Being a parent is hard.
It is just plain hard!
And one of the hardest things about parenting a child with autism is how do we help our child blend in while letting them shine?
I think this is a difficult question for any parent but especially our children with autism. They are so different and so unique. Their brains are amazing and we are still trying to figure out how they work!
But what makes our children different and unique and amazing can sometimes be that which makes them stand out and not be accepted. Unfortunately, sometimes this can also lead to bullying from other kids. It leads to other adults judging us moms on our parenting (including our own family). And it can be quite difficult for our children’s self-esteem as well.
How do we help them blend in? And at the same time how do we let them be themselves?
As my oldest C has grown and matured I’ve loosened my reigns a little bit. I’m letting him be more in control as he matures and I just step aside and watch. I have stopped apologizing for his quirks and questions he asks strangers and people he just met. I’m just amazed he’s communicating and socializing with other people! He is who he is. And he is quite wonderful! I want him to feel that he can be himself and not be shy.
Telling your child to blend in and be like everyone else can also be harmful. Here’s a fascinating article on the topic of “camouflaging”. When autistic people try to fit in and how it can be harmful.
A mom friend of mine said she tells her kids, “…it’s okay to be different, but still make the right choices…”
And isn’t that what we want for our children? For them to be themselves and be the BEST version of themselves?
Here are 12 ways you can help your child blend in while letting them shine
1. Help them be independent
-teach them life skills
-what is appropriate and what is not
-what is said out loud and what needs to stay in their head
2. Help them be compassionate towards others
Having a special needs child changes you as a parent. Teach your child to have compassion for other people in all walks of life.
3. Stop caring what other people will think of them or you
This is a tough one. But once you let go of what other people think and other people’s expectations you will begin a life that is best for you and best for your child.
4. Reward our child when they make a good decision
We want them to be independent and make good decisions. A reward system is a great motivation.
5. Push them to come out of their comfort zone while knowing when they need a break and let them take it.
This may be trial and error. Watch and observe your child to know their limits and signs of overwhelm. And let them take breaks when they need it.
6. Give them grace
7. Give yourself grace
Giving grace to yourself, your children or others can be difficult. But can be learned.
8. Let your child know they are different
They may know already. But it’s important that you acknowledge it and let them know that it’s okay.
9. But at the same time that they are amazing just the way they are
They ARE amazing and their brains are amazing and we are just trying to figure it out.
10. Ask them questions and let them ask you questions
The things you can learn from your child…just listen.
11. Have consequences for bad decisions but also know when that mistake was just them learning how to navigate the world around them.
Sometimes I forget how hard it can be for C and that he really truly didn’t’ mean it.
12. Celebrate who they are
Celebrating the small things and the large things. Your child works so hard for all that they accomplish. It’s good to celebrate!
These are just a few ways that can help you help your autistic child to blend in and shine at the same time.
How do you help your child?