5 Common Mistakes Autism Parents Make, and How to Avoid Them

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Here’s a fact: being a parent is hard. (Uh…understatement of the century?) And for that reason, in addition to the fact that you are only human, you as a parent will make mistakes. There will be times in the future when you will look back and say, “That probably wasn’t the best decision. I wish I had done things differently.” And that’s okay.

Of course, you probably want to avoid making these mistakes in the first place. How can you do this? By listening to what other parents in similar situations have to say—and learning from the mistakes they have made.

Here are some mistakes other autism parents have commonly made—and what you can do differently.

Adobe Stock/pavel_shishkin

Adobe Stock/pavel_shishkin

5. TRYING TO “FIX” THE CHILD

When many parents first receive their child’s diagnosis, their initial reaction is panic and despair, and it’s honestly no wonder. Many of these parents know little to nothing about autism to begin with, and doctors are notorious for giving them a bad first impression of the disorder by painting a picture of shortcomings and things their child will “likely never do.” Add to that our already bleak narratives surrounding autism, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for a loving, devoted parent who panics and thinks they need to cure their child.

What’s the Problem?

While autism doesn’t solely define your child, it is still part of who they are. It’s how their brain is wired and how they see and process the world. No matter how much you may want to, you will not be able to fix it. That’s an unrealistic expectation to have and sets you up for disappointment. Even more significantly, it’s not fair to your child. They may have challenges, but they are not broken and not in need of “fixing.”

What’s the Solution?

Identify your child’s biggest, most concerning challenges and set attainable goals with your child’s doctor or therapist. You will not “fix” them, but you can help them improve upon the things they struggle with and give them tools to live happy, independent lives. Make that your goal instead. And practice acceptance; love and accept your child for who they are right now, not who you hope they will someday become. Rid your mind of all the autism myths—there are lots of them—and replace them with the truth. You will find, as many parents do, that autism does not stop your child from being the awesome, loving, funny, smart, and happy kid they are.

4. CHOOSING TREATMENTS THAT AREN’T SCIENTIFICALLY BACKED

Many times, in their desperation to “cure” their child’s autism or simply alleviate some of the challenges, parents will turn to sketchy treatments and unscientific sources.

Adobe Stock/RFBSIP

Adobe Stock/RFBSIP

What’s the Problem?

Treatments that don’t have scientific backing are too risky to be worth trying. There’s no way to know for sure if they are effective or even safe. And in fact, there are several “treatments” peddled by charlatans that are known to be dangerous, such as “Miracle Mineral Solution,” which is basically a bleach enema. You may shell out significant amounts of money for a “treatment” that doesn’t do squat—or worse, hurts or even kills your child.

What’s the Solution?

Be extremely careful when looking into treatments, especially those that are complementary and alternative (i.e. not based on contemporary, mainstream medicine). Stick with interventions that have studies and scientific evidence to back them up (anecdotal evidence and testimonies from parents do not count!). And always, always consult with your child’s doctor before trying anything new.

3. WAITING AROUND TO GET AN ASSESSMENT

Sometimes parents notice that their child is a little different or that something seems “off.” However, they may put off getting their child screened for autism. Oftentimes loved ones or even doctors will tell them there’s nothing to worry about. Sometimes parents may also be afraid to get an answer or fear “labeling” their child and thus put off getting an assessment.

What’s the Problem?

Research shows that early intervention is key to helping a child with autism achieve the best possible outcomes. The earlier your child gets diagnosed, the sooner they can start therapy. On the flip side, waiting around means delaying getting necessary services for your child.

Adobe Stock/JackF

Adobe Stock/JackF

What’s the Solution?

Trust your gut. If you feel something is “off” with your child, look into it and push for an assessment. If your doctor or loved ones blow you off, don’t give up. Be persistent in your search for an answer; there is no harm in checking to be sure. If your child truly does have autism, you will have caught it early. And if not, at least you looked into it.

2. NOT ASKING FOR HELP

Perhaps they think they are the only ones who will be able to care for their child. Maybe they think of getting help as a luxury that is too expensive. Maybe they think they should be able to handle everything themselves. Maybe they don’t realize they’re not alone. In any case, sometimes parents turn down offers of help or avoid looking for it or asking for it.

What’s the Problem?

You can’t and shouldn’t take this journey alone. Parenting is hard, and you need support—especially because your child has special needs. Trying to do it all yourself can lead to burnout, mental illness like depression, and feelings of resentment and isolation. And when you are not healthy or happy, you won’t be able to be the best parent and caregiver you can be.

What’s the Solution?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially from those who have offered it. Loved ones often want to help but won’t know what they can do. So ask if they’d be willing to do something specific for you—whether that’s babysitting, grocery shopping, offering a ride or car pool, taking care of household chores, or anything else you may need that’ll take some stress off your shoulders. The worst they can say is “no.”

If there’s no one in your immediate social circle who can help, you can also turn to professional respite services. Believe it or not, it is feasible. Learn more about it here.

1. THINKING SPEECH IS THE ONLY VIABLE COMMUNICATION METHOD

Adobe Stock/Africa Studio

Adobe Stock/Africa Studio

Speech is held in high regard in our society. As such, it’s not surprising that parents become heartbroken when their child has little to no ability to speak. They may fall into the belief that giving their child the ability to speak with their mouths is of vital importance, and thus they may focus more on getting their children to speak rather than communicate.

What’s the Problem?

Every person has something to say, and every person deserves the chance to express it. Verbal communication may be an effective way to do so, but it is by no means the only way, nor should it be the only method autistic children are taught. Downplaying the importance of or denying your child an alternative means of communication while they learn verbal speech is neither right nor fair.

What’s the Solution?

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking your child to speech therapy or hoping you’ll someday hear them speak. However, speech should not be the number one priority; communication should. So find a form of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) that works for your child and teach it to them. You can learn more about that here.

CONCLUSION

If your child has recently been diagnosed or you suspect they are on the spectrum, you may feel all sorts of emotions like fear, grief, and anger. There is nothing wrong with this, but don’t let them get in the way of your logic and reason. Take a deep breath and remember: you aren’t the first person to raise an autistic child. Learn from those who have gone before you and avoid stumbling into the same pitfalls they did.
via : theautismsite

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