10 Tips For New Autism Parents
1. IT'S OKAY TO BE SCARED
I remember the first time my son was diagnosed with Autism. I was scared to say the least, what is Autism, what does it really mean, what will be the outcome for my child, and how will I manage? You will have all of these questions and so much more. It is okay to be scared. It is a normal emotion and let yourself go through these emotions. It is important in the long run.
2. BE CAREFUL OF THE INTERNET
The internet has some great resources and, there are many reputable sites with great information. Try to access those only. Initially stick to the established and large organizations like Able2learn, Autism Speaks, Autism Canada, Autism Ontario. Be careful of what you read on the internet. Don't believe everything and don't try to overload yourself with information and become overwhelmed and scared. Google is not the ultimate answer and neither is it a Doctor.
3. TRY EVERYTHING YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH ONLY
There are many therapies out there, from evidence based to suggestions from therapists and parents. Do only the ones you are comfortable with and , that fit your lifestyle and the objectives of your family. Not all of them will work. Unfortunately there is not a one fits all prescription. What worked for one child will not necessarily work for another child.
4. THERAPY IS EXPENSIVE
Brace yourself, Autism therapy is very expensive. From psychologists, speech therapists, Occupational Therapists, Senior Therapists, Therapists and the list goes on. My best advice is do what you can afford. Don't feel guilty for what you cannot afford. You are doing your best. Visit www.able2learn.com to get free educational resources to get yourself started. These resources will save you money. You can learn to do therapy yourself, it is not hard.
5. DON'T BLAME YOURSELF
This is one I have been guilty of and, I don't believe there is a single mother or father out there that has not gone to think of the past to try to figure out if it is something they did to cause Autism. I want to tell you here, and don't every forget my words, YOU DID NOTHING WRONG - AND IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT- Evidence shows Autism is caused by genetics and environmental influences. Anyone who tells you otherwise be eliminate the bad seed from your life.
6. BE PREPARED FOR ADVICE GOERS
Everyone under the sun is going to have advice for you. Be polite. Know the different between those friends and family members who are genuinely trying to help and those that are not being kind. I simply say thank you to those who send me articles, information and, therapies. In my heart, I know they are doing it because they care, I acknowledge it, but what I do with the information is totally up to me and my family.
7. TAKE ALONE TIME FOR YOURSELF
This does not mean take time with your spouse , friend, parent, sibling or another child. This means exactly what it says, take alone time for yourself. This could be a long walk, a massage, coffee, a night away, or a moment to cry. You are entitled to take a break, feel emotions and, re energize yourself. I cannot stress how important this one is, and, it is one you must do on a regular basis, if possible , once a week.
8. TAKE YOUR CHILD OUT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
I took and take Niam out as much as possible. I exposed him to friends, parties, sports, restaurants and, whatever I could think of, I never stopped trying something new. I always thought not matter how hard it is, I have to expose my son, or how will he learn. It is hard, but don't give up. I am reaping the benefits now.
9. LEARN SARCASM OR OTHER WORDS NOT PERMITTED IN THIS BLOG
I listened to many rude people who told me I was a bad mother, I need to discipline my child, he has no manners, he should be locked up ( no lie, I was told that) amongst others. Learn sarcasm, and if you loose your temper and use words not permitted on this blog, like I have, on some occasions, don't worry, its all okay, I have no apologies or regrets.
10. ACCEPT AND LOVE YOUR CHILD FOR WHO THEY ARE
I left this to the last, as I can not express how important it is to accept our child for all she/he has to offer, despite their challenges and disabilities. Embrace and love your child and, know they are struggling too and, need you. Once you can accept, life is easier, it is full and you will be content.
By Nina Jain
The Autism Speaks Canada blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks Canada’s beliefs or point of view.