It is estimated that 1 in 54 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism is a term for a wide range of conditions. Challenges with verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors are seen across the spectrum.
What Parenting an Autistic Child is Like
There is no one cause of autism. Genetics is one of the most well-known factors. Research contributes several factors such as environmental and infection as possible reasons for some cases of autism.
As you learn about autism, you may wonder what it is like to parent an autistic child. Let’s take some time to talk about that right now.
When Do Doctors Usually Diagnose Autism?
Autism is a lifelong diagnosis that is most commonly diagnosed during early childhood. However, a later diagnosis can occur at any age or stage of life. Being a spectrum, the severity of how autism affects each individual varies. There are three different levels of autism, and one individual can receive a diagnosis of two separate levels
Because autism can show itself in many different ways, you might have an autistic child who grows to adulthood and can care for themselves without much trouble. On the other hand, you may have a situation where such individuals need care for the rest of their lives.
At those times, professional guardianship must take place. The court system can appoint a professional guardian. Such a guardian might be a parent or an adult who runs a facility equipped to house and care for autistic individuals.
If you’re an autistic child’s parent and will turn them over to a professional guardian once they reach adulthood, you need to make sure that they’re not going to abuse their charge. Professional guardian abuse cases do occur, and when they do, that can be awful for the individuals who the guardians are mistreating.
An Invisible Disability
There’s a saying that’s often repeated because it’s true: If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. That’s because children (and adults) on the autism spectrum are very different from one another. There is no one correct road map to follow when raising, teaching, and loving them.
Autism is often referred to as an invisible disability. There is no one look to autism, and the symptoms of autism affect how the individual interacts with the world around them. While you may not be able to see their disability, it does not mean it does not exist.
Children with autism often struggle with social situations. From a parenting perspective, it can be painful to watch your child wanting to fit in but not always do so. There is also the concern of bullying and being left out of social events of their peers.
What Parents Want for Their Autistic Children
Parents of autistic children ultimately want what every parent wants, their children to be happy. Since that’s more challenging than neurotypical children, parents often go to great lengths to routines, therapies, and ways of learning that work best for their child.
Many parents of autistic children spend substantial amounts of time fighting for their children’s right to an equal and accessible education. This means countless school meetings to establish and maintain IEP and 504 plans. While some schools are great with this, others will go to equally great lengths to make this inaccessible to the students.
Early intervention helps autistic children work through development delays, social skills, and other impairments. If the child receives their diagnosis as a toddler, this means several years of nonstop therapy and doctor’s appointments. Even after children become school age, many comorbid disorders require therapies and doctor appointments.
These scenarios combined with helping their child learn to regulate emotions and keeping them safe from elopement scenarios can lead to substantial stress and feelings of isolation.
To practice self-care and spend time with other family members, parents can turn to respite care. Respite is when a trained professional watches your child for short or extended periods of time. However, this is not available to everyone due to income levels.
What Parenting an Autistic Child is Like
Parents of autistic children will tell you that they enjoy beautiful moments with their children. Autistic children are still engaging, energetic, and exuberant. While there are many struggles, there are just as many joys. Parenting autistic children is a unique and rewarding journey.