How to Be a Parent to an Autistic Child

27 Oct, 2020

How to Be a Parent to an Autistic Child

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No family is prepared to hear that a child is diagnosed with autism. Shocked, frightened, and filled with disbelief, parents often feel completely lost, having no idea what to do, how to help their kid, and how to live that “ new normal”. The truth is, being a parent to an autistic child with ASD is not an easy job, all the more so, coping with this lifelong condition requires a lot of knowledge, patience, and commitment. 

Parenting an autistic child – Suggestions to help you be successful

autistic child
Reading the symptoms of autism can happen fairly early

Photo by Caleb Woods

It is okay to be deeply concerned if you’ve just recently learned that your son or daughter has autism or started to notice some disturbing patterns in your child’s behavior. However, the earlier you face the challenge and begin treatment, the better your chances to raise a happy child. Here you have it: everything you can do to be a successful and fulfilled parent to an autistic child.

Learn About Autism

People usually do not know much about autism. Some remember characteristics of this disease with the character of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Things are different in reality. Symptoms and difficulties can vary greatly from one child to another, as are the ways to overcome numerous behavioral challenges and sensory issues.

Fortunately, today there is no shortage of reliable sources that help parents educate themselves not only about the treatment options but also how to best navigate the condition and manage its effects on the whole family. According to studies, it is crucial to recognize signs of autism as early as possible and seek professional help. Some parents prefer to bury their hands in the sand, pretending the problem doesn’t exist and hoping it will just disappear. Well, life isn’t a fairytale, hence do not waste precious time because early interventions can boost your child’s development.

Be an Expert on Your Autistic Child

Never underestimate the importance of your role – nobody can know your child better than you do, hence make every effort to figure out even the slightest details that might help you help your son and daughter. What makes your kid happy or angry? What are the triggers for a smiley face and disruptive behavior? 

When you know all the ins and outs of your child, it is much easier to develop your own system for modifying the majority of situations that cause difficulties. What’s more, over time you will be able to prevent many unpleasant moments and become a real master at troubleshooting.

Stop Comparing Your Child

It is hard not to compare your child to a boy next door or the son of your friends. However, the sooner you stop doing that the better you will feel. Instead of thinking of how different your autistic child is from other children, try to accept him as he is, with all the quirks and complexities. Perhaps, it won’t be easy in the beginning, but do not give up. Practice acceptance and you will see the results pretty quickly. You will get a piece of mind and a happier child.

Have Fun

Children with ASD love having fun. So don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the company of your autistic child doing something he or she really likes. Of course, your child can have a favorite toy. However, it is essential for parents to be a part of playtime when he/she is likely to come out of the shell. It’s also a great time to reward your autistic child for good behavior – positive reinforcement can turn to be a much more powerful “weapon” than you think.

Be Consistent, Stick to a Routine

Autistic children need a highly-structured routine, it makes them feel good, comfortable, and confident. Even if you are a pretty disorganized and messy person, you will have to set up a daily schedule of activities. More importantly, you will need to stick to it day after day.

Chances are you will have to make plenty of changes to your lifestyle. But no worries – as soon as you introduce the routine, you will be able to squeeze in a cup of coffee with your best friend or a gym between meals, school, therapy, bedtime, and all other responsibilities. As your family matures and your autistic child becomes more settled there is no reason why you should not be able to venture further afield and travel.

Father kissing a child
Caring for autistic children can be a challenge and a reward

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

As incredible as it may sound, your happiness counts too. The more you understand your child, the more fulfilled you feel as a parent. However, having a child with ASD doesn’t necessarily mean you must put your life, relationships, and career on hold. Help your autistic child to be happy and your family will be more happy too. In return, your son or daughter will make you not only more successful parents, but also better people-loving, patient, and understanding.


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