No one chooses to join the autism club. When you find yourself there as a parent, all you need to do is be strong for your child. Parenting a child with autism is not easy – especially if the child was just diagnosed. However, it gets easier with time; you learn what works for them and what does not.
You will hear a lot of unwarranted advice, and you will read a lot of tips and commandments on raising an autistic child; at the end, seeing that your child is unique, you will have to find what works for them and stick to it. Nevertheless, there are general tips that you can observe below.
You need to make it easier for your child to thrive. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD, have a challenge applying whatever they learn at school or home. As a parent, therefore, you need to be consistent and never give up. You child might use sign language successfully at school but fail to do so at home. By being consistent, whatever your child learns at school or the therapist’s office will stick.
You also need to create and follow a schedule. When parenting a child with autism, schedules are structures you cannot belittle. Your child’s brain does not process information the way healthy children’s brain does – as such; they need a routine. Lastly, ensure you reward good behavior and ensure the child is always safe at home and school.
Parenting a Child with Autism Requires You to Connect with them
Connecting and communicating with an autistic child can be challenging – children with ASD talk less. For you to connect with your child, you do not have to speak. You need to observe them identify when they need something and provide it. You need to learn what stimulates their disruptive behavior, which makes them happy and learn their language.
You can connect with your child through the way you look at them, the tone of your voice, or even through your body language. Be keen for nonverbal cues, make time for play, and always be eager for sensory sensitivities such as light, pain, and loud noise.
Tailor a Treatment Plan for Your Child
There are many treatment plans. When parenting a child with autism, a good than is one that meets the needs of your child. You need to consider your child’s interests, schedule, learning abilities, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses, and anything else that involves your child.
A good treatment plan is one that will build on the interests and strengths of your child, one that engages their attention and one that will reinforce good behavior. Again, ensure that the treatment plan involves you as a parent.
Help your Child Sleep Better
Children with ASD have trouble sleeping at night – their body does not have a structured circadian rhythm like ours do. As a parent, you must help the child sleep better at night.
One way to do that is to get rid of sensory sensitivities such as light and loud noises. You also need to create a bedtime routine with bedtime activities such as bedtime stories or light massage. You should also get your child a weighted blanket that hugs them all night long for a calming effect. If your child has trouble sleeping because of teeth grinding (teeth grinding is also another common problem among kids with ASD), get then a custom teeth guard.
Seek Help, See a Therapist
Before you burn out, find help from a therapist. There are days you will feel overwhelmed and stressed. Raising a child is no mean feat – parenting a child with autism is even more challenging. Ergo, you need to seek help from a therapist, from ASD support groups, and sometimes in respite care.
You need to take care of yourself, as a parent, and this means sometimes taking a break. Let the spouse help you for a day or two.