Thursday, June 13, 2024

What To Say To Parents With An Autistic Child

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Are You Sure She Looks So Normal

10 things NOT to say to Parents of kids with Autism

So what does an autistic person look like? Much like people with asthma, crohns, or anxiety, people with autism spectrum disorder dont all look the same, or exhibit the same behaviours. Quite honestly my ASD girl is way better than societies normal. Aside from being beautiful, she is intelligent and hugely sociable. Shes quirky and quite fascinating . Her resilience has been tested, but her determination and drive is second to none and really is quite enviable. Commenting my daughter looks normal might be intended as a compliment, but in reality it is a kick in the teeth for every other ASD person that might fulfil your ASD stereotype.

Do Offer Support For Grieving

After the diagnosis is received, there is a period of grieving. Parents grieve for what may never be. Parents feel overwhelmed at the amount of decisions that must be made immediately in order to help their child.

  • At this time, offer your support. You can say, I feel for you. I cant imagine what you must be going through.
  • Ask how you can be of help. I was very depressed after my sons diagnosis and needed help looking after my infant daughter and help with housework.
  • If you are over at the home, look around and see what needs to be done and offer to lend a hand. If the dishes are piled up in the sink, do them. Mow the grass, do the grocery shopping.
  • Parents in shock dont always know how to ask for help so keep your eyes open and see what needs to be done.

Jacqui Says You Have To Fight For Whatever Your Child Needs Nothing Is Given To You Very Easily

Some parents emphasised that it was important to remember that you know your child better than most other people. Parents recommended keeping lines of communication open with education and health professionals because often walls can go up between parents and professionals. As one parent said: I would say go with what you feel is right for your child because as I say, there are a lot of experts and there are all these interventions but at the end of the day, you have to feel comfortable with what you are doing. Another parent recommended:

An important part of the early days following diagnosis is to sort out the ones who can help you. I think a lot of people want to give you cups of tea and sympathy but despite credentials, may not know how to help your child. It is important to find professionals who have a track record of helping children like yours.


Some parents stressed how there is light at the end of the tunnel and things did get easier. As one parent said the autism spectrum is not stagnant and the children do not stay the same .

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Explain How The Diagnosis Will Help Your Child

People often worry that having a diagnosis will negatively label a child, making people think shes weird and hurting her opportunities and her self-esteem. In fact the opposite is often true. It can be a relief to know that a childs struggles have a name and are actually pretty well understood and not that unusual.

Having a diagnosis also means that your family is eligible for therapies and services, which can be transformative.

But Your Child Looks So Normal

What You Shouldn

I understand that this common misconception probably comes from mistaking autism for another disability, such as Down Syndrome, and in fact you probably mean it as a compliment. What it comes across as, is, Wow, Johnny sure doesnt look like a freak! . Instead of committing this faux pas, you can just pick out something that you think Johnny does well, or that you like his bright blue eyes, or really, anything. Just like you would those normal kids.

Instead, say: Literally any compliment. Just like you would any other child.

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Be Respectful Of How You Bring God Into It

I was raised in a Catholic home and worked in a Catholic school. Some of the phrases I heard after my childrens diagnosis were, God wouldnt give you what you couldnt handle. God must think youre special. After my second child was diagnosed, somebody actually said to me, God must want you to learn a very special lesson. My reply was, I must be pretty stupid since I have to do it twice. People were trying to be helpful, but comments like these made me feel worse.

Nobody knows what Gods plan is for any of us so its best not to second-guess. I experienced intense feelings of anger when both children were first diagnosed because I felt having two children with autism wasnt fair. If you are a religious person, offer a prayer on the parents behalf asking God to grant them patience and strength. The wisdom of autism takes time to be realized. Dont push Gods messages.

Please Be Patient With My Child

Children on the Autism Spectrum often have a slew of sensory issues and meltdowns in common. Because no one would expect a family with autistic children to stay home all hours of the day, these meltdowns often happen in stores, at parks, and in other public places. Parents of children on the Autism Spectrum simply want others to understand that these meltdowns are not brought on by bad behavior, and to please remain patient with both the parents and the child. Rolling your eyes or mumbling snide comments are not helpful. It will not change the immediate situation and can even add further stress to both parent and child.

