Daily life with a child who has autism can be different and has its own unique challenges. Experiencing a range of emotions is normal, and you should not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Taking care of yourself is an important part of caring for your child. Here are 10 simple strategies, tips, and reminders to keep in mind every day:
1. Speak up for your child.
If you feel like something is wrong, don’t stay quiet. Ask questions. Trust your gut. Fight for what is right for your child so they have what they need to succeed in all aspects of their lives, whether at school, at home, or elsewhere.
2. Set a routine and structure for the day.
Make a daily routine - wake up at the same time each day, eat around the same times, and stay on schedule. If you’re going to an event, provide a specific time for how long you will be there so everyone is on the same page and expectations can be managed.
3. Be flexible.
While schedules are important, don’t forget to leave room for flexibility. When unexpected circumstances come up, roll with it and keep moving.
4. Let your child find ways to handle their own problems.
Recognize when your child needs a break, and allow them to self-soothe. Both your child and you should have strategies for how to calm down or deal with unexpected issues as they arise. Give them time to solve a problem on their own and get a little frustrated with it. If they need help, they will ask for it.
5. Stay calm and listen.
Take a deep breath when you feel yourself losing control. Keep an open mind in all situations. Help your child talk about what they’re feeling and try to project a sense of calm and understanding.
6. Know that your child is not their autism.
Don’t let a diagnosis define your child. Your kid is the same person they were before the word “autism” entered your life. Remember that life can be funny - it’s okay to laugh at some of the situations you’ll face. Love your child for who they are and the unique way they see the world we share.
7. Ask for help.
There is no need to do this on your own. Find a support system you can trust and talk to, and be sure take a break when you need one. Know your limits and step away before it’s too much.
8. Listen to others, but trust your own opinions.
It doesn’t matter what other people think of your child. You know what’s best for them, and you know one meltdown in public doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. Listen to the advice of others, but take it with a grain of salt.
9. Take advantage of available resources.
There is a great network of people and organizations that can help you understand autism more in depth, and who can be there to listen, to support, and to help when things get tough. You can learn so much, and there is always more information to read about what autism is, how it happens, how to treat it, and how to cope.
10. Make mistakes.
No one is perfect. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself or your child - neither of you have done anything wrong, and you’re doing the best you can. Allow yourself to mess up and learn from it.
Autism Speaks. Autism & Your Family. Retrieved from https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/autism-your-family
Finding Cooper’s Voice. (2017). 9 Big Mistakes Parents of Autistic Kids Can Avoid - Finding Cooper’s Voice. Retrieved from https://www.findingcoopersvoice.com/2017/01/12/9-big-mistakes-parents-of-autistic-kids-can-avoid/