As a parent, when your child is first diagnosed autistic and you have no previous understanding, experience, or knowledge of it, learning and knowing where to start can be daunting. You will find all kinds of voices out there. People claiming, they have a cure for autism. People claiming vaccines caused their child’s autism; and so much more.
Since, my autistic daughter’s diagnosis just over a year and a half ago I’ve learned a few key things you should take with you first.
Listen first and foremost to the Actually Autistic community. There is nobody who knows better what it feels like to be autistic then someone who is actually autistic.
Avoid doctors who….
- Recommend ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis)
- ABA techniques that teach compliance over understanding your child’s emotions and communication is abuse.
- Tell you your child will never…. *fill in the blank* There’s no predicting how your child will grow and what they will learn. Especially if they’re diagnosed at an early age. Any doctor that tells you there’s a never is not worth your time. Find someone supportive and understanding.
- Any doctor that is against vaccines and states anything close to claiming vaccines cause autism.
Autism is genetic.
Your child is the first in your family to be diagnosed? Well, look back at your family history, there’s a good chance someone is actually autistic and was never diagnosed. MANY parents find out they are in fact autistic after their child’s diagnosis.
Do not fall for the martyr mom complex.
Yes, raising an autistic child can be tough. Raising any child can be, but it is even harder for your child, trying to fit into a world that is not built for them, is tough.
- You are not an “Autism Mom” unless you yourself are actually autistic. Do not take on your child’s diagnosis. All moms are strong and amazing support for their children. Special needs parents are no more superheroes than every other mom.
- NEVER say “Autism won today.” What won? Your child’s brain chemistry? Your child’s essential being? When it’s been a rough day, Autism did not win, your child had a hard time and so you had a hard time, but let’s focus on your child. How could you prevent that in the future? Were they dealing with sensory overload? Was a routine suddenly changed? Do you n?eed to give more time for transitions? Every “behavior” is communication. Get down to the root cause of why your child had a rough time and your tomorrow will be better.
DO NOT support Autism Speaks.
Autism Speaks is one of the foremost known Autism charities, but for a charity that is supposedly supporting Autism they do not take into account the voices of the Actually Autistic community. They do not give enough to support actually autistics and their families, but rather fund a lot of research looking for how to prevent Autism before birth. I would need another post alone to explain eugenics.
The puzzle piece is not the preferred symbol by the Autistic community.
Anyone who is autistic is not missing a piece and they are not a puzzle to solve. They are whole. Here’s a whole history of why it is not preferred. Rather if you want to have jewelry, a t-shirt or anything else supporting neurodivergent people use the rainbow infinity symbol or the gold infinity symbol specifically for autism. Even better, support an Autistic artist or creator while you’re at it.
Give your child time.
Your child may not be ready for things that neuro-typical kids at their age level usually are. For an example, let’s use potty training. My daughter is 5 years old and not yet potty trained. But really, she understands going in the potty, she can do it and has done it. But either she has little interest to do so, or she does not have the interoception to know ahead of time when she needs to go. Either way, time will help her. Pushing will just frustrate her.
As a mom, Autistic or Neuro-typical, with an autistic child, what has helped you understand your child?