Thursday, June 4, 2015

Parenting Advice Tips from Autism Adults

1.  Understand that your children are not you.

“Ethnocentrism is judging another culture solely by the values and standards of one’s own culture.”
As a parent, if I’m not aware of the values and standards of the autism community, I can expect that my child turn out to be a little carbon copy of me.
It’s like the high school jock who grows up, has an artistic son, and expects that son to be a professional baseball player.
Pushing our children to be who they are not can only result in discouragement and disappointment

2.  Understand their sensory issues.

Aspeger Experts explain this far better than I can, so check out the following video:
Also check out Cynthia Kim’s series of articles about sensory processing.

3.  Be open to the fact that you can learn as much from your child as s/he can learn from you.

If you adopt a humble and open attitude toward your children, you’ll find them returning respect to you.
In my article, “What My Son Has Taught Me About Autism and Parenting”, I share my own journey.
I hope you’ll be open to learning from your child as well.

4.  Be aware of the positive characteristics of the autism spectrum

In her article, 10 Positive Traits of Asperger’s, Seventh writes about AS people being honest, living in the moment, seldom judging others, passionate, not tied to social expectations, having good memories, tending not to be materialistic, having few hidden agendas, and teaching life lessons to neurotypicals.
You can read about more positive autism characteristics here and here.

5.  Believe in their abilities

Study their special interests and their strengths.
Honor their special interests by learning about them.  Let them teach you about them.
As you honor their interests, they will then be open to learning about yours.
Give them opportunities to develop their abilities.  If they’re great at art, enroll them in art classes.  If they are musically talented, enroll them in a music class.
And so on….

6.  Go to work on yourself

It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself. ~Joyce Maynard
As you and I work on personal growth, we become more self aware, and more responsible for our own strengths and weaknesses.  As we grow, we will strive to increase our knowledge about autism and aboutparenting.  And as we become better people and parents, our children will benefit from our efforts.

7.  Affirm your child as a person

Always aim to ‘see’ the person/child first, whilst respectfully acknowledging the additional perspective of our being; being Autism, Aspergers or other differing ability/ies. For we will or do wish for others to see us as an individual and not seen only for our differing ability. —Louise Page

8.  Take responsibility for your child’s development.

For parents the first thing is not the most important, but it is absolutely essential. Parents must accept direct responsibility for their child’s development. It cannot be left to the school system or one hour weekly visits to a therapist.  
Knowledge and understanding must follow, but there is no “start” without this commitment.

9.  Remember that communication comes in many forms.

As far as basic communication. Being able to relate to anyone including family. Can and usually is difficult for many on the spectrum. If one discovers what ones child enjoys or excels in, or even just does a lot. Then an opportunity for the child to have something to relate to with a parent. For example I studied things for hours looking and staring every angle. One day I was given pencil and paper I knew a drawing was wanted. A relative connection was formed. Communication comes in many forms.  -Anonymous

10.  Control your emotions during a meltdown.

Regarding meltdowns: Before responding (unless there is an immediate safety risk) get your own emotions under control. Instead of demanding explanations and promises that it will never happen again, say something like “I see you broke the lamp. Let’s talk about what happened.”
A calm discussion will help the child understand what happened. Demanding promises only magnifies the shame when the next meltdown occurs. Consequences should be related to the incident, like helping to repair or pay for the damage… not arbitrary like confinement or extra chores.
Learning to take responsibility for one’s actions in a supportive and non-shaming environment is much more beneficial than receiving punishment.

11.  Set Goals While Being Aware of Boundaries

Push them, but beware of their boundaries. If they are allowed to stay in their comfort zone, they do not grow.
Also, remember the ultimate goal is to nurture a child into a self-sustaining adult. Let them fail, and be aware of it, and call them out when you know they aren’t doing their best, its a hard lesson when they hit the real world without their parents’ goggles.  

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