10 Tips for New Autism Parents

10 Tips for New Autism Parents

A child’s autism diagnosis can mess with parents’ heads. When a child is diagnosed with autism, parents often feel a wide range of emotions from relief to despair and everything in between. They are very upset & don’t know where to start. Been there, done that.

I know every spectrum family is on its own journey and will endure its own unique challenges.  But I also know the relief in meeting other autism families.  I hope my learnings can help other parents and they don’t feel isolated. So, for those who are new to Club Autism and looking for some guidance, here are the 10 Commandments that might help you

  1. Its ok to grieve, its ok to be sad

Just breathe and feel every emotion that you are feeling. Its ok to be sad when you think of the ‘normal’ childhood your kid has missed or the life not being the way you had envisioned it to be. Its natural to feel sorrow because you are human and you have a heart. Allow yourself to feel that sadness but don’t dwell in it for too long, your child is waiting, and you have an important job to do.

  1. Don’t worry about what other people say or think.

Be prepared for the stares, the comments, the unsolicited advice …. it never ends. Most people are ignorant about autism. There are multiple ways to deal with that – raise an eyebrow, argue with them, be sarcastic, get offended, pick up a fight, ignore them or educate them …. totally your choice. But trust me the most liberating moment of this journey would be when you stop worrying about public and how they perceive you. Accept autism, own it, don’t try to hide it and most importantly Chin Up!

  1. Stop Comparing & Throw the ‘typical milestones’ out of the door

Don’t compare your child with either Neurotypical kids or with other Autistic kids. This is a new world, those typical milestones, those benchmarks, those rules no longer apply here. Your child would set his own and would get there in his time, his way. So just “Let it go!”. Agonizing over delays is pointless.

  1. Learn everything you can about Autism & Customize

Once you are in a fairly stable state, start looking for information about autism. But take everything with a pinch of salt. Don’t rush into things. Take your time to make wise decisions. Autism is not a one size fits all diagnosis so tweak what you have learnt and personalize it for your child. Experts know a lot about autism, but you know your child best.

  1. Networking – Find your Tribe

Remember like when in college or a new workplace you had seniors to mentor you, same way you have elders in ASD world. Connect with those parents, support groups, an ASD adult or a qualified professional who could empower you as a parent and make life easier. We are lucky to be in the era of FB, Twitter, WhatsApp, Telegram etc. which makes it easier to connect. Its an arduous journey but Autism Parents is one species that would always be accessible, some Autism Parent is always awake somewhere on the planet. But again, when you receive an advice refer point no. 4, yes, the pinch of salt.

  1. Prioritize

After the baseline medical needs of your child are met, I recommend that parents set their priorities right. Addressing all the concerns at once won’t lead you anywhere so be aware of your surroundings and pick your battles. Daily living skills, self-help, communication, and socially appropriate skills should come first. Don’t waste your precious time on things like discouraging stimming, jumping, flapping or any kind of rote learning of numbers or alphabets

  1. Remember you are a parent and not perfect

Accept the fact that you are going to try different stuff and you would also make mistakes. Some of the therapies, medicines, supplements, diet would just not work in your child’s case. Its ok to feel you don’t know what you’re doing. Honestly none of us do really, we are all just muddling along the very best we can. Be open to experimenting new ideas, laugh a little at your stumble and move forward. Work hard but don’t beat up yourself.

  1. Care for Self & your Child

You are now going to run a never-ending marathon so pace yourself. Indulge in activities that destress you, relax and recharge yourself every now & then. Activities such as humor, yoga, meditation, watching TV, singing, blogging etc. could help. Like all children, even your child needs parents but more importantly parents who are healthy and happy. As for your child, accept him, love him, support him, value him and make sure the child gets the message.

  1. Teamwork

When a child is diagnosed with autism it does not mean sadness & screams all the time. It also does not mean assigning all the related responsibilities to one person which is, the mother, in most of the cases. It means that you learn the importance of teamwork, join hands, share responsibility, make it work and celebrate every success together. Parents, siblings, friends, teachers, therapists …. all have to play their part. Just because our kids don’t learn the way ‘typical’ kids do doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them. Rather it means that we as caregivers need to find different ways to try and make a connection.

  1. Stop Projecting & Worrying about the Future,

Many of us spend our days looking towards the future, worrying about things that haven’t happened yet. We dread imaginary situations that are purely hypothetical and result in nothing but stress. We worry so much about our ‘future child’ that we miss our “present child”. Please don’t miss out on the wondrous moments in your journey. Laugh harder, spend less time worrying, and more time living.

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