If you are the parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), then you understand how different life is and just how difficult it can be at times. You surely love your kid to pieces, but things aren’t always smooth sailing due to the challenges posed by autism.
Should anything go wrong, it often disrupts your child’s whole day. Anything like getting inadequate sleep to feeling misunderstood can have a profound effect.
Each situation is a little different, but a few common strategies help parent most children with ASD. You should take advantage of them to improve both your child’s and your quality of life.
To get you started, we’ll point out a few helpful tips for managing autism to help you and your child thrive!
Prioritize a Routine
First, you can start by prioritizing a daily routine.
One of the most important things for a child with autism is to have a dependable routine. This makes their life more predictable, which adds stability and familiarity.
Daily life can be extremely overwhelming for your child. They are easily stimulated and agitated by their environment, which is only made worse by unpredictability.
When your child has a routine to stick to, they’ll know what to expect from their day. They become comfortable following the same steps each day because they know that they’re safe.
With a good routine in place, life should become much more stable. There should be fewer highs and lows with a mellow medium instead.
One thing that’s important to keep in mind is that you must not deviate from the routine. Children with autism get particularly attached to their routines and hate straying from them.
Add structure to your child’s day and ensure that important activities like eating and bathing always happen at the same time.
Experience New Environments
You must also make a point to experience new environments with your child.
While new experiences are certainly shocking to a child with autism, this shock is necessary to help them learn how to handle unfamiliarity.
We mentioned above that a routine is important, but so too is adding variety. It’s okay to do many similar things each day, but never trying anything new will also hurt your child.
As difficult as it may be, you must try to take your child to new environments. Whether that’s just to the grocery store, laundromat, or post office, it’s progress that will add up over time with continuous effort.
While your kid might not enjoy doing this, it’s an important step toward self-sufficiency. When they’re equipped to handle the unexpected, they’ll be much more capable on their own.
Use Positive Feedback
One of the greatest tips is to use positive feedback when interacting with your kid.
There are many approaches to parenting and what’s “correct” is subjective. When it comes to a child with ASD, however, you must be careful about how you approach them.
Your child is very sensitive and how you respond to their behavior can significantly impact their openness to feedback going forward, your relationship, and how they view the outer world.
With this in mind, you should aim for positive reinforcement. This means rewarding good behaviors and providing affirmations about exactly what they did right.
What you should not do is punish your child. Avoid yelling at or shaming them. You must keep your emotions in check and stop yourself from lashing out.
Your kid will certainly make mistakes, but they’re only human and they’re still learning. Provide incentives and rewards for good behavior and you’ll be delighted at how motivated they are to work toward them.
Remember to Care for Yourself
Finally, you should remember to care for yourself.
It’s okay to feel exhausted, lost, angry, upset, confused, overburdened, or disappointed. You didn’t ask for this situation, but you still need to rise to the occasion. Caring for a child with ASD is a lot to manage for anyone.
That said, it is still your responsibility as a parent and you do all you can to give them the best life possible. While doing this, you can’t neglect yourself. Considering this, there are three important things to remember.
First, don’t fall behind on self-care. Save time each day to fully attend to your beauty needs and desires. Make sure you allow time for relaxation and decompression.
Second, lean on the support of others. Many other parents of children with ASD are involved in support groups that you can also join. Speaking to and being near other parents in the same situation as you can provide a different perspective and wisdom.
Lastly, understand that you are not to blame for your situation! It’s natural to feel guilty, but you do not deserve to feel this way. You’re doing the best you can and that’s all anyone can ask for.
Your child certainly comes first, but you also matter.
Children with ASD experience life very differently from other kids. Their life is scary, confusing, and often too much to handle at times. This is where your responsibility as a parent comes into play.
Leading your child through life is not always easy, but you can use a few strategies to help yourself. This includes prioritizing a daily routine, experiencing new environments, using positive feedback, and remembering to care for yourself.
Take things one day at a time and know that you can do this. Your child depends on you and deserves the best!
This is a contributed post and therefore may not reflect the views and opinions of this blog or its author.
Beautifully written article that would benefit every parent of a newly diagnosed autistic child and also for parents already raising an autistic loved one