Autistic children face a lot of misunderstanding. You can trust me on that because I've been in the same position as your promising boy or girl is now. Just like your kid, I have autism. Just like your kid, I had parents who really wanted to help me, but didn't exactly know how. Just like your kid, I hated bedtime, even though I don't think that had anything to do with my autism. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I know what works and what doesn't for autistic children. Of course, not every kid with autism is the same, but most of them have at least a few similarities with each other related to their "uniqueness", as I like to call ASD. In this article, I will give you useful tips & tricks about how you can help your autistic child thrive. I will also explain to you what not do to, which is just as important.
To make the easier for myself, I will use "him" as the standard pronoun instead of typing "him or her" over and over again. Sorry if this offends you in any way possible, although I don't think it does.
- Find out what your child likes to do
As you might know, most autistic people can become very good at the things they're interested in. The reason behind this is that an autistic person has the ability to work very hard at achieving the goals they really want to achieve. You probably know the saying "hard work pays off", which is, definitely in this case, very true. By finding out what your child likes to do, you actually give him something to work on.
- Teach your child what autism really is
There are a lot of stereotypes about autistic people, trust me. Every time I tell someone I have autism, they don't believe me at first. Apparently, I function too well to be autistic. Anyway, it's important to teach your child about his uniqueness because otherwise, they might grow up thinking having autism is something to be ashamed of. By explaining to your child what being autistic means, you'll help him understand a part of himself.
- Show your child the beauty of autism
I personally believe this is the most important one of the do's. Autism is so much more than a disorder and if your child uses his uniqueness correctly, he can actually benefit from it. You probably know now why you should show your kid the beauty of autism but maybe you still wonder how to do so. There are lots of useful resources available on the internet that can help you with this, my blog is an example of it. So after reading this article, I suggest you read a few other articles of mine.
- Find proper help
Autism is more than just a disorder, but having it does cause a few problems. Therapy has helped me overcome my obstacles, even though I should thank myself the most. By "finding proper help" I don't mean those therapies to "cure" your child. Autism can't be cured and if it could, you'd steal a part of your kid's identity.
- Teach your child discipline and perseverance
Autistic children need guidance, every child does. In my early teen years, I had a lot of problems with discipline and perseverance. I was very lazy and I almost needed to repeat a whole school year. So learn from my lessons and teach your kid to be persistent, it will save you a lot of trouble later.
- Don't try to make your child something he is not
This is a don't in general. Parents should never try to define their kids. Of course, you need to correct your child if he's doing something wrong, but you also got to give him the space he needs to become the person he wants to be. Therefore, don't crush his dreams but analyze them together with your kid.
- Don't let your child see autism as a weakness
So I've been active on Autism Forums for a while now and I discovered how insecure a lot of autistic people are. Even I, who writes articles about how beautiful autism is, used to be very insecure. I personally think we should teach autistic children to be proud of their uniqueness because that's what it really is. Autism has its weaknesses, I admit that, but it also has its strengths. To read more about those autistic strengths, I suggest you take a look around my blog.
- Don't always accept bad behavior
An autistic child is still a child, which means bad behavior shouldn't be accepted. Of course, having a meltdown can happen once in a while, but don't let your kid use it as a way to misbehave. However, it is important to take into account that your child has a different way of expressing, himself than normal children. He might not know what he's doing wrong, so you need to explain that to him in a friendly way. By doing this, you'll kid will learn what's wrong and what isn't. However, not every way of thinking which differs from yours is wrong, keep that in mind.
As you have discovered by now, there are lots of ways to help your autistic child thrive. I suggest you try these do's at your child and see how he reacts. I also suggest you stop doing the don'ts, although I hope you didn't do any of those things in the first place. If you have any questions for me, you should definitely send me a message at the "Contact me" page. I'd love to answer every question you have, even if it's a critical one. Open-mindedness is the key to moving forward.