Over six in 10 children who suffer from autism experience some form of bullying.
As a parent, dealing with an autistic child comes with many challenges. Yet these challenges pale in comparison to those that children with autism face if they don’t get the proper care and support from their loved ones.
In fact, the average person with autism lives 16 years less than someone who isn’t on the spectrum. The top two causes of death are heart disease and suicide, both of which are preventable in many cases.
Learning how to raise an autistic child is a key step in helping them become more independent, productive members of society.
Read on to find out how you can set your little one up for a long, rewarding life.
Adjust Your Parenting Style
Autistic kids don’t respond well to free-range parenting, because they need additional parental supervision and engagement. They tend to progress more slowly than other kids, so competitive and perfectionist parenting are out of the question too.
As a result, it’s easy to fall into the trap of becoming a helicopter parent, where you want to do everything for your kid. That said, this robs them of vital learning opportunities.
When teaching new things to your child, offer them straightforward, step-by-step instructions. Give them a chance to make mistakes and learn from them so they can become more independent.
Rather than protecting your child from failure, utilize the Positive Discipline parenting model. Reward your little one for positive behaviors instead of bailing them out of difficult situations.
Maintain a Sense of Structure
Throwing an autistic child into an unfamiliar environment does little more than overwhelm them. They thrive when they have stability in their lives, and it’s your job to provide it. Every task needs a clear starting point and a finish line.
If your kid has issues getting dressed, place numbered sticky notes on their clothes. Tell them to start with number one and work there way up to number five.
Visual timetables can also make new situations more palatable. Before you go on a camping trip with the family, for example, take pictures of the campsite. Use those images to explain what activities you’re planning throughout the day.
Avoid Doing It Alone
Do you ever feel like nobody in your social circle can relate to what you’re experiencing?
Joining an autism support group allows you to bond with parents going through similar struggles. Not to mention, it’s also one of the best ways to stay informed about new treatment options.
Explore tried-and-true treatments such as Applied Behavior Analysis therapy as well. ABA therapy providers like BlueSprig (https://bluesprigautism.com) create personalized treatment plans.
What if you have a partner but your relationship has taken a hit?
Many people like to throw around a stat that claims married couples with autistic kids are much more likely to divorce. Ignore it, because it’s pure bunk.
However, that doesn’t mean raising a child with autism can’t put a strain on a relationship. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a couples therapist, and consider getting respite care if you need more alone time with your partner.
Final Thoughts on How to Raise an Autistic Child
When opportunities arise, serve as a volunteer at your son’s or daughter’s school. This gives you a chance to meet teachers and find out whether your school’s program is up to par.
Also, participate in Autism Speaks walks to support autism research and promote awareness.
The process of learning how to raise an autistic child will, without a doubt, test your patience. Be sure out check out our 10 life hacks for parents to make dealing with autism easier!