Words By: Jillian Trevarthen
Discovering that your child has autism can be a very scary and overwhelming thing to deal with. Thankfully, there is an incredibly large and interconnected community of support that is here to help you. So with that, here are three important things we think you should know as you begin this journey.
1. Autism is a spectrum, and no two developmental processes are the same.
Just as not all early symptoms show up in all children with autism, not all aspects of autism may apply to your child’s life, growth and development. However, as a parent, it is important to be aware of all possibilities. Wherever your child falls on the spectrum, they will have certain levels of difficulty dealing with communication, sensory stimulation, social interaction. They may attach to specific interests, routines, and hobbies, and straying away from those things may result in frustration. Regardless of their habits and place on the spectrum, all children with autism need some form of support, which is why understanding autism and how to manage it is a crucial part of the parental role.
2. Children with autism do love their families, although it can be hard for them to show it.
Finding out your child has autism definitely stirs up some strong emotions, especially in knowing that your child will struggle to show emotions themselves. As a parent of a child with autism, it may feel disheartening to watch your them struggle to develop certain connections with others, especially you and your family. However, it is crucial that parents understand that just because your child may not be able to show love in a traditional sense, they do love you. Whether it be shown in a meaningful look, a sudden tolerance of touch or closeness, or in no apparent way at all, if you give them the care, support, and comfortability they need, your child will feel that love and in turn feel the same way.
3. Autism has both day-to-day and long-term challenges that you and your family should be aware of and prepared for.
The difficulty with communication, social interaction, and dealing with overwhelming sensory input will show up as struggles in both daily and long-term life. From a meltdown in the grocery store to interviewing for a job, autism is something that will have effects on all parts and stages of life, and it’s important for you as a parent to understand that as you and your child learn how to cope with these struggles together. Learning how to navigate life with autism by understanding certain triggers, adopting routines, and getting the resources you and your family need will significantly help facilitate your child’s success and your family’s overall growth and harmony.
Aside from these, the most important thing to know is that you are never alone in this process. There is a strong community that is here to welcome you and your family with open arms, and together, we can embrace autism and use it to make the most out of our lives. For additional support, follow us, learn more on our website, or pre-order our book launching later this spring!