Autism, or Autistic Spectrum Disorder, refers to a range of developmental conditions that affect how an individual perceives the world and interacts with others.
To learn more about Autism click here.
For parents of children with Autism, overcoming the challenges of the everyday world can be a difficult task.
While living with a child diagnosed with ASD means something different for each family, there are a variety of ways in which to tailor your parenting to your child’s unique situation.
Listed below are 5 simple tips to help you raise your child in a safe and loving environment.
1. Read, Read and Read Some More:
The more information you can find out about your child’s condition, the better equipped you will be as a parent to navigate your way through the tasks of everyday life.
From researching the different treatments available, to reading blogs from parents in similar situations to your own, we live in a world that is better informed about Autism than ever before.
Remember to step away from the textbooks and the computer sometimes too – not every piece of advice on the web is going to be right for your family.
Instead, keep an open mind and don’t be afraid if any ‘miracle solutions’ don’t quite explain your child’s behavior.
2. Provide Structure and Safety for Your Child:
Children living with Autism often thrive within an organized environment. To make daily home life easier for you and your child, be consistent.
Adapt their living environment to ensure you are consistent in the way you interact with your child and how, as a family, you deal with any challenging behaviors.
Stick to a schedule with regular times for meals, any therapy sessions, preschool and bedtimes. Try to aim to keep disruptions to this routine to a minimum and prepare your child for any unavoidable changes in advance.
Why not provide a private space at home where your child can feel secure, relax and play safely? Safety proof an area of the house by using visual cues such as colored tape, cushions or blankets that can provide a haven during any tantrums or dangerous behaviors.
3. Monitor Your Child’s Internet Use:
The Internet is an amazing resource for children with Autism to play, learn, create and connect, all at the click of a button.
Children with Autism however often have less developed social skills and can be honest and candid when confronted with the personal questions often encountered on social media sites for instance. It is therefore crucial to establish boundaries even at this early age.
Start by installing parental controls on your home broadband – you can even create a user account for your child on the family computer or other devices that only allows access to sites you have approved.
Provide your child with a list of ways to safely respond to online questions and keep this close to the computer to refer to if needed.
Bonus Tip: Living with a child with Autism can sometimes feel isolating. Use, social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to chat with likeminded parents and carers in online groups.
4. Find Positive Ways to Connect With Your Child:
To best connect with your child, it is essential that you listen to what they are saying in order to talk about their interests.
Focus the conversation towards things that your child enjoys and incorporate these likes into activities that can boost their learning.
To read more about fun, sensory activities for children with Autism, click here.
Pay close attention to any nonverbal cues your child uses in order to communicate. Children with Autism express tiredness, hunger and many other needs through sounds, facial expressions and gestures.
Encourage your child to see the world as a fun and happy place – find activities that make them smile and laugh in an unpressured environment. This time spent together can help your preschooler come out of their shell.
5. Pace Yourself:
Raising a child is a long, challenging and rewarding journey. Make sure to know when to take a break – whether it’s a trip to the gym or catching up on your favorite TV shows, it’s important to take time to look after yourself in order to be able to best care for a child with Autism.
Accepting early on that not everyone is going to understand the challenges that parents raising children with Autism face is an important lesson but that’s not to say that friends and family can’t be educated along the way.
Listen to those with similar experiences and situations to your own but don’t be afraid to tailor any well-intentioned advice to suit the needs of your own family.
Children with Autism do grow up to lead independent lives while finding success in careers and relationships. Be patient and know that your parenting is worth the time and effort.
Do you have any parenting tips for families raising children with Autism? Let us know in the comments below.