This made me think of my next column. Some of the advice I’m going to give may be a repeat of some things I’ve said in the past, but I think it’s important, especially for those who are just now finding out about their child. These are some things that have helped me along the way.
I would first like to say not to freak out. This is not a death sentence. It’s actually a good thing. Now you know the problem you can start finding ways to treat it. So many parents, myself included, seem to be upset at first. This is natural. The next emotion should be relief. You’re going to have many more in the future including frustration, anger, fear, and eventually joy.
It’s not going to be easy. Nobody said would be. In fact at times it’s going to be down-right hell. You need to prepare for this and never give up. You are your child’s only hope in making it in this world.
Find a support group. This is one of the best outlets for you frustrations. It’s crazy, but we want to know that we are not the only people in the world having problems. We want others to be doing as bad as or worse than we are. There are groups out there to help you vent and cope with the strain of parenting a child on the spectrum. They are also some of the best ways to find out about resources. Many of these parents have been through this before and can give you advice on where to look for answers.
Get help. It’s okay to ask for help. As I previously said, there are people out there that have been through this before. They know where to look. It’s great to ask because it will save you time and effort. It’s not a sign of weakness. In fact, it shows strength to ask someone for advice.
There is no such thing as a stupid question. I know we’ve all heard this one all our lives, and many can argue this. However, I had a great editor one time that told me, “If you have a question about something chances are someone else will to, so ask it.” That’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received.
You have to do your research. This is the best way to find ways to help your child. We have internet. Google is one of the greatest assets we can use. Be careful when looking for information on the internet. Make sure that it’s a legit site. Use your gut instinct. If it sounds crazy it probably is. However, there are some great resources out there if you just look. Books are also a great source. There are so many books out there that you can feel overwhelmed by the selection. Just find one that suits your need and dive in. This doesn’t even touch the surface of iPhone and iPad apps, podcasts, magazines, medical journals, etc. Just don’t overdo it.
The most important thing is to get therapy for your child. The sooner you do this the sooner you will see results. There is occupational therapy, sensory therapy, speech therapy, some have physical therapy, and the list goes on and on. This can be overwhelming too if you let it. Just remember that you giving your child the tools to prepare them for a better life.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not a good parent, either consciously or subconsciously. What does this mean? Well, we have so much pressure and frustration that sometimes we let others make us feel like we’re not being good parents. It’s tough raising any child, but one on the spectrum is multiplied ten-fold. If we hear another person, or parent, talking about something we did with our child it’s easy to take offense. Just remember that they don’t know what you’re situation is. They don’t understand everything involved in your life. And, if they are parents themselves, they have made mistakes themselves. They’re not perfect. If they’re not parents then they don’t get a say anyway (at least that’s my opinion).
These are just a few things to help put life into perspective for parents who are new to autism.
Disclaimer: I am in no way claiming to be an expert. I’m just a father who is trying to learn as much about Autism as I can to help my child. I hope that you all can learn from me, and I from you. I ask anyone who has questions or comments about something I have written, or autism, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will try to answer questions as I have time, and if I find it interesting enough I may touch on it in my column.