As a mom, I often hear advice that’s meant to be helpful or guiding in some form or another. As a mom of an individual with autism, I really hear a lot of ‘helpful’ advice, mostly from well meaning people. Sometimes, I genuinely do think that they’re trying to be helpful, and other times it’s all I can do to keep a straight face. More often than not, I’d like to be able to say here’s how you can help. With that being said, I’d like to offer my own take on Ten Things That You Can Do for a Parent with a Child with Autism. And don’t forget to check out my autism resources and inspiration for more posts like this.
Ten Things That You Can Do to Help a Parent of a Child with Autism
- Compliment them. Be it on their parenting skills or the simple fact that they survived the morning or made it through the day in one piece, a kind word can go a long way.
- Be judgment free. I know that it’s so easy to pass judgment on people (and I’m plenty of guilty of this myself), but you never know when that child is having a temper tantrum or having a meltdown. It’s already hard enough for parent and child without the added judgment.
- Try to learn a little bit. I’m not suggesting that you should go out and read every book or article on autism spectrum disorder, but even reading a basic article will help in understanding what the parent might be going through.
- Volunteer at an event. Take a look and see if there’s anything going on locally (maybe at the school or someplace similar) where you can lend a hand.
- Offer to give the parent a break. Even if it means just a few minutes for the parent to have to themselves, try to help out in that way. Obviously, I know that heading into this world unprepared might be asking a lot and I wouldn’t suggest this unless you’re familiar with the family already.
- Be welcoming. If you have other children, encourage them to be friendly and accepting to the child. If you don’t have children, reach out to the parents and let them know that they’re welcomed and loved.
- Be a sounding board. For me, having this blog and being in a few Facebook groups is mostly sufficient enough when I need to vent. I also have support outside of this and that has been a huge help. You may not fully understand what a parent is saying to you, but just let them get that out. Of course, this should go both ways so that way one of you isn’t feeling entirely used.
- Ask how you can help. If you’re not sure how to help, simply ask. Keep in mind your own boundaries and your own personal comfort level.
- Donate to a charitable organization. Ask the family if there’s a particular charity that they endorse, and make a donation in the child’s or family’s name.
- Spread awareness. Encourage others to be aware and accepting of individuals with autism.
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While some of these things may seem simple- that’s really all that a parent might need at any given moment. For me personally, just having someone who I could vent to that understood… or who would just listen? That made all the difference in the world some days.