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.
Follow these lovely parents on Twitter:
5 thoughts on “Parents of individuals with Autism, I salute you!”
I’d like to thank you for acknowledging and raising awareness of the challenges parents of individuals with autism face EVERY DAY! Often many only ever see from the outside in, never the endless visual aids (drawn, constructed through the night), the hours and hours of worry and searching for new strategies as the child either grows out of one, or doesn’t respond to one. Sleepless nights, meltdowns, extreme reactions (it’s the most amazing thing ever v the end of the world), adapting environment, clothing, food due to sensory issues, the fretting of being different and not accepted by peers, teachers, neighbours even family at times…
The endless quips, remarks, looks, advice etc. of sometimes well intentioned but often ignorant (in attitude or lack of awareness or lack of acceptance, or indeed “all of the above”) people be they spectators, practitioners, or friends and family etc.
All this often with little reciprocation of love, affection or what seems like indifference from a child you would lay down your life for – and holding down a job to put food on the table…
This of course all happens before and after diagnosis where often the prognosis is so very negative (in my experience) you are grieving too…
Personally – I knew the prognosis couldn’t be accurate as I was autistic, my son’s aspergers – and if I had achieved what I had with no intervention and specialised support (don’t get me wrong – my parents loved me, but my childhood, adolescence was a traumatic and extremely unhappy one) which I had done on my own, then the world was my son’s oyster – this I never ever doubted – perhaps naive, perhaps over optimistic…
I refused, refused to compare my son to NT peers, I saw them, wished more for him at times – but my refusal to endlessly compare saved both myself and my son endless heartache and additional unnecessary heartache…
I am autistic, I am me; my son has aspergers, he is him – that is how I started, that is how I have continued and now I have a son ready to enter the world, who is funny, intelligent, confident, self assured – he has friendships, a social life, girlfriends!!
I never had any of this at his age, (it was recommended that I be placed in an institution/home – which still existed at that time) so somehow, deep inside I know, I really really know that however or whatever it was my son and I did growing him up – we did it right!! I followed my heart, my intuition, my own personal experience of autism, I accepted him utterly and worked with what we had. We did just fine!!
Thank you for raising awareness – parenting for anyone can often be a thankless task – but being acknowledged, recognised is most welcome. Best wishes to you, Autista
*Apologies for the long spiel!!