“A caregiver might be driving their child to various appointments, advocating for the child’s educational needs, helping their child avoid sensory overload, or dealing with an unexpected tantrum in public. At the end of this long day, they may even be discouraged to find that their child is unable to sleep, keeping the caregiver from getting the rest they need.” – Kathleen Smith, LPC.
Today, some parents continue to struggle with their children who have autism. In the United States, one in every 59 children is identified to have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This number might be the minority, but it is a concern for several families. To care for a child with this condition is one challenging and exhausting task. But it is possible to ease this struggle for your family. Here are seven ways to help you address autism in the family.
Give Yourself A Better Understanding Of Autism
In most cases, the best way to work out a problem or concern is through understanding. The more aware you are of autism, the better equipped you become in handling it. It helps you come up with the best decisions for your child’s development. Several websites have forums or articles that talk about autism. You can also try asking experts or friends who are in a similar situation. If you wish to help your child further, you can research the available treatment options.
According to Ted Hutman, a licensed clinical psychologist, “The more you know about autism spectrum disorder, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed decisions for your child. Educate yourself about the treatment options, ask questions, and participate in all treatment decisions.”
You Are Not Alone
Never feel embarrassed to reach out to others. Whether it is a distant relative or a medical professional, someone can always help. Remember that you cannot do everything alone and it is okay. You won’t be able to care for someone if you cannot even take care of yourself. Give time for breaks such as a walk in the park or watching movies. Exhausting yourself too much won’t do you and your child any good.
“When working with clients on the Spectrum,” says John Cutrone, LMHC, “therapy focuses on social skills, life skills, communication skills, peer and personal relations, family relationships, career goals, anxiety, depression and anger management.”
Get Involved With The Autism Community
There are several ASD-involved support groups and communities. If you need someone to open to, try joining them. They are the ones who share the same experiences the most. You can gain information and guidance from them. They can also offer you insights on the best services or treatments. Aside from this, they can give a sense of emotional relief.
Acceptance Is Key
Autism has significant impacts on each member of the family. Even though some of them are under constant emotional and social strain, other members provide the emotional support needed by the family. Here is an overview to give you a better grasp of the impacts:
- Parents – Shock, grief, and sadness are the most common feelings from the moment of diagnosis. They often adjust their daily routines to accommodate their child best. This challenging task usually affects most of their professional life.
- Siblings – In some interviews, embarrassment was common among siblings. It often leads to the isolation and bullying of their sibling with ASD. In other interviews, older children said otherwise. They mentioned they accept their sibling’s autism. They know that it is a part of who they are. It gives a more positive impact on their sibling as they take the initiative to play with them and introduce them to others.
- Grandparents – They are the ones who offer the most support. Grandparents become very understanding of the situation of both the parents and child. They provide parents with empathy and children with encouragement.
Autism does affect a family in several ways. Their initial reaction can often lead to invalidating actions such as isolation and neglect. But it was never their choice to end up like that. By accepting them, you instead give them a feeling of belonging and comfort.
Plan A Retreat
No, this is not to tell you to escape your current situation. Most people with autism are highly sensitive to their environments. Cities consist of stressful surroundings which can easily overload your senses. The noise from the cars, the lights of the buildings, and the polluted air are overwhelming. They can trigger stress and discomfort for them. Try going on a vacation outside of the city because it can offer a calm environment with little pollution.
Change Your Perspective
People often think of autism as a problem. It is certainly not the case. Autism is a disability that challenges an individual. Making interactions, speaking confidently, and nervous thoughts and behaviors are constant torments. We all need to change our perspective of this condition. We can instead serve as support and guide for them. All they need is a push to help them cope with their circumstance.
Provide Their Essential Needs
If you can provide them with their essential needs, you can bring out the best in them. You can make them feel like they are living a normal life. Your support will give them a sense of belonging and comfort. Provide them the education, shelter, food, medicine, and clothing everyone gets. Do not make them feel any different. Instead, assure them in words and actions that they are within reach like everyone else.
These are some things to help you handle your child’s autism better. Remember that even though it becomes exhausting and demanding for you, it is always more challenging for them. Do your best to support and push them forward.