Being a parent is one of the most rewarding but also most difficult tasks and responsibilities this planet has to offer. Every parent faces difficulties and can be stressed at times, just as much as overwhelmed with love. Being an autistic parent can make all of those things extra intense and cause great stress on a daily basis. Here are 5 tips for parents, who are on the spectrum themselves, to help deal with the daily struggles.
1. Routine and structure
We all know how routine and structure is important for people with ASD. Routine and structure is also vitally important for children (even neurotypical ones). Giving routine and structure offers children a safe haven in which they can explore themselves and grow. So routine and structure is good for both ASD parents and children.
However, a routine or structure that is too rigid may cause frustration for both. Let me illustrate this with an example.
A lot of people on the autistic spectrum like routine, repetition and sameness. To give an example of what I mean by this, if things were always entirely up to me, I would never do anything outside my normal routine. I am happy doing a very small number of things, exactly the same things, every day, forever.
So, what happens when someone with ASD is interested in doing something but won’t, or when their loved one wants them to do something they know they will like, yet they still say no? How can we help ourselves or how can our loved ones best encourage us?
For me, there are four main barriers. Here they are and here are my thoughts on how they can be reduced:
It is common for people on the autistic spectrum to repeat questions, words or phrases, or to seem to want to talk about the same thing. In this article, I will discuss why this might be, give examples, and suggest strategies to help.
Personally, I do find myself asking the same thing over and over again. For myself, the primary problem is that I do not process social interactions very well (words, language, speech, gestures, expressions…). I can hear the words, but not understand what is meant. I receive the information but there is a delay before I actually understand what someone means.
2 years ago, my life changed, because we got a puppy! Our breed of choice was the Black Russian Terrier, an uncommon giant breed and a ‘Terrier’ only by name! Today, “Bear” is 2 and a half years old and she weighs 51kg.
I am not an experienced dog owner. In fact, Bear is only my second dog, the first I only have vague memories of because I was so young when we had her. So I write this article from a novice point of view – here are some of the good things about my wonderful dog and some of the benefits of dogs generally for people on the autism spectrum! I have also included a few additional things to consider at the end (because being a dog owner is a big responsibility). Continue Reading
A conversation involving multiple people or participating in groups can be extremely difficult for people on the autistic spectrum. There are lots of reasons why, including a magnification in the triad of impairments, i.e. the more people there are, the more people the person with ASD is going to struggle to listen to, talk to and ‘read.’ Also, groups tend to have ‘group rules’ which may be obvious to neurotypicals, but not to us.
Here are some of my tips for people on the spectrum, for conversing in groups.
Here is the girl with the curly hair’s schedule for today.
5-6am: The newspaper round
The girl with the curly hair arrives at the shop to collect her paper round.
She is always the first paper deliverer in.
After 10 years, the Boss still does not prepare her round first.
People with ASD may have difficulties seeing the bigger picture and putting things into a context. Here are a few different scenarios to show you what I mean:
Many people with autism also have mental health problems, which include: low mood, anxiety, loneliness and a lack of self–confidence. The teenage years are arguably some of the toughest years for everyone, so here are a few suggestions to help teenagers with ASD feel more confident. These are some of the things I wish my parents, friends and teachers had done and said to help me. I’ve written it for parents but it could be for anyone who cares about someone with ASD:
In my experience, sleep problems are particularly common for people with autism. Here are my top 10 tips that may help improve you or your loved one’s sleep.
1. Ensure a comfortable sensory environment
Here are some possible solutions for someone who is undersensitive (sensory seeking):
Inclusion is a very big word these days in society. We are all being motivated to include others into our daily lives and the lives we have in society, disregarding gender, race, age, illness, disability (mentally, physically or both) sexual orientation,….
However there does lie a difference between inclusion and acceptance.
“Jeanne, 43, ASD, works at an office. There is a massive summer event coming up, organised by the general staff of the office. Everybody is excited and talking about it. There will be a BBQ first and then a dance at a big venue. Even though Jeanne is comfortable around her colleagues, the thought of going there frightens her and gives her anxiety. She tells her colleagues she will not be attending and uses the excuses that it is too far away from her home and the travel time will be too long.
Her colleagues immediately offer to come pick her up and drive her back home after the party, so she won’t miss out on all the fun. Jeanne feels terribly distressed by this.”