Finding out that your child has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder can feel incredibly destabilizing. In those first few days and weeks, you will be asking many questions, such as how to raise an autistic child? Where do you go from here? How do you best support them? How do you make sense of conflicting treatment options? Where do you find a good autism services center?
How to raise an autistic child
While all this is new to you, please take a deep breath because we have everything you need to help you support and raise an autistic child.
Accept your child fully.
To raise an autistic child, you need to accept them fully for who they are. Remember that your child is unique, and they will therefore face their kinds of challenges. To move forward and progress with their treatment, you must be fully ready to take on the responsibilities associated with raising an autistic child.
The first step is accepting your child and not trying to change them or compare them. They are who they are, and they are wonderfully and perfectly made. Always remember that!
Remain consistent in everything that you do
It is essential to understand that autistic children may struggle to apply everything they have learned in one setting. You need to reinforce things consistently for your child to grasp a concept fully.
Find out what your child is learning at school or in therapy and continue encouraging them to practice those things at home. This will teach them to transfer what they have learned from one environment to another.
Get into the habit of positive reinforcement.
Raising an autistic child means understanding the power of rewarding good behavior. This is one of the greatest tools that you have at your disposal. When your child learns a new skill or puts in an exceptional effort, they must understand that they were acting appropriately and that it is acknowledged.
By praising their behavior, they now associate that action with positive affirmations, which means they are more likely to continue to do it.
Learn their non-verbal cues
Being a parent to an autistic child means becoming aware and observant of your child’s behaviors – specifically, their non-verbal cues as this is often how autistic children communicate.
Pay extra attention to their gestures, sounds they make, and even their facial expressions, as they are key indicators of how they are feeling. They could also be a vital clue to a potential tantrum that erupts, as that is often how they showcase anger or frustration. Learning these cues means being able to mitigate issues in the future.
Look out for sensory sensitivities.
It is also important to note that most autistic children are hypersensitive to light, tastes, smells, sound, and touch. This means you will need to look out for all sensory triggers that might disrupt your child or affect their behavior.
While you can avoid not all of these triggers, you must help teach your child ways to address and cope with these environments. If you understand what affects your child, you’ll be better at troubleshooting problems.
As the famous saying goes, “patience is a virtue,” which you will need to acquire – particularly when raising an autistic child. When your child is diagnosed with autism, they generally have a slower processing speed, which means they need a little more time to process things – especially words.
This means you need to help them by practicing patience. Instead of getting annoyed, please slow down and give them time to process everything. Remember, they are doing the best that they can!
Create a therapy-based treatment plan
As a parent, it can be tempting to assume that you know everything right for your child, but that is not always the case. Many licensed therapists have mastered helping autistic children (and parents of autistic children) cope with day-to-day life.
Lean on their knowledge and expertise as they are one of the most significant sources of support and understanding. They will be able to help you in lots of ways that cannot be overlooked.
How to raise an autistic child
Raising an autistic child will come with challenges, but it also comes with many incredible and beautiful rewards. Remember to be kind to yourself and your child, and know that the road ahead will bring you some incredible, unique experiences. Make sure to use this blog as a gentle guide to being the best version of you for your child