Factors for A Successful Life with Autism
I often write about the importance of early diagnosis and intervention, and I truly believe it is one of the most important factors in helping an autistic child live their most successful life. But what happens after this stage?
Yes, you have accepted your child’s diagnosis but you still have feelings left over, how do you handle them?
Yes, you are being told your child is ready for school, but what about the meltdowns?
Most children struggle with social pressure at school, how is your child supposed to handle that and autism at the same time?
The solution to these concerns is no easy task, but it can be stated simply: take charge and focus on your child. I commend those of you who make time to campaign for a cure, or partake in leading the autism awareness movement—however—ultimately your own child has to be the priority. Don’t depend on other people to help your child, be the dominant factor in your child’s life. Here are three areas to focus on:
Don’t waste any time wondering if the school system will accommodate your child, get in there and make them. Start visiting your child’s school during the summer and establish a relationship with the administration, guidance counselors, and teachers. From there you will want to stay in constant touch with the school staff, and be sure to get regular reports on your child’s behavior and progress. Another helpful tactic is to invite school staff and students to your house, where your child feels more comfortable. Create situations for your child to have social interaction with peers and school faculty at home, and it will help reduce their anxiety when having social interaction at school.
It is important to identify your child to your community. One very important step is to schedule meetings with officials in the police department and fire department. Many fire and police departments are making an effort to raise their department’s awareness of autism, but regardless if they have been educated or not, you want to be sure to make them aware of your child’s presence in the community, in case of emergency.
Advocate for your child throughout your community, and it will create a better living environment for his/her development.
Possibly the most important area you can focus on is your home. Your child will be more comfortable if the house is organized, a great way to do that is to get bins and baskets. I found it helped Joey to have each bin identified with a picture (socks, shoes, toys, etc).
You will also want to use your time at home wisely, try to supplement your child’s treatment. Your home is a great place to desensitize your child to objects that give them anxiety. Expose them to the object for a very short time, and then gradually increase exposure in small increments.
You may never fulfill the dreams you had before finding out your child has autism but I promise you, raising a child with autism can be a rewarding experience beyond your wildest dreams. Accept your child’s autism, and be the super parent your child needs to reach the level of success they are capable of.
About the Author:
Anne Moore Burnett has 20 years experience successfully raising an autistic child. Educators, doctors, psychologists, and counselors have referred hundreds of parents to Burnett over the past fifteen years for direction and advice in the field of autism. Burnett has sat on the Tri-Town Curriculum Board for Special Needs and holds a director certification from the Office for Children in Washington, DC.