Having both, a neurotypically developing child and an autistic child is quite interesting. It’s really a whirlwind of a parenting adventure.
There are similarities and differences between the children. There are ups and downs.
There are parenting wins and parenting losses.
Lots of mom guilt…
And then there are marvelous and exceptional moments when all your children just shine.
What is it like having an autistic and neurotypical child?
For starters they are YOURS and they are CHILDREN.
They both go through the baby, toddler and older age stages.
They go to school (or homeschool).
You love them unconditionally
A piece of your heart is in each of them.
You worry about them and their future.
You clothe them and care for them.
They may go through the same age but they are developing differently. They reach their milestones at different times.
At school, your autistic child has many more challenges, struggles, and difficulties.
You worry about them more…Will they be able to care for themselves and be independent? Or will You care for them until you pass and then who will care for them?
How do you spend quality time with all the children? So much time, energy and effort go into all the help, care and therapies that your autistic child needs.
Literally, your lives revolve around your child’s therapies.
How do you make sure all the kids get the attention they need? Are you even seeing the challenges they are facing?
We celebrate achievements and milestones the same for all the kids. We just celebrate!
When it’s C we celebrate because he has accomplished something or has done something new. When it’s my other kids we celebrate because we can’t believe they can do that or that something else so early. We’ve never experienced that before.
What you can do to make it better or easier?
This is the million dollar question, isn’t it? We want to be the best parents for our kids. What kind of things can we do?
I think we can just do the best that we can for all our children.
The reality is that our special needs kiddos, our autistic kids will require extra attention and extra help.
-Get your neurotypical kids involved in the care of your other kid(s). If you can of course.
-When your kids have something to say, pay attention. Come down to their eye level and listen to what they are telling you. It doesn’t matter which one of your kids it is. It is so important to them.
-Designate quality time you spend with each child. An idea from a couple of my friends is to have “dates” with each child, once a week. The child gets to choose the parent and the experience. Just enjoy this time with them.
-When your autistic child is in therapy (speech or ABA) spend that time with your other kids instead of household chores. This time can easily be used up to do household things, but try and take the time to work with your other kids on their things.
-Celebrate! Celebrate! Be just as happy and excited about all your kid’s accomplishments and milestones.
This will not be easy and it will be a daily thing to remember. But ALL your kids deserve ALL of you. But don’t worry if one day one child needed you more. That will happen. That is life.
Just hug your kids a little longer. Give them an extra kiss. And tell them you love them one extra time.
Just watch their faces light up.
You got this mama!