11 Ways to Be a Better Parent of an Autistic Child

Autistic-boy-looking-at-a-river Photo by alexx60yayimages.com

This coming April is National Autism Month.  and so we find it prudent to take the time to cover some important aspects of Autism.

A Brief Overview of Autism 

Autism is a spectrum disorder that makes one develop differently in terms of communicating and forming social skills. Everybody falls on a different spectrum. If you are a parent of an autistic child, then it is understandable that every day is a challenge for you.

It’s a responsibility as a parent to make their child thrives in this world, regardless of any conditions they are born with. Autism is not impossible to deal with and once you learn how to manage it, things can become easier for you and your child.

Here are 11 ways on how you can be a better parent:

Have a Fixed Schedule

Autistic children learn better if they have a schedule fixed for them. A highly structured daily routine is just what they need to do their best. Consistency is something they can easily depend on and thrive towards. A regular set of activities such as school, play time, meals and therapy makes autistic children feel safe and something they are familiar with. It will less likely cause any tantrums or outbursts as well. Avoid any distractions or disruptions in their schedule. Anything out of the routine can make them upset. Inform your child in advance for any changes.  

Be Consistent

Autistic children need consistency in order to learn something. It is difficult for them to apply the skills learned in just one setting.  Your child can do one thing at school such as using sign language but doesn’t think he/she has to do it at home. Consistency is the key to reinforcing learning and acquiring new skills.

Creating consistency for autistic children makes their emotional development smoother and easier to manage. You must make your child practice and apply all the skills learned in different environments and settings in order to expand the learning process. Consistency should not only be done for learning but also the way you interact with your child during good and challenging behavior.  

Have a Special Safe Area at Home

Even though your home is a safe place for your autistic child, there will be some challenging times when your child will feel unsafe. This is why you need to create another safe place within your home where your child goes to relax and not feel pressured or disturbed in any way. It should be a private space where he can calm down and feel secure. Make sure that the area is marked for easy recognition. Whenever your child feels uneasy, he can come whenever possible. Safety-proof your entire house so that no place is dangerous for any outbursts or self-injurious behavior.

Connect with Your Child Non-Verbally

Autistic children might not speak or communicate much but you can still connect with them non-verbally. You can communicate and connect with your child through other cues such as the eyes, hand gestures, the tone of your voice and other signs of facial expressions and body language. It can even include the way you touch her. You can create your own mix of language as long as it helps the both of you stay connected. Pay close attention to your child’s non-verbal cues as well so that you recognize what they need to express.

Have Some Fun Time

Both you and your child need to have some fun time together to strengthen communication and connection. There should be more to life than just coming in and out of therapy sessions and special classes for your child. Find out how both of you can have fun through incorporating your child’s favorite activities or introduce new games or recreational pastime. Play is an important part of children’s learning and development, and autistic children are no different.

Know Your Child’s Triggers

Autistic children respond differently to different things. Some are highly sensitive to certain things that can trigger them such as light, touch, sound, smell or anything that they perceive to be uncomfortable or dangerous. It is essential to know what triggers your child so that you can avoid any challenging or difficult behavior and reaction.

Don’t Confine Your Child

Interacting is quite difficult for many autistic kids but that doesn’t mean that they should be left by themselves most of the time in their room. Take your child outside every day, whether it is to a store, a walk in the park or even in your own backyard. Autistic children are part of the community and must participate in their own way, no matter how different or limited it might be.

It’s Ok to Take a Break

As a parent of a child, a break is not only normal but a must. This is true whether your child has special needs or not. Don’t feel guilty if you want to leave your kid with a babysitter and go have some fun time with your friends or spouse. You take on the daily challenges and struggles every day. It’s only natural that you take out time for yourself so that you are better able to take care of your child later on.

Join a Support Group

Interacting with other parents of autistic children will let your mind at ease and you can learn from one another on how to manage your kids.

Take Care of Yourself

This one can’t be stressed enough. If you can’t take care of yourself, then you won’t be able to care for your kid as well. Create a schedule for your own activities such as gym, classes, spa treatments, movies etc. If your whole day revolves around your child, then you will be more likely to get burnt out and exhausted.  A healthy and happy you can definitely make everything for your child so much better.

Split the Responsibility

Don’t let all the responsibility of taking care of your child rest on you. There can be just one parent who the child connects with more but you got to make them learn that there are two people watching out for them. This is important because if either one of you is busy or sick, you have the other to rely on.