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Eight Signs That You’re a Terrific Autism Parent

Posted by on Sep. 22, 2013 at 9:26 PM
  • 34 Replies
9 moms liked this

Eight Signs That You’re a Terrific Autism Parent

By , About.com Guide

Created September 22, 2013

There are a zillion handbooks for parents – even for parents with autistic children – but no handbook can answer a parent’s persistent questions about their own individual situation. Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Should I be doing that differently? Why is my child having such a tough time – is it my fault?

When you’re a parent with an autistic child, all those questions multiply, both in number and in intensity. Did I choose the right therapies? Did something I did or didn’t do cause my child’s disability? Am I doing enough (or too much) to help him/her develop new schools, engage with peers, take part in life? Am I pushing too hard, or not hard enough? And what about…???

Sometimes, though, it’s nice to hear “you’re doing a good job.” How do you know? Here are some signs that your parenting is just great!

1. Your Child with Autism is Progressing

Kids with autism may take a very long time to learn skills that other kids learn quickly. That’s just reality. But if your child with autism is moving forward, even at a snail’s pace, it’s likely that you’ve found a combination of therapies, people, and settings that are positive and helpful. Well done!

2. Your Children WITHOUT Autism are Progressing

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in autism that you neglect the signs that other siblings are having difficulties. But of course every child needs a parent’s attention, support, and involvement. If your other children are progressing, even with some normal ups and downs, it’s likely you’ve found the time and energy to attend to their needs, listen to their concerns, and respond. Nice work!

3. You Have Solid Adult Relationships

How does having adult relationships help your child with autism? Without outside connections, you have no opportunity to replenish your emotional well. Your ability to vent, have fun, and feel engaged in the world means you’ll have the energy and patience to be there for your child with autism, even when he or she is having a tough time. If you’re finding the support you need. Congratulations!

4. You Are Not Making Decisions for Your Child Based on Desperation or Panic

Should I spend my other children's college funds on risky, unproven therapies that -- who knows? -- just might work? Could my child benefit from the high-priced and controversial therapist I heard about in the ladies' room at the local autism conference? It's easy to get carried away by others' enthusiasm for a particular therapy, therapist, school, or program, especially when you are feeling panicky or desperate about your child's autism. But when you make choices based not on reason or logic but on desperation or panic, you are likely to make the wrong decisions. If you’ve avoided that pitfall, good job!

5. You Recognize and Celebrate Your Autistic Child’s Abilities and Achievements

It’s easy for parents of children with autism to get wrapped up in their child’s challenges and deficits. After all, the entire American system of special education and disability care is focused on challenges and deficits. It takes a strong parent to take time away from those concerns to notice, delight in, and celebrate an autistic child’s abilities and achievements – especially when your child is not a “savant” whose abilities amaze others. If you noticed and praised your child for asking a question, waiting patiently, responding appropriately, or otherwise doing something that is difficult for him, you’re doing a great job.

6. You Keep the Bar High

Autistic children often get a “pass” when it comes to high expectations. All too often, when a child with autism does not do his or her best, the response is “oh, well, that’s okay. He’s autistic.” This attitude means that many children with autism are not challenged to do their best – and as a result, they fail to reach their potential. It’s easy to fall back on lower expectations, and to do things for your child rather than do the very hard work of teaching skills and discipline. If you’re keeping the bar high, and seeing your child achieve at her real level of ability, you’re doing a wonderful job.

7. You Have Fun with Your Autistic Child

It’s not always easy to find fun activities in common with an autistic child. Kids with autism may not do the things you’re used to doing – playing ball, going to loud concerts, hanging out with groups of friends. They may not even have the language skills to converse. So it takes work to find activities that you and your autistic child can enjoy together. You may need to discover a new interest in trains, comic book heroes, legos, or chase games. You may even need to initiate every interaction. If you’re having at least a little bit of fun with your autistic child, and building emotional bonds, it’s wonderful!

8. You’re Thinking Ahead for and with Your Autistic Child

All too many parents focus on their child’s here and now, without giving much thought to the future. Schools provide parents as well as students with structure, meetings, goals, and programs – and some parents assume that that level of support will continue indefinitely. As a result, their children with autism wind up, at age 22, without the supports and direction they need. All too many autistic people finish school without a vocation or a plan for their adult years, and all too many parents wonder what to do next. If you’ve done some research and planning for your child’s adult years, you’re ahead of the game. Good work!
by on Sep. 22, 2013 at 9:26 PM
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Replies (1-10):
Jenibob
by Bronze Member on Sep. 22, 2013 at 9:40 PM
1 mom liked this

Good information, I like it, especially #5.

mypbandj
by Jen on Sep. 22, 2013 at 9:43 PM
2 moms liked this

dancing
yay! I'm terrific!!


Momof4AEMW
by Silver Member on Sep. 22, 2013 at 9:52 PM

I'm pretty solid, but need to improve on #3.  I'm stuck somewhere between our old life's friendships and what our new life will be in terms of adult relationships.  Not everyone's been able to make the cut through 5 years of special needs triplets.  It's been a good weed out period, but I'm pretty protective and cautious at adding in new relationships and certainly have not been adding in at the same rate of deleting.  If they can't see my kids for who they are and not their disability, then they don't make the cut.

