We may come across as foremost experts as a result of our passionate advocacy for the disabled. The truth is that we are just as likely to learn from fellow advocates. When it comes to autism, we are all in this together. The medical community listens to parents and educators just as it hopes they are ready to benefit from its discoveries. Normally, we are big fans of writing about specific assistive technology or accommodations. This time around, we would like to simply share the seven best pieces of advice we have learned when it comes to how a parent can help a child who has autism.
Start the discussion early.
The sooner you can have a dialogue with your child about his or her diagnosis, the better. For one thing, it will be the start of their own self-advocacy. You will avoid having them learn from an inadequate or inappropriate source.
Start social groups.
A child with autism faces his or her greatest adversity on the social spectrum. It will be all too easy for your child to withdraw and avoid engagement in public places. Luckily, there are special needs parent groups who host special events. They are almost always autism/sensory friendly events.
Find a mentor.
Who among us couldn’t have used at least one good mentor in our lives? How many of us benefited from having one? It should be no different for individuals with autism. Dealing with therapy sessions, IEP meetings and all the other stresses of life with autism are easier to deal with when a more experienced person is around to walk you through it.
Know your rights.
What do you know about the Americans with Disabilities Act? How about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act? Get started on your education because it could mean free or low-cost services for your child. There is also ABLE< or Achieving a Better Life Experience, which helps individuals and their families to save funds for disability-related expenses via a tax-advantage account.
Know your support network.
You need social support too! Like we said, we read plenty online but we learn just as much if not more from people who are living the life of advocacy. We learn socially. You can too. Search for your state’s autism support group by searching Facebook Groups.
The one time and place where you will especially want to know who to have on your side is your child’s IEP meetings. Did you know that anyone can be part of your team? These conversations are vital to your child’s future so feel free to invite physicians, family members, friends and anyone you know has your child’s best interest at heart.
OK, we’re still going to talk about technology. We have to because your child will need all the help they can get when it comes to communication. IPads alone have become ubiquitous in the daily lives and education of children with autism. Text-to-speech and picture-to-speech apps are indispensable. Autism Speaks has an App database that breaks apps down into different categories including what they do, age ranges and what devices they run on.
Promote the practical.
It’s both a movie cliché and actual reality that the ASD community has been known to produce savants, or exceptional minds. However, more practical skills such as learning to do laundry, driving a car and money management should not be overlooked. In school, if they have an IEP, they are entitled to transitional service supports when they are a teenager.
All it takes to add to this list is a daily Google search. Our greatest minds are chipping away at the mysteries of the disorder. Meanwhile, the rest of us have plenty of hearts to go around. Let’s use them to ensure that individuals with autism can live a full and rewarding life.