Parents of children with autism typically experience more severe and more persistent stress than other parents. In fact, researchers have discovered that mothers of children with autism display a level of chronic stress that is comparable to that of combat soldiers. It’s important for parents to be proactive about their well-being, just as they would for their children’s health. One way to actively manage stress is to develop a plan to deal with the challenges associated with autism. An autism therapist can help parents develop this plan and offer guidance for addressing challenges across multiple settings.
Find Some Time for Yourself
After developing a plan to handle your child’s autism-related challenges, evaluate your schedule to find some time for yourself. You might meet a friend for coffee while your child is in school, for example. While on your lunch break at work, you might walk over to a nearby park to enjoy nature.
Work with Qualified Babysitters
It can be challenging for parents to introduce new babysitters to a child with autism. To find a babysitter with the necessary experience, you can ask other parents of kids with autism for referrals. Then, introduce the babysitter gradually. Have the babysitter tag along with you and your child during your daily routine. Your child will have the chance to get to know the babysitter better and the babysitter can have a chance to get to know your child’s unique needs.
Join a Support Group
Once you’ve found a suitable babysitter for your child, you might consider taking the time to join a local support group for parents affected by autism. Being surrounded by other people who are dealing with similar issues can be a source of comfort.
Consult a Counselor
If you’re still struggling with your stress, you may wish to consult your doctor or a mental health counselor. Professional counseling offers the opportunity to openly share your concerns and to actively work through them.
With parent training courses available at The Behavior Exchange , families can become empowered to help their children and improve the overall family dynamic. Our autism specialists also provide behavior classes for children with autism, which use the evidence-based principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. To request more information, call our office near Dallas at (214) 556-3947.
Life is often a balancing act for parents, particularly those of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). When it’s time to discuss your child’s autism diagnosis with him or her, it can be difficult to know how to explain the challenges of autism while still preserving his or her self-esteem. It may also sometimes be tricky to prevent a child from using an autism diagnosis as an excuse for every poor grade or instance of inappropriate behavior. Consider using the following tips to empower your child while providing him or her with information about the diagnosis.
Deciding When to Discuss the Diagnosis
It may be time to discuss the autism diagnosis with your child when they begin to question their challenges and differences. Your child might ask why he or she must go to group or one-on-one therapy sessions, or why they have various difficulties.
Developing a List of Strengths and Challenges
Before having the discussion with your child, it can be helpful to develop a list of your child’s strengths and challenges. Try to think of specific things your child does well, such as their kindness toward animals, aptitude for fractions, and helpfulness in the kitchen. To help your child maintain self-esteem, try to be a little less specific about their challenges. He or she might need extra help making friends, for example.
Using Child-Friendly Language
When you tell your child that he or she has autism, it may be best to avoid explaining that it’s a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects multiple areas of functioning. Instead, talk about how it makes your child unique. Emphasize your child’s strengths. Mention your child’s challenges, talk about how everyone has challenges of their own, and praise your child for working hard to improve them.
The autism specialists at The Behavior Exchange have been honored to work closely with families in the Dallas area for about two decades. Our behavior classes, parent training classes, and school consulting services have helped countless families of children with autism spectrum disorders, developmental delays, behavioral challenges, and other special needs. If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our autism specialists to discuss your child’s needs, please call (214) 556-3947.
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