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Pay As Much Attention To Your Other Children As You Do Your Special Needs Child

This might seem strange to mention. We know you love all your kids equally. But special needs are exactly that. By their very nature, children with have a diagnosis will have extra needs, drawing added attention from both parents. To ensure all family members feel secure and loved, it is important to plan independent outings or moments with your other kids. Giving them your entire focus and full attention will help keep your home harmonious and siblings less resentful.

Often Times After I Throw My Curveball Into The Conversation The Response I Get In Return Is Complete Silence

What Not To Say To Autism Parents

After the silence, sometimes a polite nod, however most often what I see next is a look of shock on the persons face. A look of, oh crap, she just said her kid has autism and I have no idea what I am supposed to say next.

I get it. I have been in more than a couple of conversations where I didnt know what to say and I didnt want to hurt the other persons feelings, or say anything taboo, or look like a complete jerk, so I just didnt say anything at all.

However, this silence doesnt just happen with strangers that I meet on the playground, it also happens with my friends and family. It seems like people just dont want to say the wrong thing, so they just dont say anything at all. Once again, I get it. You see an article or Facebook post regarding all the rules around talking about autism. Use people first language , dont mention Rain Man, or vaccines. You get confused about what you are supposed to say or not to say, so you follow your moms advice and you dont say anything at all.

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I Dont Know How You Do It

Im not a saint I am a parent! This backhanded compliment is much like God doesnt give you what you cant handle or Everything happens for the best. While they might think they mean well what they are doing is minimising your experience by saying that this is a situation you should be able to manage. What we have is a tough job and the persistent hope we can keep doing the best we can.

Autism Parents Do Seem So Keen On Labelling Their Children

I have fought hard to get a formal diagnosis for my daughter. This diagnosis has been the springboard for so many new opportunities. Its given her the best opportunity to fully understand herself and her quirks. Vocabulary to explain what shes experiencing and how she feels. To develop strategies to help her in the moment, and on her journey into adulthood. Its given her a community of other neurodiverse teenagers that like and accept and like her for who she is. A diagnosis has given us leverage to insist on an education that she can access and that has subsequently enabled her to thrive. Diagnoses are not weights to drag children down theyre rocket boosters to empower children and their families to push forward and grow.

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How Can I Help Your Child

This one is so huge, I cant explain it enough. Whether youre a teacher, a volunteer in the church nursery, a friend of the family, or just a parent of a kid in the same class, this question will make you an autism mamas best friend.

But it comes with a rule. If you ask, you have to actually make an effort to help. Please dont ask for ways to help my child, and then ignore them all as soon as Im out of the room. Now, I know, youre probably not specifically trained in autism or special needs, but anyone can help a child with autism.

Whether that means explaining things to them a certain way, offering foods that they can actually eat, or even just talking with your child about why my son doesnt do things the same way others do. Its also really important to get these tips from the parents.

My son has to handle transitions using first this, then that, but a friends son has to have a clock time that something will happen. Again, all children with autism are different, so just ask the parents!

I Didnt Think Your Child Would Be Comfortable At Our Birthday Party

What You Shouldn

This comment always comes after your child has been left out of a party, or an event they would have enjoyed if some simple accommodations had been made. By doing this, you as a parent have excluded my child and are telling me that you dont think they want any friends or social interaction. When you exclude a child with autism from your next party ask yourself this: Whose comfort are you really worried about?

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She Just Needs Some More Socialization

Socialization is a touchy subject for many autism parents. Although they know the importance of being around others, it can be heartbreaking to witness a child with autism struggle to socialize. Its just not as simple as giving him or her more opportunities to do so. Hess says that people with autism typically enter into social groups led by therapists. These groups give social opportunities while allowing the therapist and other participants to guide people in picking up on important social cues and use proper social techniques within a group. Its all about giving those on the spectrum opportunities for navigating social scenarios, but doing so at their own pace so as not to overwhelm them by triggering anxiety. Read what its like to live with crippling anxiety.

Heres what to say instead: I can tell she has a hard time in social situations. What can I do to make it easier for her?

