’ve come to find out that it’s up to you, the parent, to ensure your child gets these.
If you don’t speak up for your child, who will?
5. Do Not Settle for Just Any Therapist
Since Autism is a spectrum, there is no one-shoe-fits-all therapy and intervention for autistic individuals.
Some therapists, however, insist on using the same interventions they used for one child to help another.
They will even ignore your input as well as your child’s unique needs, which I have experienced several times.
Look for a professional who is willing to work with you, listen to you, and consider your child’s needs and wants.
6. Autistic Voices Are Important
Figuring out what your child is going through or needs, especially if they are non-verbal can be difficult.
Autistic people, even though different from one another, have common experiences on what life is like from an autistic perspective.
They can help you understand your child better, and know how to connect with them. I seek them out if I need help with play activities, meltdowns, and sensory issues.
7. Self-care is Crucial
For you to be the parent that your child needs, you have to take care of yourself.
Yes, your child may need you more than a typical child would, but you need to take some time for yourself. I go to the movies, shopping, dancing or just hanging out with my girls.
You might be pleasantly surprised to find out that taking a break is good for both you and your child.
Autism changes many families, and it may be for better or for worse depending on how you approach it. Think about this, wouldn’t you want your child to look back on their childhood and say they had a great one?