Most people focus on the negative aspects of raising a child with autism. Yes, it is VERY different and more difficult to raise a child with autism compared to neurotypical children.
But since my son’s diagnosis, I’ve learned along the way that parenting a child with autism is not all negative. My child has some wonderful qualities that not only makes life more enjoyable but…
His autism is making me a better parent!
No, I’m not perfect and no parent is. However, with my child’s autism, I’m learning to be the best parent I can be for him. While it may seem strange to you, autism has changed my life and is making me a better person!
Here are all the positive things autism is adding to my life!
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Autism is taking me out of my comfort zone
The comfort zone I’m talking about is my parenting comfort zone. I never thought I would have a child with autism. But here I am and I’ve had to change the way I parent because of it.
Parenting a child with autism is completely different from raising a neurotypical child. Not only does autism cause a child to think differently, but to behave differently in how he or she interacts with the world.
How I thought I would raise children (before I had them) is not how I am raising my child with autism. Autistic children are more sensitive to the world as a whole and do not understand instructions and discipline the same as neurotypical children.
Therefore, the way I communicate instructions and discipline are different now with the increase in autism symptoms at the age of two with my son.
Related Articles: 20 Signs Of Autism You May Not Recognize
I’m learning patience
There are two types of people in this world… Those who have the patience of a saint and those who have no patience. I’ll admit, I probably fall somewhere in between. If there’s ever a long line where I have to wait, I will do my best to avoid it.
I’d rather self-checkout an entire cart of food at the grocery store than wait in line aimlessly behind two other people. So it is safe to say I could use a lesson in what patience is.
Now, raising a child with autism has forced me to gain a ton of patience. It’s difficult parenting a child with autism. I have to use a good amount of patience each day in order to communicate properly with him.
For instance, eye contact and attention span are hard for my son. Getting him to focus and make eye contact takes time. I have to ask a question slowly and show every object at eye level, then (hopefully and eventually) receive a reply. Of course, sometimes the same question needs to be repeated multiple times. By the third time, I’ll admit I’m close to losing my sanity.
It’s really hard to try to engage with someone and not receive a reply back.
But each day, I work on speech and communication with him and I’m gaining more and more patience slowly. I know for my son to eventually communicate better, he needs a lot of patience.
I’m acquiring new relaxation techniques
Not only for my son’s autism meltdowns, but for myself as well!
If you have never seen an autism meltdown, consider yourself lucky! It’s difficult to watch your child so overwhelmed with sensory stimuli that he/she can’t calm themselves. You can see your child in visual anguish and it’s hard to witness.
Over time, I’ve learned a few tricks to calm sensory meltdowns for my son. I’ve acquired multiple methods of anti-meltdown relaxation techniques:
-A deep pressure stimulation hug
-A weighted blanket
-Sensory light projector
Out of all these things, a weighted blanket is the best purchase I’ve ever made for my son’s meltdowns! Not only does it help my child’s meltdowns but I now use a weighted blanket to help myself fall asleep faster and calm panic attacks.
Related Articles: 16 Sensory Room Products For SPD And Autism
I’m learning a new language
Children with autism are visual learners. Think of it like Google images inside their heads. All they see are images and they do not see in terms of words and sentences.
Because of this such communication systems as PECS (picture exchange communication system) and modified sign language can aid a child’s understand and help them communicate needs better. We first tried PECS with my son. Although it helped my son understand what we were referring to when we showed him a picture card, he didn’t understand the concept of exchanging the picture to get what he wants.
For a long time, I was reluctant to use sign language to communicate with him. Not because I didn’t want to learn, but because I didn’t understand how sign language would help him develop verbal language over time.
To be honest… I still don’t understand how it works. But I started sign language anyway and thought, “What have I got to lose? I’ll try anything to get him talking!”
I first started with a few easy signs like ‘yes’, ‘no’, and ‘milk.’ Then I kept adding more and more signs I needed to communicate throughout the day. As a sign a word to him, I also say the word at the same time.
And… BOOM! It was a night and day difference in his behavior and language. His speech is now flourishing again! Although this is also do to echolalia, sign language has also helped especially when it comes to understanding.
Here’s an example: If I want him to stop jumping on the couch, I sign “Please sit” to him. He understands and says “Sit down” and he sits down without being crying or continuing to jump on the couch. It’s incredible!
I have his autism to thank for this! Without my son’s autism, I wouldn’t be learning a new way to communicate with him. I’d be stuck in my old ways that down work and don’t make sense to him.
I now know well over 20 signs and I’m learning new ones every day to fit my son’s needs and I am combining signs to make short sentences.
It may seem like I’m bragging, but I promise I’m not. I’m just so happy that I’ve found a working form of communication that’s in turn increasing his verbal speech! I’m immensely proud of him for all the improvements he’s made!
Autism tends to complicate how you parent a child. But you can either let your child’s autism overwhelm you or you can decide to make changes to yourself and your parenting to help your child succeed in life.
When people think of autism, they tend to think about all the challenges that come with it. Yes, there are many challenges, but for me, there are positives as well.
Wholeheartedly, I believe my child is making me a better parent due to his autism. Trust me, I still have a long way to go to be a better mom for him. But with time, and by focusing on the positives of the situation our lives will continue to get better and better even with the presence of autism!