Having a child with autism makes the job of raising a child even harder. The parents have to do a lot of research to help them understand how autism affects their child individually. They have to deal with Individual Education Programs (IEP) if they are in school or learn unique ways of teaching their children if they homeschool. Each day is different from the last and they never know when a day will be good or bad. However, with all this extra work and heartache comes a stronger bond. Often, what takes the most work reaps the most benefits and autism is no different.
When a parent learns her child has autism, she often goes through the grieving process as if the child has died. This is because the ideas and hopes she had when the child was born have died. No matter if a child is able to function well or not, the parent feels as if the child will never have a successful life. This is because so little is known about autism, and parents usually think about the lowest functioning children.
Once she goes through the natural process of grieving and is ready to face these new challenges head on, she’ll see it doesn’t mean those hopes are gone. They may have just changed. In most cases, a child can function well in society with some adaptive techniques. The grieving process is the first step in coping with a new diagnosis of autism, preparing the parent to see things from a different perspective, much like the child does.
The best place to start learning how to cope with autism is to research the disorder. Often, learning about something that seems so scary and frustrating can help alleviate the fears and frustrations one may feel. There are many ways that parents have found to relieve symptoms of autism. Because every child is different and may not respond to particular methods, the parents need to fully understand the various therapies, diet changes, routines and methods of discipline to see what works best for their child.
Sometimes the family may feel as if they are the only ones raising a child with autism. It suddenly seems as if every other child around is “normal” and has no problems with meltdowns, social phobias or sensory issues. This feeling of isolation is one of the main factors that makes coping with autism so hard. Finding support groups can help parents find new ideas and hear from families who are going through the same problems. Play groups can be started to encourage social interaction while helping the parents learn how to work with their children. Online support groups are a great source of information, as well.
Most children with autism don’t learn skills by simple observation as other kids do. They may not pick up on things such as fine motor skills or develop healthy sleep patterns without some form of therapy. There are several types of therapy designed to help children with autism learn the skills they need to excel in life such as sensory integration therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy and play therapy.
Some therapy is provided through public schools, but not always. Private therapy sessions offer parents the opportunity to receive professional help when the child needs more than the school can provide. Some parents choose to do their own therapy tailored to the individual needs of the child. Regardless of where the child receives help, it is essential in reducing the symptoms, making autism easier to cope with for both parents and child.
Ask for help
Sometimes, the very thing a parent needs is to take a break. Being able to run an errand without having to worry about a meltdown in the produce aisle can seem like heaven. Ask someone the child knows to help out once in a while either by watching him, or running errands. Getting away gives a chance to recharge the emotional batteries that burn out from living with a child with autism. Hire a teenager to help out with some house cleaning or other work that needs to be done.
Understanding the child and accepting him for who he is, helping him progress and move past many of the challenges that hold him back, helps a family cope with autism. Reaching out, trying different techniques and seeking help are just a few ideas that can help both the parents and the child as they live out this adventure called autism. While challenging, it is full of blessings, as well.