Being a parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum is a massive, never-ending learning curve.
There are (less-than-)average days, good days and brilliant days — and then there are downright, awful, wish-it-wasn’t-you days. For me, the latter exist, but are increasingly few and far between.
On the not so good days, however, I think it pays to remember that whatever you are feeling and going through, it is worse for your child.
As parents we can forget this — and that’s alright … sometimes. It is ok to feel selfish and self-centred and miserable … as long as we pull ourselves out of it. We are all only human, after all.
One of the hardest things, as a parent (of any child, let alone a child with Autism/Asperger’s) is the building of the thick skin. There are many people out there who are quick to judge and/or offer their ‘advice’ (which can often be thinly disguised criticism). We need to learn to listen to all of this, but to not take it personally — or sometimes to totally disregard it.
Another thing we need to learn to do is to trust our own instincts. I know my child! I (often) know the difference between when the Asperger’s is speaking and when he is just playing me (and when he is just being a brat, because he can). Self doubt does not help anyone.
The other, and probably most important, thing we need to develop as parents is the ability to distinguish the ‘advice givers’ who know what they are talking about from those who ‘have no bloody idea at all’ but like to sound like they do.
With Autism, this can be difficult because nobody with Autism/Asperger’s is the same. What works for me may not work for you. (This is something I hope I manage to impart on this blog — I write about my own experiences, I am not saying they will be the same as yours.) This is where learning to trust our own instincts comes in … for me, I like to listen to and read about the experiences of other people, but I have to be the one to decide whether what they are saying applies in my own circumstances.
The other day, a blogger I follow wrote a post addressed to parents of recently diagnosed children. It was a brilliant post and one I wish I’d been privy to when Geordie was younger. I choose to follow this blogger because she writes honestly and from the heart. She also happens to have Autism and her posts give me insight and perspective.
In this particular post, we are given seven down-to-earth and succinct pieces of advice — from why we shouldn’t ‘grieve’ when we find out our child has Autism, through to never ‘assuming’ anything about behaviours and loving our children for who they are and what they can achieve at any particular point in time. If you are interested, you can read her post here. Remember though, none of us who blog on this subject claim to be experts — we are just sharing our experiences, more often than not we write because it helps us gain clarity in our own lives.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep on saying it: being a parent to a child with Autism/Asperger’s is a tough gig. You have to be strong and resilient. You have to be flexible and be able to maintain a sense of self. But, when you are allowed into your child’s world — every tough moment melts away into nothingness.