Autism Parents: Understanding Parents of Kids with Autism
The Amazing Parents of Kids with Autism
I am isolated.
I am unsure.
I am overlooked.
I am judged.
I am the parent of a child with autism.
It is not just my child who is struggling; I, too, am struggling. I live in a prison of my own creation and it is not because I have a child with autism. It is because I do not know how to handle having a child with autism.
Understand Parents of Autistic Children:
I am isolated because I do not know how to handle my child’s meltdowns, therefore I stay home and avoid people and places that bring me joy. I wish other people knew how lonely I am.
I am unsure about every decision I make regarding my child, because every decision feels overwhelming and confusing to me. I wish I felt confident in my choices and in my child’s future.
I am overlooked because every moment is dedicated to my child’s special needs and not my own; I feel exhausted and drained every single day. I wish I felt like my needs were as important as my child’s.
I am judged, mostly by myself, but also by others. I see the nasty looks and I hear the ignorant comments of those around me who don’t understand why my child acts the way she does. I wish I felt like my child was accepted in this world.
Support Autism Parents
How to help Autism parents:
- Spend time together on their terms:
Some parents dealing with autism feel isolated because they are afraid to take their child out in public. Schedule activities or get-togethers some place that is comfortable for the parents and their child, even if it is at their home. Bring the fun to them if they can’t go out by doing a movie night or game night in the comfort of their own home.
- Offer to listen and be supportive:
There are so many options when it comes to therapies and educational resources that parents often question their decisions and feel unsure about their child’s future. Being supportive and listening to their concerns and fears will help them feel more confident in their choices (even if you still don’t understand what an IEP or BIP is!).
- Remind them that they have value:
Parents of children with autism can get so focused on their child that they neglect themselves and end up feeling overlooked and under appreciated. A special note or phone call to remind them that they are valued and important is all it takes to make someone feel loved and cared for.
- Love unconditionally:
Raising any child is hard, but raising a child with autism is especially tough. Many parents feel judged by others and end up feeling like a failure (usually while their child is having a meltdown in the middle of Target). Having that one person there to offer support and love, no matter what, can be the saving grace for a parent who only gets judgmental looks from everyone else.
Help Parents of Children with Autism
As the parent of an adult child with autism, I have seen my share of struggles over the years and I have felt every single one of the feelings above. People often describe persons with autism as “living in a world of their own”, but what about the parents who are also stuck in that world with them? Chances are that you know someone who has a child, or family member, with autism. This April for Autism Awareness Month, what if you reached out to them and offered your support? While we still do not know what causes autism, we do know what causes loneliness, depression, uncertainty, and fear. Let us bring healing and hope to these families so that, through them, their child will flourish and grow to his or her deepest potential.
Tiffany Miller, Mom of an Amazing Daughter with Autism & iFamilyKC Team Member