The most successful, happy autistic adults are the ones who were nurtured and loved exactly as they were as children. This means that parents celebrate who they are and do not mourn or chide who they are not. Though you might be having a difficult time processing what autism means, this blog site is a safe place to help you work through it.
While it may be difficult for you to make sense of what autism means for you and your family, and you may even be sad your child isn’t the way you expected, it’s far more important to focus on who they are.
Finding ways to honor and celebrate your child and their unique neurology is the key to bonding and growing as a family. You will be amazed at what you notice in your child once you shift your focus from what they lack to the abundance of who they are.
The worst way to raise an autistic child is to believe that they should progress exactly as a neurotypical child. They’re not the same, but there are similarities.
I will not belabor this post with all of the ways humans might need the same things. Instead, let’s get to it. From years of research, here are the best ways to support autistic children:
1. Successful autistic adults’ sensory needs are believed and met.
If you are not autistic, your sensory profile is probably very different. That’s ok. What’s not ok is denying another’s reality simply because it’s not yours. Sensory needs must be honored to help the child regulate, rather than being preoccupied with how you or others perceive the child’s behavior as either positive or negative.
This means when it is too loud for your child, hearing protection is offered.
If the environment is too hot or too bright, accommodations are made (like offering cool water, or sunglasses/hat/shade), even if the adult isn’t too hot.
If the child needs a break, the adult allows it instead of forcing the child to endure the torture. It doesn’t matter if it seems silly or unnecessary to you; believe them first and watch your bond deepen and your child thrive.
2. Varying communication styles are tended to and counseled.
Efforts are made to understand what the child is communicating in both words and behaviors, even if they’re not typical.
The adult does not worry so much about their own “expectation” as they do helping the child express themselves.
Many autistic people are gestalt language processors, which means scripting and echolalia are used to communicate rather than original speech. @bohospeechie is a wonderful expert in this style of communication. Other autistic people struggle to verbally communicate and might need an AAC device or sign language.
The most successful parents of autistic kids understand that all communication is valid, and finding a way to meet a child where they’re at is paramount to developing a loving, stable relationship.
3. Etiquette and other social norms are explicitly taught so as to avoid grave social interactions that often devastate autistic people.
This helps autistic people have positive social interactions, and understand how to navigate neurotypical oddities like asking how people are doing even when neither party really cares about the truth. Rather than focusing on “manners”, etiquette is explained clearly. The rules and expectations of a community are outlined to the child to help them understand social nuances, rather than blindly break unspoken rules.
4. Interests are encouraged, valued, and never belittled.
This helps autistic people make true bonds and friendships and have a deep sense of self.
The realization that certain societal metrics like grades and “age appropriate activities” are largely governed by neurotypical people for neurotypical children. Though these were not created with your child in mind, these are the expectations and rules of society.
Efforts must be made to create a unique barometer that celebrates your child’s progress.
I hope this helps you.
Please follow me on social media @sentationalstims for other supports to help your autistic loved one thrive!