Five Ways For Supporting Parents With Autistic Children

  • Be Inclusive
  • Don’t Judge
  • Understand Autism
  • Maintain Confidentiality
  • Advocate

There are ways to support parents of children with autism. Many people may want to support those with autism and their families, but are unsure how to go about it. It can be stressful worrying about giving offense, which is why many people, unfortunately, remain silent. These actions will be appreciated by both the parents and the children alike.

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Be Inclusive

Being inclusive is an important part of being an ally to minorities of all types. The same is true for autism. Invite the parent and their child to activities and encourage them to participate. It’s important to distinguish between being inclusive and tokenism. No one should invite autistic children to parties just because they want to be seen as “brave” or “inspirational.” Autistic people are not charity cases or items and don’t like to feel as such. Instead, connect with them and their parents genuinely and honestly. Teach children to be understanding of the issues their peers have. If the parent is inclusive, their children are likely to be more inclusive towards autistic friends as well.

Don’t Judge

It’s hard enough being a parent. It’s even harder being a parent to a child with autism. Do not judge a parent for any perceived lack of control over their children or how they choose to raise their autistic child. They are likely struggling and just as frustrated as an observer may be. It’s also important not to write off autistic children as “stupid,” because they are not. In fact, there are certain tasks autistic children exceed at, such as solving complex problems, recognizing patterns and finding irregularities, among others.

Understand Autism

The most important step to supporting parents who have autistic children is to learn about autism and understand it. Autism manifests itself in different ways. For example, Asperger’s is a form of high-functioning autism where the child may otherwise appear normal but has issues with social cues. There is much misinformation about autism out there, such as the disproven link to vaccines. The Center for Disease Control clarifies that this is a debunked claim. Obtain all information about autism from reputable sources, including scientific journals, major newspapers, and autism advocacy groups.

Maintain Confidentiality

Parents may sometimes choose to confide in those they feel are close friends. However, that does not give permission for someone to spread private information about a parent’s struggles with their autistic child. Parents of autistic children can be supported by keeping everything they say confidential unless otherwise stated. In some cases, breaking confidentiality might not only be rude but also harmful. This can include the loss of opportunities because of the disclosure of private medical information. Respect both the parent’s and the child’s right to privacy.

Advocate

Parents and children who are living with autism face significant stigma in everyday life. There is not always legislation to protect them or their rights. Others can be supportive by advocating for the rights of autistic people in different ways. This can include politically or simply in everyday life when discrimination is encountered. Help parents by speaking up on behalf of them and their children. It is a gesture that won’t soon be forgotten.

Parents with autistic children face unique and heartbreaking challenges. This is why it’s important for everyone to become an ally and support both autistic youth and their parents. Use these methods to support parents of children with autism.

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