Babies born to mothers who took
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times more likely to develop autism.

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How to Help a Family with an Autistic Child

June 22, 2014

Parents must learn quickly how to deal with heartbreaking temper tantrums and self-injurious behavior.For a parent whose child has just been diagnosed with autism, life will be forever changed.  As if facing these new monumental challenges were not enough, it is common for family and friends to pull away from these parents, leaving them feeling alone and confused about where to go to for help.

Parents of a child suffering from autism face a life packed with overwhelming challenges. Some challenges include battling with the litany of their autistic child's demands, while other parents face a world not properly equipped to assist with their autistic child's unique lifestyle. Parents must learn quickly how to deal with heartbreaking temper tantrums and self-injurious behavior. They need to decipher the needs of their child when communication is at odds with words. Even a simple task of hiring a babysitter can be exhausting. These parents discover right away that sending their autistic child to school is a complicated process, having to find one that will properly accommodate a child with autism. Everyday basic responsibilities are no longer the same. These parents struggle daily with finding answers and ways to help them help their child with special needs.  

What can you do? How can you help?

An article written by Jonathan Alderson lists five different ways family and friends can help support parents of a child with autism, which we have summarized below.

These include:

  • Listen. Spend time listening to them and what they need to express. Help create a safe space for them to talk about how they feel or share their thoughts without judgment or pity.
  • Let them sleep. Every parent needs extra sleep but trying to navigate their child’s hyperactivity or sleep disorders has left them sleep deprived. Offer to babysit for a few hours to allow them time to relax and take a nap.
  • Don’t judge. It may be tempting to inundate them with suggestions on what to do to make things easier, but most parents have spent hours researching and trying new methods. Give them the benefit of the doubt and don’t judge. They are doing the best they can with the resources that they have.
  • Be a “typical” friend. Maintain your regular presence in their life. Don’t assume that they don’t want to be bothered. Try to trust that if they need a change, they will tell you.

  • Be a cheerleader for even the small steps. Help acknowledge the accomplishments and steps they’ve taken for the goals they have for their child. Celebrate the process just as much as the objective.

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