As a parent you’ve probably spent a great deal of time thinking about the future of your child, especially when it comes to parenting a child with autism spectrum disorder. No parent wants to hear others complain about your child’s behavior. Of course, there’s no rule book when it comes to parenting an autistic child to raise them based on what people think.
However, there are some key points to bear in mind. Beginning with a quick reality check, here are a few tips on raising a child with autism:
Ever participated in a marathon?
Well, do up your shoelaces (not literally) because you’re about to run a marathon of a lifetime.
Raising a child with autism isn’t going to be easy, but it isn’t impossible either. In order for you to help your child, you’ll have to help yourself first.
Wait. Say what? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way round, ‘your child comes first…?’
Whilst that’s true, for you to be able to provide that support for your child, you’re going to need to keep yourself in check. Need a break? Take it. Embrace your sofa and some me time. Read that book that you never got round to starting. Know that it’s okay not to be working all the time, after all, you’re human.
2. Be consistent
Often children with ASD can have a hard time implementing what they’ve learned in a particular setting (for example at school or at the therapists) to others, like at home. That’s why it’s imperative you create consistency in your child’s environment as it’s one of the best ways to reinforce learning. Talk to your child’s therapists and teachers, then bring those techniques home.
Parenting a child with ASD doesn’t have to be difficult. Think of it as an exam. The more you go over something, the more likely you are to remember it. Similarly, the more stability you provide for your child, the easier it’ll become to learn new skills and behaviors.
3. Reward good behavior
When parenting a child with ASD, positive reinforcement can go a long way. Make it a habit to praise them even on the smallest of achievements. They finally put their shoes in the shoe rack after asking them for the 100th time? High five them! Find different ways to reward them, such as giving them a little treat or allowing extra play time. It’s important to be particular about what they’re being rewarded for as it’ll encourage them in the future.
4. Make time for fun.
A child with ASD is still a child. When raising a child with autism it’s important to recognize how much of their time they spend in therapy. Imagine what your life would be like if you never got a day off work…
Actually, let’s not imagine, however the point is it’s necessary to give your child a day off. Figure out things to do that help your child escape their shell. Finding activities that don’t seem educational or therapeutic are more appealing to them and are more likely to help build a connection. For all children, playtime is an essential component of learning and it shouldn’t feel like a task.
5. Take them out everywhere
I’m serious. No matter how exhausted you may be, put your big kid pants on and get out there! Start off with baby steps. Today, it’s a trip to the grocery store. Tomorrow, it’s a trip to the swimming pool and library. This way you’re teaching your child coping skills and helping them get used to the world around them.
Of course, it’s important to know their limits. Let them know beforehand and see how they respond. Don’t be afraid to try new things only then you’ll realize if it’s a hit or miss!
6. Get Support
Raising a child with autism can be extremely challenging and overwhelming. There’s no rule that says you have to do everything on your own. So don’t try to! There are many places you can turn to for advice.
7. ASD support groups
Joining ASD support groups is a great way to meet families going through the same trials as you. It’s a great opportunity for parents to share information and gain emotional support. Knowing that there are other people in the same boat as you provide a sense of relief and reduces the sense of isolation.
8. Respite Care
Everyone needs a break now and then. For parents with the added pressure of parenting a child with an autism spectrum disorder, this is especially true but don’t worry we’ve got this covered. In respite care, a caretaker takes responsibility for your child, allowing you to take a break for a few hours or even weeks. This will allow you to restore your health and re-energize ready to get back to work.
No one ever lost a golden star by asking for help so don’t shy away from it.
Also remember that with your efforts, you will get better at dealing with parenting an autistic child while also relieving yourself of some burden. Be it through yoga, exercise, prayer or whatever floats your boat you will get through this. You can do this!
There are many things you as parents can do to help your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) overcome everyday challenges. But do also remember that it’s important to make sure you get the support YOU need.
When you’re looking after a child with ASD, taking care of yourself is not a luxury or an act of selfishness; it’s a necessity. Being emotionally strong allows you to be the best parent you can be to your child in need. These parenting tips can help by making life with an autistic child easier.
When you will be strong yourself, you will be able to become a better parent for your child with ASD. So begin with the last tip first and kickstart your journey towards a happier family life.