If there is one group of people that I respect more than any other, it’s the parents of individuals with Autism. Having worked with young people with ASD for almost a decade, I have witnessed their struggles and triumphs first hand. I have listened to their stories- both the good and the bad. I have seen them deal with the tantrums and stims in and out of the classroom, while others stare ignorantly and at times, angrily and them.
Almost all of the parents I have spoken to were angry, frustrated and relieved all at the same time upon knowing their children’s diagnosis for the first time. ‘Nobody deserves to have a child with Autism’, some would say. But they figure out a way to raise their children. They are the first ones to acknowledge that it is not their children’s fault that they have Autism. Instead of giving up, these parents have had to change their ways of parenting in order to accomodate their children’s needs. Heck, they have had to change their lives to accomodate their children. Routines, ways of speaking, the food in their houses, the places they go to, have to be planned in advance. These parents are the ones who have to explain to their other children, who does not have Autism, why their brother/sister needs more attention and patience.
As mentioned above, they, along with their children, have to deal with those ignorant people who give them angry, disgusted stares and unsolicited but wrong parenting advice when they are in public places. They have to deal with the persistantly tough but misinformed teachers, who insist that their children are naughty, unattentive and academically slow. These parents are the ones who would fight tooth-and-nail to get their kids to the right school, with the right support and appropriate equipments.
These parents are the ones who are worried about their children when they reach school-leaving age.
It comes to no surprise that every single young person that I have worked with have their parents at the top of their prioroty list. Regardless of their mental and social skills, all of the young people that I have worked with would run back to a burning building just to save their parents.
So whenever you speak to the parents of a child with Autism, always remember what they go through, day in, day out. When it comes to their kids, they are the experts. Listen to them. When planning and implementing interventions in schools, take their suggestions into consideration.
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