Having a child with autism requires taking a proactive approach to learning about treatment while closely working with others involved in your child’s care. While every parent agrees that taking care of your child is top priority, it is also important that you take care of yourself so that you are able to face the many challenges of having a child with autism.
Parent and family education about the condition has been shown to reduce family stress and improve a child’s functioning. Understanding the condition and knowing what to expect is an important part of helping your child develop independence. Ask your doctors or autism groups to find out more on how to manage symptoms or simply do your research online.
Become informed about your child’s educational rights. Federal laws require services for handicapped children, including those with autism. Find out what services are available in your area, as there are different laws for different states as well as local laws and policies.
Learning about autism, now, will help you to prepare for when your child reaches adulthood. While some adults can live by themselves, work, and be as independent as other people their age, some need continued support.
Work closely with your child’s autism treatment team
Close communication with others involved in your child’s education and care will help if you are ever concerned about something. The best treatment plan for your autistic child is a consistent, structured program in addition to everyone working together to set goals for:
- Identifying and managing symptoms of autism and any related conditions.
- Behavior and interactions with family and peers, adjustment to different environments, and social and communication skills.
It is important for everyone in your child’s autism treatment team to take the time to listen to your concerns, and see that they are willing to work with you, as you are involved in your child’s care too.
Take care of yourself!
Learn techniques on how to handle the normal range of emotions, fears, and concerns that go along with raising a child who has autism. Daily and long term challenges put you and other children at a higher risk for depression or stress related illnesses. The way that you handle these issues can directly influence other family members.
Some ways that you can handle these ranges of emotions are:
- Get involved in a hobby, visit with friends, and learn ways to relax.
- Seek and accept support from others. Try support groups, or consider respite care which gives you a much needed break to regroup and reenergize yourself.
- Talk with your doctor to see if counseling would be a good option for you or any other person in your family that is having trouble handling the strains of having a family member with autism.