Is your child recently diagnosed with autism? Or perhaps, are you going through changes or milestones in your child’s life, making acceptance of their condition difficult? You may now be sending them to school, and suddenly, coping with their autism seems much harder than it was. It may be your first time having a person with autism in the family, making you feel uncertain and confused.
In any situation, acceptance is a process. From denial, we may all go through anger, bargaining, and depression before finally reaching acceptance. Also, acceptance is not a linear and one-time process, especially for a lifetime challenge such as living with autism. There will always be instances of denial, bargaining, depression, and anger throughout this journey. It is okay to struggle because this journey is not an easy one.
As a parent, you would want to get all the help you need in raising your child with autism. Just like raising any other child, it always takes a village. Love and acceptance start in a nurturing home so they can one day face the world. How do you begin living life with autism?
Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is an umbrella term of a developmental disability with a wide range of presentations. Unlike other conditions, the signs and symptoms of autism are usually different for every child. There are red flags that may help diagnose ASD early in a child’s life. However, each child with autism is unique with their own set of needs.
According to CDC, data shows one in every 54 children is diagnosed with autism. The increasing data can be alarming, but it may indicate something good. It shows more children are being diagnosed and receiving the intervention they need. Through the years, we learn more about autism and how we can help children with this diagnosis.
Counseling is vital in understanding the impact of your child’s diagnosis. With understanding comes acceptance and learning how we can manage life with autism.
Parenting A Child With Autism
Raising a child with autism also requires basic parenting skills in child-rearing. You must be good at being a parent because you will also do what all other parents do. As parents, we must learn techniques in organizing the home, managing behavioral tantrums, teaching skills, and so much more.
Always allow yourself to have room for improvement and constant growth. You may attend parenting seminars, talks, classes, and counseling so you can get to know more tips and techniques. After learning, practice and application allow you to see what works and what does not work for your child. The key is to grow with your child and adapt to the changes they may need through time.
Individual Counseling – Caring For Yourself To Care For Others
A child with autism may need more attention and energy compared to other children. It is normal to feel stressed and burned out as you care for your child. However, healthy well-being allows us to be better caregivers. Talking to a counselor may help you deal with your struggles so you can help your child and your family. Counseling will facilitate your coping in difficult situations such as moments of distress, anxiety, maladaptation, and mental or emotional struggles.
The Power Of Early Intervention
The sooner you learn and accept the diagnosis of your child, the better. It allows them to get the help they need right away for better outcomes. We can minimize delays, and your child will find it easier to cope once they receive intervention early on.
There are different types of intervention available for children with autism. These are not designed to cure autism. It teaches your child the skills they need to become functional and independent. Among the available treatments, counseling and therapies are:
- Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)
- Occupational Therapy (OT)
- Speech Therapy
- Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)
- Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT)
- Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)
Family Counseling – Getting On The Same Page
It is essential to work together as a family when it comes to raising your child with autism. There should be consistency, so they would not get confused and biased. Family counseling may facilitate communication and understanding at home to create a nurturing environment for your child. We must work together to manage our expectations and manage our roles as parents.
Support groups are also available for parents of children with autism. Counseling in groups provides parents a safe space to share their struggles and also learn from other parents.
Take Note Of Their Strengths And Struggles
Every child faces their own set of accomplishments and challenges every day. These strengths and struggles are more apparent in children with autism. Some of them are exceptionally good at one field or task, while they need more help in others. For example, your child with autism may have an incredible photographic memory or is very gifted in the music and arts. But for the most part, they have difficulty making friends.
As parents, we need to know the individual skills, interests, quirks, and difficulties our children face every day. To find these out, we can observe them in their everyday mundane tasks. But more importantly, we can help them find their cutting-edge skills and nurture them. Doing these will not only boost your child’s self-confidence, but you’ll also help them achieve more in life.
Advocate For Awareness, Acceptance, And Inclusion
As parents, we have strong instincts in protecting our children. Your fear for your child’s present and future is valid. In a world where stigma and discrimination for children with disabilities prevail, we become advocates. It begins with acceptance within us.
Children with autism are exceptional with their own set of strengths and unique abilities. They are just like the rest of us, even if they have their way of seeing and understanding the world. A diagnosis with ASD does not change your child. They are the same precious being you held as they were born. Their diagnosis only allows you to understand them better.
As your child grows, you would want to create the same opportunities for them. Your acceptance of autism can radiate into the world so they can have a bigger, more nurturing space to grow. When we advocate for autism awareness and acceptance, we also fight for their inclusion in society. Then, you can ease your worries as they grow into a world where people with autism are not treated differently.