When parents first hear the word Autism in relation to their child, they are often overwhelmed and scared. Many parents turn to reliable sources like Autism Speaks and the HEAL Foundation for help. Both of these organizations are founded on Autism Awareness. The research and services provided help parents, families and friends get all of the information they need to truly understand Autism. Their advice and information is accepted and used by many parent, doctors and teachers.
Another viewpoint of Autism promotes not only understanding Autism, but accepting the diagnosis as a part of the child or person with Autism. Autism Acceptance, also known as Autism Positivity, focuses on the teaching that Autism shouldn’t be viewed or treated as an illness. Autism is simply part of the individual’s personality.
One mother has spent hours composing a list of tips for parents who are raising a child on the Autism spectrum. She has spent thousands of hours learning through trial and error and offers these 11 tips to help create a healthier parent/child relationship:
1. Listen with intention. Try to understand what your child is saying. Don’t think about your reply.
2. Talk to adults who are living with Autism.
3. Communicate with your child’s teachers and offer information you have found helpful in your parenting moments. A helpful resource includes The Autism Discussion Page by Bill Nasson. His compassionate tone and clear writing provides excellent tips, ideas and resources for parents and caregivers.
4. Find ways to implement a reward system. The Token Management Theory is a helpful tool that can help keep both parent and child calm.
5. Look for examples of successful people with Autism. This may take some research but you can find real-life people who are successfully navigating careers with varying degrees of the spectrum. Don’t forget to check out the library for books and other resources.
6. Let your child learn more about successful individuals like Joey Hudy, a child from Dr. Mad Science who enjoys science experiments. Help your child understand there are other people who are like them.
7. Find something your child likes and use that to connect with them. Learn more about their interest and use it as a way to open communication. Check out Ron Suskind, who helped his son use his love for Disney to make connections with the rest of the world.
8. Don’t be afraid to test your child’s comfort level. Encourage them to try new things. Expose them to things that make them uncomfortable.
9. Consider allowing your child to participate in cognitive therapy. One option stems from the work of Dr. Abraham A. Low. His book entitled, Mental Health through Will Training, teaches a system that works for many families.
10. Understand play time. When you fully understand the complicated nature of down-time like interaction, social expression and other milestones, you can help your child at their own pace. Many children with Autism don’t learn by watching other people. When you understand all the ways children learn through play, you can help your child connect through a different channel.
11. Teach your children confidence through narrative psychology. A good read is “This is your Life and how we tell it.” The premise of narrative psychology changes how you look at things. For example, instead of saying “Children with Autism don’t like gym class,” focus on activities they do like. This can encourage your child to participate in and enjoy physical activities. Fight against labels associated with Autism.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt (THE MAN IN THE ARENA) “