After recently having our son diagnosed with Autism we were fascinated to be included in a whole new world. For us the diagnosis hasn’t changed anything in how we deal or manage Mason’s behaviours but has allowed us to more fully understand how we as parents can help guide him through life. We have always had our challenges particularly with safety and running away. Anyone that has tried to hold a conversation with me at the park when Mason is running around can say my concentration is definitely elsewhere!
Perhaps the most helpful thing to do is to best explain how to approach children on the spectrum. The only problem is that no 2 children are the same and something that may work with one may set the other off into a meltdown. Being on the spectrum means that the wiring in the brain is set up differently to neuro typical children (NT). As parents our biggest challenges tend to be trying to avoid circumstances that will set ours kids into a meltdown. Meltdowns are not pretty and leave everyone, especially the parents, feeling worn out and stressed!
A few things that are helpful to know are:
- We are trying our best just as all parents are and sometimes we don’t have the answers as we often can’t understand what our children are going through.
- Often ASD children have sleeping issues which can mean severely sleep deprived parents! This is just not through the baby stage but can be through till they are teenagers. This unfortunately can wear anyone down, Mason hasn’t slept through for a very long time and can be up from midnight till 3am.
- That doing simple things like going for a walk along the beach can be impossible with ASD children. We definitely pick and choose when and if we do things now. Going to the beach is a headache as he thinks he can swim and runs straight into the water with no fear. Playgrounds without fences make it so hard to go to as he runs off without any notice.
- Please don’t judge iPad use when out and about. If they are kept quiet and mum or dad can get a break this is great!! Trust me, it’s much better than a screaming melting down child.
- We often don’t know how and if our children will improve to function in society. Our biggest worries are bullies and the school system is hard for even a NT child to venture through let alone someone on the spectrum that may have different ways of behaving and communicating.
- We love our children more than anything and not all want their children to be ‘cured’. The thing with ASD is that it can’t be cured. Yes there are therapies, diet changes etc. that can help manage behaviour and communicating, but once born with ASD it hangs around for life. I know people may mean well but tread carefully when discussing ways that have helped other children, it may not work with everyone.
- We don’t have a diagnosis so that we can blame everything on that. ASD children still need boundaries and need to be taught right from wrong. They are still children after all and we all know they all have the ability to challenge and disrupt at times!
Understanding and tolerance goes a long way in this world! My hope is that we can educate ourselves and our kids with ways to communicate with ASD kids. That they aren’t all the same, that they have gorgeous personalities and even though it might be hard for them to show it at times, they crave love and attention too.