Growing a family is an exciting time. But it’s also one of significant change—both for the parents and for the kiddos who might already be in this world. And if your kiddo is a spectrum kiddo, that complicates things a little further. Change is especially tough for them.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop having/adopting/fostering children after you receive the autism diagnosis. If you and your partner want more, have more—you’ll just need to keep some important considerations in mind and give your spectrum child plenty of preparation. How can you do that? Here are some tips.
10. Use anatomically correct terminology when explaining pregnancy
People with autism tend to be very literal, so euphemisms expecting parents tend to use with their children may only serve to confuse your kiddo. For example, “A baby is growing in Mommy’s tummy” is confusing for a child with autism because the tummy is where food goes, not babies! Instead of using words like “stomach,” “tummy,” or “belly” to describe where the baby is growing, use the proper term, “uterus.”
9. Talk about the pregnancy early on
Your child needs to know what to expect, so tell them what you think they need to know. For example: as the baby grows inside Mom’s uterus, her uterus will also grow, and her belly will appear to get bigger; you will go to the hospital to have doctors help deliver the baby; and your child might be staying with someone else while this happens.
8. Mom, buy the same clothes you have but in different sizes
That way, the only thing that will change about you is your belly. Autism parenting lifehack, for the win!
7. Introduce the concept of a growing family to your child
There are multiple ways you can do this.
- Show them family photos. Family photos and baby pictures can help your child understand this important concept.
- Use picture books/simple stories. There are lots of books and other materials out there to teach children the ins and outs of welcoming a new sibling into the family. Find one that would work for your child—or make your own story—and then read/present it to them as often as necessary.
- Watch TV shows. There are several children’s programs that specifically cover this very subject, such as Arthur, Dora the Explorer, and Caillou. Seek out TV episodes like this and show them to your child.
6. Get them involved with preparations
What this looks like, of course, will depend on your child’s age and/or functioning level. However, a few ideas include letting your child pick out baby clothes or toys, retrieving diapers or pacifiers as needed, and decorating the baby’s room.