Starting The ‘autistic’ Journey?
Your child has been diagnosed as ‘autistic’ or you just figured out he may be on the spectrum or you are now just accepting and embracing the diagnosis. Maybe your child was diagnosed in childhood. Maybe you have always known. Maybe you never even thought until this very second that your child could be autistic. There are so many different variables to autism.
Here are 10 things I would like you to know:
1. Your child is neither a burden on the family nor is he broken. He is more than a puzzle piece. The world would absolutely not be better off without him.
2. Your child’s voice deserves to be heard. It doesn’t matter if he is verbal or nonverbal. He has a voice. It’s just a matter of people choosing to listen to it. It doesn’t matter if he talks with hands, with vocal chords or with augmentative and alternative communication. No matter how your child talks, that voice is beautiful and has value. Don’t let the world silence your child because he doesn’t meet their cookie-cutter mold of how he should be.
3. Your child’s stemming (self-stimulating) is a part of what makes him who he is. Let your child flap his hands or take his stuffed animals places with him. Allow him to comfort himself in public. Let your child have things to calm and help him communicate.
4. Your child is not a lesser of a person or have less worth because he simply gets overwhelmed. The world is scary for him with too many sounds, smells and things touching him completely overwhelm him. He will meltdown be it at home or in public because he is trying to pull himself from that world and take care of himself. Don’t let it get too extreme where he is damaging his mental health. Letting people know your child has autism is alright as long as it doesn’t put him in acute danger.
5. Your child’s aversion or extreme food selectivity simply means he is a super taster or super smeller. This heightened sensitivity to smell, texture and taste is difficult for your child to cope with. Try making meal times fun and not stressful.
6. Your child’s own comforting routines are vital; like listening to the same song, watching the same movies, playing the same video game or reading the same book over and over. For autistics, routine is valuable. Work with strict routine or loose routine all together, whichever best suits your child. Remember to warn when transitioning through changes.
7. Your child will have special interests that you should let them embrace. The things he fully throws himself into, whatever it may be. Marvel at the obscure facts he knows or his childish interest in movies, shows, books and games as long as they enjoy it, who is anyone to judge him?
8. You child may be socially awkward. He may not know how to start or stop talking with someone or may just wander off awkwardly online or in real life. He may not know how to make friends. Believe me when I say that someday, he will find those friends. It may take some time and it may be a difficult road, but it will happen.
9. Your child may need a safe person, be it a friend, a family member or a care person, to go places with him. He is scared and it is okay to do whatever you need to do to keep him safe and happy.
10. Your child does not lack empathy; In fact, I’ve found some autistics very empathetic. Some feel empathy so deeply that they often need to just shut themselves off. It’s not that they don’t feel it. It’s that they feel it too much.
You may also like: #NoMatterWhat -I Conquered Autism