SamMom912
by Gold Member on Sep. 22, 2013 at 10:23 PM
1 mom liked this

Interesting. 

I struggle with number 6. I have not figured out where to put that bar yet... i odnt want to put undue pressure on him (he has anxiety issues) and I dont want him to struggle with trying to please anyone but himself.. But he has such low self esteem.. That its a huge struggle to figure out where that bar should be on a given day... 

Even buckling his seat belt... Hebis 7, some days he cant get his hands to work and he will freak out that he cant do it... Using the spoon to eat yogurt,, again, freak out when he drops drips on himself. These are NO BIG deal to me,, but, its hard to set that bar at doing these things on his own... Watching him get upset continually, ( especially in the moring on his way to school!!)! When Im doing my best to keep him happy, positive, flexible, good.... In order to start the day on a good note... Sigh... 


wildchild.com
by Janine on Sep. 22, 2013 at 10:43 PM
I'm going start working on #8...its what I fear the most his future adult years. I'm hoping he'll be independent but I don't think our citys highschool is going to cut it. Maybe a voc. school. Other than that hey I'm a great autistic mama :-)
Stephanie88B
by Member on Sep. 22, 2013 at 11:20 PM
6 moms liked this

I personally dont agree with this being representative of "good parents" sorry but this one rubs me the wrong way.  I don't think its exactly uplifting for me and as you can some of the ladies need work on certain number or are missing certain numbers and I AM POSTIVE that MOST if not ALL of them are great moms.. Just my opinion and we are all entitled to one!

KatyTylersMom
by Silver Member on Sep. 23, 2013 at 2:03 AM
4 moms liked this

I think I'd prefer this much more if it were worded as "8 goals for parents of autistic children" because really we all are works in progress as much as if not more than our kids and it's always good to have goals for ourselves. 

But even then I can say honestly that at least two of the items on this list can kiss my ass.  #1 - When my son is in a rut and not making progress I feel like I'm failing him and whether his "slump" be for a week or a month or more it's a really hard time.  So bullet point number 1 can pretty much eat me because despite doing everything we can think of some kids are not going to progress at times.  They may in fact REgress at times.  And at those times I really don't think any of us need a bullet point on a "good autism mom" list telling us we're failing like it's icing on the cake of our already huge failure party because our kid isn't doing well right this instant. 

And then number 4... ah the "don't make decisions when you're desperate or panicked" - well sorry folks but I'm pretty sure my "decision making time" ended about 2 years ago then so please try back in another 20 years and maybe I'll be capable?  Probably not though.  I mean really - I myself feel desperate or panicked about my kids' past, present, and future at least once a day if not once an hour or once a minute depending on how the day is going.  It's not always that mind-blowing, curled-up-in-a-corner, eating-all-the-icecream, foraging-through-all-the-google-searches-for-autism-related-articles kind of panic and desperation but it's always there in the back of my mind and sitting right on top of my heart.  I think what this bullet point was TRYING to say was "thoroughly research, discuss, and carefully weigh the potential risks vs. benefits, as well as financial ramifications of any therapy or treatment you are interested in pursuing for your child".  Because that is a reasonable "be a good, responsible parent" kind of thing to suggest that someone do.  And know that with autism, what works for one kid might not work for yours but that doesn't mean that you made a stupid or bad decision for trying something so long as you did your homework, made sure it posed no significant risk of harm to your child, and you can still make rent/pay your mortgage:). 

johnns
by Johnna on Sep. 23, 2013 at 6:06 AM
Great read- I needed that!
johnns
by Johnna on Sep. 23, 2013 at 6:13 AM
It was meant to be - 'your not as bad as you thought you were' kind of thing. Unfortunately, we don't get a lot of feedback, as ASD parents we often 2nd guess ourselves. But by reading this, most of us are doing these things and don't realize it- which translates
" hey, your doing better than you thought you were", kind of thing.
I liked it- kind of 'check the list'- if your doing these things your on the right track. I seem to be on track- so I'm going with it! Lol


Quoting Stephanie88B:

I personally dont agree with this being representative of "good parents" sorry but this one rubs me the wrong way.  I don't think its exactly uplifting for me and as you can some of the ladies need work on certain number or are missing certain numbers and I AM POSTIVE that MOST if not ALL of them are great moms.. Just my opinion and we are all entitled to one!


Ajisai43
by Bronze Member on Sep. 23, 2013 at 8:01 AM
1 mom liked this

Wowza, great timing on posting this.  I needed a bit of a pick me up and was happy to see that I am already doing the things on the list though I do struggle mightily at times . . .  I think most all autism parents are doing the best they can with what they have, there are up and downs, and not every day will have us it hitting all eight points there.  But it is good to be reminded of what we are doing on a daily basis whether we realize it or not, and to mention things we may want to focus more on in terms of what our kiddos need at the moment.  Had anyone suddenly asked me what I was doing for my son I probably wouldn't have been able to articulate all that I do in the course of a day, week, or month with him so I like having something in print!

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