Many parents experience a whirlwind of emotions when they first learn their child has been diagnosed with autism. Parents find themselves thrust into a completely different world of parenting; one that requires more energy, communication, and money to help their child live an independent life. Parents often find themselves filling a series of different roles such as caregiver, therapist, teacher, driver, nutritionist, and advocate. The biggest and most important role you as a parent will have for your child is to be their advocate. Advocating for your autistic child will require research, skill, and knowledge that will span a lifetime.
As a parent, here’s a list of things you can do to help your child with autism.
1 – Have your child interact with other children
Having your child participate in the community with other children, joining social groups at parks or organized clubs (baseball, dance, STEM, boy scouts) will set your child up with the skills they need in order to live their best life. Not only that, but it will ultimately help socialize your child and get them acclimated to life outside of home and school. Although it may be a struggle for your child at first, giving them time to participate in leisurely activities and develop hobbies will ultimately help your child navigate their world and form meaningful relationships.
2 – Join a community for you
Finding a network of individuals that share the same interests and experiences when it comes to autism is incredibly important for parents. Joining support groups centered around autism is helpful as it links you up to a network of parents who either have experience parenting their child with autism. This network allows you to share stories, tips, trials, and successes that will be a lifeline for you making invaluable relationships.
3 – Hire an advocate
You are your child’s biggest advocate, but sometimes it’s nice to have the help of an impartial third-party. If you have the funds for it, hiring an advocate to review your child’s school program can help you get a better understanding of the targets, goals and overall program. An advocate can help you determine if these are the best way to meet the needs of you and your child. An advocate will identify areas that may need improvement or provide reassurance that the program is the right fit.
4- Get involved at your child’s school
When possible, volunteer at school functions and join the PTO at your child’s school. You will have the opportunity to participate in the school life of your child, get to know the people at school (children, teachers, administration, and parents), and advocate for inclusion.
5 – Hire a babysitter
Self care is important, and hiring the help of a babysitter familiar with autistic children is such a huge help. All parents need respite. Parents of autistic children are no exception. Schedule regular time off and do what you enjoy: read, garden, go out with friends, date night, eat, exercise…when you have an opportunity to have a night off, take it.
6 – Prioritize the big issues
If it’s finding a sleep schedule, potty-training, or eating, it’s important for parents to first identify the big issues that need tackling and get on with it.This is where ABA therapy can be incredibly helpful. Parents cannot do it alone, so hiring the help of a professional to get your child where they need to be is crucial. Prioritizing the life goals that are most important to your family will guide your child’s development and pave the way to a successful future.
7 – Don’t forget to take care of yourself
Arguably the most important thing a parent can do for their child with autism is to care for themselves. Parents often give their health and well-being a backseat to their child’s care which can have negative consequences in the long-term. Whatever that may look like for you, take care of yourself and remember to do things you enjoy and participate in leisurely activities that add value to your life. Your health is as important as your child’s.
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Caring for a child with autism is a lifelong journey that requires time, energy, and investment, so picking the right care specialist and following a compatible program is essential. Not only is taking care of yourself and your child a huge part of this journey, but so is finding the right program. Take charge of you and your child’s future. Book a free consultation with us here and see how we can help.