Autism Causes The Brain To Process Things Differently

Children on the Autism Spectrum process differently things others often take for granted. Crowds, loud noises, and bright or blinking lights, among countless other things, can often lead to extreme anxiety or a total meltdown on the part of the child. As one parent of an autistic child stated, If you are in a supermarket and your child is getting overwhelmed and maybe making a scene, it makes it ten times worse when people around you are giving you dirty looks or making comments.

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How Do I Handle The Stress Of Raising A Child With Autism

Many features of autismtantrums, aggression, language deficits, limited family opportunities, and the inability to gain independencecontribute to the deep and distinct distress that many caregivers experience.

Parents can struggle with grief, sadness, anger, and hopelessness. They may fear for their safety and the safety of their children. Constantly navigating health care systems and insurance companies requires immense time, energy, and money, leading to exhaustion and financial pressures.

To navigate these challenges, parents should research and access any and all services available to them. They can lean heavily on family and friends for support. If caregivers begin to suffer from anxiety or depression, they should seek professional help. Finding a support group near you is invaluable, as its members can provide understanding, emotional strength, and crucial information.

Always Invite The Mom Out To Parties And Functions Even Though She Will Likely Decline

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An autism mom will often face many years of isolation, and the worst possible thing to do is to not invite her to family functions like birthday parties. There is a good chance she will decline because she will not know how her child will react to the environment since many children on the autism spectrum have sensory disorders.

However, she will appreciate the invitation as it will be validation to her that her friends are not shutting her out due to her stressful situation. If she accepts the offer, then ask her what kind of accommodations can be made for her child and implement them.

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Encourage The Mom To Seek Support From Educational And Social Services

An autism mom is guaranteed to vent about the stressors she deals with on a daily basis. One of the best responses to the stressed-out mom is to encourage her to seek help from social and educational services. She may already know to do this and just hasn’t had a chance to actually look for the resources, but sending her a reminder is a great thing to do.

A friend who wants to be helpful can look for the resources that can help the mom in question and send it her way. She may not have a chance to do this herself for a long time.

Do Autistic Parents Have Autistic Children

This would be a highly unusual situation to begin with. Although high functioning children with autism or Aspergers can grow to adulthood and lead fairly normal lives, their social limitations makes it difficult to find a mate, but not impossible. In the event that two adults with autism were to marry and have children, well, there really arent any statistics out on that subject at the moment.

As to whether or not autistic parents have autistic children, that is also difficult to answer because there does seem to be some genetic link. Enough research has not been completed to prove or deny that autism does have a genetic link, and therein lays the problem. It would seem that children born to parents with autism would have an increased rate of developing the disorder, but without proof that autism is genetic, no one can say for sure.

A recent Dateline segment featured one such couple, and they were quite happy. He had the autism and only found out after a child of theirs was diagnosed, suggesting the link. She always knew there was something particularly different about him but didnt mind. It all worked out for them, and provided a case study for geneticists to look at at the same time.

You should be curious to know these questions and answers:

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He Cant Have Autism Because

As parents of a child with autism, trust us when we say that weve already gone down that road. Weve brought up all the points you are about to make, and yet Our child has autism. It was hard to accept, and sometimes its still a daily struggle. So even though you think you are offering hope or a second opinion, youre actually more of a 37th opinion, and youre making it that much harder for us to come to terms with the diagnosis. Instead, ask us about autism! We have a ton of knowledge!

Instead, say: Im new to autism, can you tell me more about it?

What We Want To Hear

What Not To Say To A Parent Of A Child With Autism ...

How can I help is a good start. Strangers curiosity also doesnt help as this list shows, so having someone there to champion our kids can mean a lot. As a parent of autistic kids, it can be stressful and overwhelming and often we want someone who is happy to listen to us! Let us tell you about our amazing, unique, talented, and wonderful children.

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You Cant Always See Autism

There is still a shocking amount of ignorance among the general population when it comes to the Autism Spectrum. Many people assume that children with autism have certain identifiable facial features or particular habits. But as it has already has been mentioned, every single person with autism is different and mild cases of autism are common. These stereotypes and lack of understanding often make things difficult for parents. Its especially hard in the case of schools, coaches, or other organizations who deny a diagnosis because it is not easily seen.

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