There are many things parents need to know as they embark on the journey of parenting unique, autistic learners.
Goodness knows that the descriptions of the diagnostic criteria are little help with this: ditto the advice dispensed by those who have memorized the DSM-V but have no clue how to identify those autism traits in your home, and even less idea of how to help your child to develop coping skills to thrive in the typical (read: ordinary) world.
Most supports are not focused on preventing problems. Instead, they are geared at 'closing the barn door after the horse has gone’.
In other words, parents can scramble to find help for the child who:
Because we don’t understand autism, and we don’t provide the best practice supports that would plan to prevent problems in the first place.
So while autism is not a mental illness, society does make our children anxious by:
People will then start rephrasing things instead of allowing us to ‘process’ (i.e. hear and respond to what you’ve said)—and man oh man—that just makes things worse. The processing time will start all over again.
Want to avoid anxiety from becoming a presenting issue for your child? Want to help reduce any stress or anxiety that is already present?
Remember that almost all people with an autism identification have an ‘intolerance for uncertainty’. This means we like to know what to expect—and what is expected of us.
We like to know potential outcomes (and you can bet we often catastrophize as our anxiety gets worse—we expect the worst, most negative outcomes from anything we try). An autism diagnosis often means more rigid, black and white/ right and wrong thinking, and a strong need to do things correctly. When we don’t know what to expect, we have no idea if we will be able to do what is expected of us. It’s just safer for us to refuse to engage.
As you are figuring out what kinds of approaches and supports to include in your parenting, consider the following: