New Year’s Resolutions for Parents of Autistic Children
With the New Year just around the corner, it’s a great time for people to try and set new goals for the coming year. For the parents of autistic children, it’s a time to look ahead to 2020 and decide how they are going to overcome the challenges of everyday life.
Other people may not understand what bringing up a child with autism involves. Children on the autism spectrum see the world differently and often find it hard to express themselves. They may see, smell, or hear things differently and their condition can affect communication, social interaction and behaviour.
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Christmas can be a particularly challenging time, as the changes in their usual routine can be upsetting. The key is to ensure your autistic child is central to all planning. It’s important to remember that children with autism can enjoy the festive period and live a happy, fulfilled life, but their experiences will be different.
For the parents of autistic children, a good goal for the New Year is to focus on self-improvement and self-awareness – their New Year resolutions often focus on how they can achieve such goals. While many of us vow to eat less and get fit, many parents of autistic children are planning on raising the bar as a parent.
Everyone does the best they can, but there are always ways people can self-improve – and New Year is a great time to reflect on this. Here are some ideas for New Year’s resolutions for parents with autistic children…
- I won’t talk about you as if you’re not there
Some parents realise they talk about their child in the third person while they’re in earshot – but the child isn’t a baby anymore and can understand what’s going on. Parents know their child understands more than they are given credit for and resolve to include them in any discussions that concern them. However, the exception can be if it’s a sensitive medical issue, or one which the child might find upsetting, in which case it should be discussed in private.
- I won’t make you look me in the eye
Some parents have made the mistake of thinking their child isn’t listening to them, because of a lack of eye contact. In fact, even if the child doesn’t meet their parents’ eye, this doesn’t mean they’re not listening. Don’t force your autistic child to make eye contact, as this can be difficult for them. It’s a case of talking to your child and knowing they ARE hearing, regardless of whether they have been able to look you in the eye or not.
- I will make more effort to connect with you
Some parents have confessed they find it harder to make a close connection with their autistic child, because they don’t seem to have many shared interests. While the child may be interested in solving maths problems, the parents may be more interested in socialising in restaurants, or shopping trips. Connecting with your child may be a challenge, but for many parents, the New Year signals a change in their own attitude and a pledge to make more effort to connect. It’s a time to tap into your child’s world with enthusiasm and to feel inspired by their passion for their interests.
- I will always have a “can do” attitude no matter what
On a tough day, everyone can feel despair about the things that they’ve been unable to achieve. It’s nothing to feel ashamed of when you think things haven’t gone as planned. The trick is to bounce back – and if you don’t succeed one day, go back the next day and try again. Rather than thinking, “We can’t do this,” try to adopt a “can do” attitude. Pause, take a step back and believe that even though you may not have achieved something today, in six months’ time, tasks that are difficult now may have become the norm and you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.
- I won’t justify your behaviour to strangers
If a child on the autism spectrum appears to be misbehaving in public, many parents feel embarrassed if people are looking at them. They feel they are somehow failing as a parent and must explain or apologise to complete strangers. One important New Year resolution is NOT to feel the need to explain and justify yourself. There will always be some people who “tut”, no matter how hard you try! At the end of the day, the important thing is to know that your child is loved and cherished by the people who matter – their family. Other people who don’t understand how wonderful your child is don’t deserve your time and you should NEVER feel embarrassed or ashamed because they can’t see this.
To make bedtime safer and more comfortable, Kinderkey provides safe sleeping solutions for people with autism. Our range of special needs and disabled beds are purpose-designed for those who might experience sleep disruption. Our Bearhugzzz SpaceSaver bed provides a soft and safe environment.
Please contact us for further information. We’re happy to arrange a home visit to provide a personal assessment.