5 Common Mistakes Autism Parents Make, and How to Avoid Them

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3. Waiting Around to Get an Assessment

Sometimes parents notice that their child is a little different or that something seems “off.” However, they may put off getting their child screened for autism. Oftentimes loved ones or even doctors will tell them there’s nothing to worry about. Sometimes parents may also be afraid to get an answer or fear “labeling” their child and thus put off getting an assessment.

What’s the Problem?

Research shows that early intervention is key to helping a child with autism achieve the best possible outcomes. The earlier your child gets diagnosed, the sooner they can start therapy. On the flip side, waiting around means delaying getting necessary services for your child.

Adobe Stock/JackF

Adobe Stock/JackF

What’s the Solution?

Trust your gut. If you feel something is “off” with your child, look into it and push for an assessment. If your doctor or loved ones blow you off, don’t give up. Be persistent in your search for an answer; there is no harm in checking to be sure. If your child truly does have autism, you will have caught it early. And if not, at least you looked into it.

2. Not Asking for Help

Perhaps they think they are the only ones who will be able to care for their child. Maybe they think of getting help as a luxury that is too expensive. Maybe they think they should be able to handle everything themselves. Maybe they don’t realize they’re not alone. In any case, sometimes parents turn down offers of help or avoid looking for it or asking for it.

What’s the Problem?

You can’t and shouldn’t take this journey alone. Parenting is hard, and you need support—especially because your child has special needs. Trying to do it all yourself can lead to burnout, mental illness like depression, and feelings of resentment and isolation. And when you are not healthy or happy, you won’t be able to be the best parent and caregiver you can be.

What’s the Solution?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially from those who have offered it. Loved ones often want to help but won’t know what they can do. So ask if they’d be willing to do something specific for you—whether that’s babysitting, grocery shopping, offering a ride or car pool, taking care of household chores, or anything else you may need that’ll take some stress off your shoulders. The worst they can say is “no.”

If there’s no one in your immediate social circle who can help, you can also turn to professional respite services. Believe it or not, it is feasible. Learn more about it here.

1. Thinking Speech Is the Only Viable Communication Method

Adobe Stock/Africa Studio

Adobe Stock/Africa Studio

Speech is held in high regard in our society. As such, it’s not surprising that parents become heartbroken when their child has little to no ability to speak. They may fall into the belief that giving their child the ability to speak with their mouths is of vital importance, and thus they may focus more on getting their children to speak rather than communicate.

What’s the Problem?

Every person has something to say, and every person deserves the chance to express it. Verbal communication may be an effective way to do so, but it is by no means the only way, nor should it be the only method autistic children are taught. Downplaying the importance of or denying your child an alternative means of communication while they learn verbal speech is neither right nor fair.

What’s the Solution?

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking your child to speech therapy or hoping you’ll someday hear them speak. However, speech should not be the number one priority; communication should. So find a form of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) that works for your child and teach it to them. You can learn more about that here.

Conclusion

If your child has recently been diagnosed or you suspect they are on the spectrum, you may feel all sorts of emotions like fear, grief, and anger. There is nothing wrong with this, but don’t let them get in the way of your logic and reason. Take a deep breath and remember: you aren’t the first person to raise an autistic child. Learn from those who have gone before you and avoid stumbling into the same pitfalls they did.

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A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.
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