Being an Autism parent is overwhelming. I think anyone who’s parenting a child with Autism would likely agree with that statement. What I think we can sometimes forget is that Autism can be overwhelming to anyone, including family and friends.
I truly believe that most family and friends want to be supportive, but don’t know how. There are also very unsupportive or unhealthy dynamics between family and friends, but let’s focus on the positive.
My thoughts at this point, center around helping family and friends discover ways that they can be more supportive, by sharing some ideas that can make a difference.
Pick up the phone
The easiest thing that someone can do to help an Autism parent is very simple and doesn’t cost a penny. All you have to do is pick up the phone, and reach out.
I can speak from personal experience, that on my worst days, receiving a phone call from someone, asking how I’m doing, can make all the difference in the world.
As Autism parents, we spend so much time and energy on our kids, we often neglect ourselves in the process. We can also find ourselves feeling very isolated or alone. Having someone take the time out of their day to see how I’m doing with everything, makes a big difference. It helps me feel connected, comforted and not forgotten.
Just pick up the phone and place a call… It can sometimes be the difference between giving up and finding the strength to keep moving forward.
Schedule a visit
As Autism parents, we probably don’t get many visitors and having adult conversations with anyone other than a doctor or therapist is a rarity, at least in my experience.
Perhaps you could schedule a time to go over and hang out.
I definitely recommend scheduling it because as much as a visit can help, a surprise visit might make things worse. We sometimes have to prepare our kids for someone entering into the house. Even well intentioned, unannounced visits can end up being extremely disruptive.
Please schedule any visits.
Something else that you can do is offer to bring over dinner. This can be such a positive thing because it can give an Autism parent some breathing room.
At the same time, this is only a positive thing if done the correct way.
Many, if not most kids with Autism, are very sensory oriented. In layman’s terms, this can mean they will only eat certain things, under certain conditions.
Before doing something like this, it would be best if you called and found out what kind of dinner to bring, prior to doing so. This ensures that your kind gesture can have the positive impact you are intending it to have.
Help out around the house
With all the added responsibilities associated with being an Autism parent, many things get put on the back burner out of necessity. Contrary to what some may think, Autism parents aren’t lazy, we’re exhausted. As a result, we have to prioritize, and chores around the house or yard don’t always make the cut.
Offering to come by and lend a hand, could be a really positive thing.
You could offer to help with laundry, dishes, repairs to the house or even some yard work.
While we often can’t keep up with everything, and seemingly let it go, oftentimes it weighs heavy on our minds. Having some extra help could be just what the doctor ordered.
This may sound simple, but if you can’t figure out a way to help, why not ask. Maybe the above suggestions don’t fit your situation. That’s totally fine. Perhaps the best approach is to simply ask how you can help.
While this seems simple, it’s the most complicated and challenging approach because many Autism parents will hesitate to answer that question and instead reply with thank you, but we’re fine.
This isn’t because we don’t need help, but rather because we don’t want to be a burden.
You may have to be persistent and patient, but don’t pressure too much. Again, the simple fact that you care enough to ask in the first place, may be all they need.