So you have an autistic child

So your child was recently diagnosed as autistic. Before you read my opinion and advice, I highly suggest reading this post by Jess Wilson of Diary of a Mom and K’s beautiful Try On My Shoes post.

I understand you may be scared. That you may wonder what the future of your child holds. And that’s okay. All parents are – regardless of what kind of diagnosis your child has. It’s all normal and it’s all a matter of perspective. It’s all a matter of accepting your child and loving your child as they are. This is why I came up with this list of 4 Tips for the Parent of an Autistic Child.

 

1. No verbal speech does not mean they have no voice

Please, I plead with you, never say you are your child’s only voice. That they do not have a voice. Your child has a voice and it rings loud and clear. It’s in their eyes. Their smile. Their body language. In the way they sway to the music or the way they play with their toys. Take the time to listen. Take the time to learn how your child is communicating with you. They are giving you a precious gift – their love, their trust, their voice. Even if it’s not traditional… listen.

2. If you wouldn’t do it to a neurotypical child, don’t do it to them.

So many autism mom bloggers post intimate details of their child’s life. Details no one needs to know and would certainly never be published about a NT child. They are violating their child’s trust and privacy. Just because they will never be able to read it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t want it out there. Just  because they don’t understand or even have a clue doesn’t mean it should be posted. Now, I understand that parents want their voices heard. But ask yourself two questions: First, if I were my child and this were about me, would I want this posted? Second, who is this post for? Is it to get attention for myself? Is it  to get help and advice for my child? Is it so people thank ME for being open about my child? Or is it to share part of my child’s story and their beauty? After you answer these questions, then use that to frame your blog post.

3. Respect the stim

Ah, stimming. Stimming is one of those BIG THINGS about autistic children, and adults too! People hate it. Stimming is critical for us – it grounds us. It keeps us calm. It gives us enjoyment. Everyone stims for different reasons. Things like “quiet hands” don’t do a whole lot of good. Encourage the stim. It keeps us calm in a wild, scary world. It is one thing that is constant. I am not hurting you by playing with my zipper bracelet. Nothing wrong with fiddling with a stuffed animal. Love us. Accept us. And allow us to stim.

4. Don’t use their disabilities or quirks for a cheap laugh

So many times, I’ve seen sensory issues or taste/texture aversions used for a laugh. It isn’t funny if all your child wants to eat is one food. If your child requires certain textures of clothes. They aren’t doing it to be difficult. They aren’t trying to make your life harder. It’s just a part of who they are. It is mean to make fun of something that cannot be controlled. If your child is happy eating oatmeal for every meal, then your child is happy eating oatmeal for every meal. No need to turn it into a martyr-fest and no need to ridicule them for it.

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So maybe your child was newly diagnosed. Maybe you’ve known for awhile. But now you know how to teach your child with respect.

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