Parenting children is not easy. Imagine the hard job the parents of autistic children have. It is often an overwhelming task not only due to these children’s special needs and sometimes difficult to manage behaviors, but also due to their parents’ constant quest for therapies that offer some hope in improving or even curing this debilitating and very puzzling disorder. Many families not only find themselves isolated and perhaps scrutinized or even blamed for their child’s condition, but also broke as they try to follow every bit of hope of curing their child, often with but sometimes without results.
Here are some helpful hints to follow when you want to show your support to parents with a child who has been diagnosed with autism.
While parents will probably not ask for your help, they will not turn the offer down.
- Do not blame either of the parents for their child’s behavior. Autism is a neurological disorder and not a result of poor parenting.
- Learn a little bit about autism. Parents are forced to become overnight experts in autism, but family and friends often have very little knowledge about this puzzling neurological disorder.
- Don’t flood parents of autistic children with advice, especially if you yourself have no experience with such a child. Even if you do, not all autistic children are alike, they differ in personality and ability just like typical children differ from one another.
- Be a good listener. Parents go through a whole range of emotions especially right after their child’s diagnosis. Having a shoulder to cry on or someone that just listens is invaluable and essential for being able to start the healing and recovery process.
- Don’t shy away from an autistic child. Make an effort to try to communicate in a way that is not upsetting to the child. Be patient with your approach. Ask for advice from the parents on how they think you can best communicate with their child.
- Offer to babysit if you can. Parents are not only drained emotionally and longing for a bit of a break to recharge batteries, but as most therapies have lots of out-of-pocket expenses, they are most likely having financial difficulties as well. Offering your time occasionally will not only help them have a rare break, but will ease their financial burden also.
- Offer help with siblings. Children with autism need a lot of special attention. Siblings will really enjoy a little special attention of their own, be it a play date or a day out, or a trip to the cinema.
- Ask for any other ways you can help. Showing up with a made meal or helping out with the housework once in a while during difficult and trying times will be a wonderful way to give your support.