Ways to Support Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder – BY Applied Behavior Analysis Programs
There are ways to support parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. Many people want to know how to provide support for families with autism, but are unsure how to go about it. It can be stressful worrying about giving offense, which is why many people, unfortunately, remain silent. These actions will be appreciated by both the parents and the children alike.
You might be wondering how to help an autistic child and their family feel included. Being inclusive is an important part of being an ally to minorities of all types. The same is true for autism spectrum disorder. Invite the parent and their child to activities and encourage them to participate.
It’s important to distinguish between being inclusive and tokenism. No one should invite autistic children to parties just because they want to be seen as “brave” or “inspirational.” Autistic people are not charity cases or items and don’t like to feel as such. Instead, connect with them and their parents genuinely and honestly. Teach children to be understanding of the issues their peers have. If the parent is inclusive, their children are likely to be more inclusive towards autistic friends as well.
It’s hard enough being a parent. It’s even harder being a parent to a child with an autism diagnosis. Do not judge a parent for any perceived lack of control over their children or how they choose to raise their autistic child. They are likely struggling and just as frustrated as an observer may be.
It’s also important not to write off autistic children as “stupid,” because they are not. In fact, there are certain tasks autistic children exceed at, such as:
- solving complex problems
- recognizing patterns and finding irregularities
- long term memory skills
The most important step to providing family support for autism spectrum disorder is to learn about autism spectrum disorders. Autism manifests itself in different ways. For example, Asperger’s is a form of high-functioning autism where the child may otherwise appear normal but has issues with social cues. There is much misinformation about autism out there, such as the disproven link to vaccines. The Center for Disease Control clarifies that this is a debunked claim. Obtain all information about autism from reputable sources, including scientific journals, major newspapers, and autism advocacy groups.
Parents may sometimes choose to confide in those they feel are close friends. However, that does not give permission for someone to spread private information about a parent’s struggles with their autistic child. Parents of children with autism can be supported by keeping everything they say confidential unless otherwise stated. In some cases, breaking confidentiality might not only be rude but also harmful. This can include the loss of opportunities because of the disclosure of private medical information. Respect both the parent’s and the child’s right to privacy.
Parents and children who are living with autism face significant stigma in everyday life. There is not always legislation to protect them or their rights. Others can be supportive by advocating for the rights of autistic people in different ways. This can include politically or simply in everyday life when discrimination is encountered. Help parents by speaking up on behalf of them and their children. It is a gesture that won’t soon be forgotten.
Autism Resources for Families with Children on the Spectrum
Parents of children with autism need to feel supported and know that they are not alone in their challenges. We highlight some of the most impactful resources for families of children with autism.
Support groups can be a great way to meet other parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Support groups provide families dealing with autism a way to share stories and resources. Guest speakers can provide information about new therapies or services that might benefit an individual with autism.
An online support group can also be beneficial. They provide flexibility for busy families who are unable to find the time to attend in person. Unfortunately, not all communities have active face-to-face support groups. Online support groups can help fill this critical gap and help families build a virtual network of support.
Early Intervention Services
Early intervention services are supports and services for families that help children under the age of three meet developmental milestones. The federal government provides grants to the states to help administer EI programs through Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Early intervention services have been shown to improve IQ, language ability and social interaction. Since children with autism often struggle with communication, early intervention services are critical for families.
Autism Speaks is an organization “dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.” Autism Speaks works to achieve this mission through:
- advocacy and support
- increasing the understanding and acceptance of individuals with autism
- advancing autism research
- exploring better interventions for ASD and other related conditions
Parents of newly diagnosed children can find themselves overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. Autism Speaks offers a “100 Day Kit for Newly Diagnosed Families.” This helpful kit includes a guide of what parents can do in the first 100 days after an autism diagnosis. The kit is available to family members of young children (under 5) and school age children.
Autism Speaks also provides a Special Needs Financial Planning Tool Kit that includes a chapter on financial assistance and planning for the future. This valuable tool can help take some of the stress out of financial planning for a child with autism.