06 September 2012

How do I parent an autistic child?

20 Ways to parent an autistic person.

How do I do it? The truth is, I wing it, every day. It's not all that complicated really.

First and foremost I focus on the positives. I choose not to live in a place of self-pity, because I don't believe I have anything to feel sad about. I do think he chose the right parent, because he has strengths where I have weaknesses (e.g.: he is more assertive than me), and I have strength where he has need for support (e.g.: I have better organisational skills). I face each situation and adapt the solution to whatever the problem is in that moment. There are probably many other things I do, but below are the top 20 principles I try to live by.

1. I love him, always and unconditionally. He is so loved he gets annoyed with me! :D

2. I accept him, all that he is, both inspiring and challenging, because acceptance allows me to work with the challenges instead of wasting energy fighting them.

3. I support him - in all that he needs to do, all that he wants to be.

4. I choose to be proud of who he is. He inspires me every day, and I tell him about it - I have also taught him to be proud of who he is.

5. I am honest and realistic with him.  The world is a difficult place for him, so I am training him to be able to survive in that world.

6. I advocate for him. Every day I stand up for his rights and try to shift the negative view of autism into one where his strengths are embraced instead.

7. I give him structure and predictability. These things allow him to cope with the more difficult parts of his day.

8. I provide him with opportunities to succeed. If I don't let him try, I'll never know if he can do it.

9. I encourage him in all things - he has been taught to never, ever give up.

10. I place no limits on his abilities. He amazes me every day, why would I assume there is something he can't do?

11. I constantly expand his comfort zone. He tends to be very anxious, so I regularly push him to try new experiences.

12. I ask him questions - I don't assume I know what he is thinking or experiencing at any given moment. Even if I think I've got a situation worked out, I will check in with him to be sure I am on the right track. This requires me to always remember my humility.

13. I protect him. I don't bend to the will of others when they judge and tell me/him that we "should" be doing something differently. We do things the way they work for us.

14. I listen to him. 'Nuff said.

15. I let common sense prevail. If the simplest answer feels like the right one, that's the one we use.

16. I protect his right to have what he needs - such as hand flapping or recovery time alone.

17. I adapt where needed. He is often unable to adapt, so forcing him to do so is counter productive - in which case I see adapting to be my responsibility.

18. I back down when he needs me to. Just because I'm in charge doesn't mean I have to win every situation. And besides, is a win really a win, when it means my child suffers or the situation worsens?

19. I teach him resilience and coping skills. As much as it would be nice for the world to adapt around him, currently they do not, and there are a lot of rude neurotypicals out there. I teach him how to hold his head high in the face of their ignorance.

20. Most importantly - I laugh with him all the time. We have a life filled with giggles and joy, and we face the tough moments together, always looking to find a way to laugh off the stress.

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