*This post is for information purposes only.
As parents, we worry about our children. This intensifies when your child is autistic because you are suddenly faced with a lot of challenges and sometimes do not know what to do, not sure what to tackle first or are just exhausted. You can sometimes feel like you are going on a downward spiral without taking notice of the positives of parenting a child who is on the autism spectrum.
Parenting is both hard work and rewarding at the same time. I want to share a few things that have helped me:
Keep a diary
I have found it handy to record notes on what has worked well for my son and what he has been struggling with. I keep a record of both social activities and academic learning that he has participated in. Going out to a new place, attending an event, joining a social club, Science and Art projects outside of school. I find it easier to write down things as I am continually multi-tasking, so may forget some detail of what has happened during the week.
Back-up documents and reports
I find it useful to back-up paperwork just in case it gets lost. Make a copy of the reports and have more than one place to store this information (cabinet/e-mail/computer/USB/family member’s house…etc) I also keep my son’s reports in chronological order. If you have e-mailed any professionals or organisations, do not delete the e-mails. Create folders in your e-mail application and store them.
Get to know what’s available
Check out the local council website and look at their local offer. You can also sign up to e-newsletters to keep up to date on what’s going on in your area. Get to know your local Special Needs Action Panel (independent parent carer forum) and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service.
Training and Workshops
Attending local workshops and going on training courses help you understand more about autism and gives you strategies to use to help your child. It is also helpful attending the workshops as there will be other parents there, so you don’t feel like you are on your own.
I feel that you can have an emotional connection with a child on the autism spectrum because, at the end of the day, they are still your child. There is always that maternal/paternal connection. It is really down to an individual’s perception of what a child-parent relationship is.
My son loves art, so at the end of the week, we work together on his creations to have that mother-son bond. I sit beside him and encourage him to take control of what’s going on. He will ask me to cut something out or pass the felt tips to him or print something off. It doesn’t matter, it’s a starting point of working together and gives us a way to build that relationship. I then comment on what he is doing as he is creating, and then we start a conversation and build on from there.
Looking back to when he was younger, it was disheartening that he didn’t give me that child to mother emotional response that I was expecting. Over time you learn that every child reacts differently and learn to adapt your parenting style and find your own way to have that emotional connection with your child.
It is essential to encourage my son to have his say in the decision making for his future. After all, it is his life, and I am here to help guide him. If the person struggles with comprehension, then just adapt how you communicate to them using visuals, concrete language, or whatever works best with their learning style.
Get to know the teachers
It is essential to build a relationship with the teachers in the school that your child attends. This comes with communicating with the teachers and working together to move things forward. Get to know the teachers who work with your child and keep up to date with information on school events or any changes happening with the school.
We all have ups and downs
In life we don’t always move forward, we sometimes go back then move forwards. Same for our children. Some days one approach you use will work and other days it may not. There are so many factors that can contribute to this. Try not to feel guilty or dwell on it too much. I have planned days out that have gone great and others that have been complete failures. It is only through trying that you can figure out if something is or isn’t right for your child. It’s ok, don’t blame yourself.
Need I say more? As parents, we need some time to relax and have fun. I have to admit that I am always thinking and planning ahead. We are too busy acting all serious all the time being adults that we sometimes forget who we are and what makes us happy. Make time to do something that you love.
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