It is every parent’s wish to have a happy and healthy child. But what happens if you see something unusual in your child’s behavior around two years of age? The breaking news after the doctor consultation and the journey that you have to face during all the stages of development of your child with autism is overwhelming. How successful you are at dealing with your child’s Autism Spectrum Disorder depends on your reaction towards it – acceptance or denial. Most parents are able to accept the diagnosis of ASD, but a fraction of them refuses to accept the fact that their child has autism. The process of acceptance may be difficult, but it is where you can help your child live a typical life. It is the key to success in your journey of raising a child with autism.
Before anything else, you have to be educated with the factors involving ASD. Familiarization will help you know how to handle your child’s mood swings, and his or her behavior in general, particularly when your child goes through the transitions from early childhood, puberty, adolescence, and adulthood. The most difficult transition typically happens during puberty. The hormonal changes are the same with teens without ASD, but how to handle these changes productively involves a lot of work from you, as the parent. You may think your teen’s behavior is getting worse, but you should consider the fact that he or she is going into adolescence, where it is normal for teens to argue with their parents, and become increasingly independent. The difference between a teen with ASD and one without is their outlet. Most teens can easily socialize, while an ASD teen may receive rejection from their peers, causing them to shy away from people. This makes it harder for them to understand the transition they are facing. This is where you, as parents, come in.
How do you help your teen with these changes?
Educate Your Tween on Sexuality and Bodily Functions
At puberty, boys have to deal with new emotions and hormonal changes, while girls have their menstrual cycle in addition to emotions and hormones. You should explain to them what it means through books, the internet and open communication not just once or twice, but as many times as it takes for them to understand. Moreover, since teens with ASD are prone to sexual harassment, you need to discuss to them what sex is. You have to teach them to respond appropriately.
Give Them Choices
Children with autism may be very dependent on you, as a parent. They may rely on you in everything that they do. However, just like other teens, ASD teens are also struggling for independence. For your child to gain some of the independence they crave, give them choices when possible. For example, ask them what they want to do this afternoon… go to the park to play with the dog, or watch a movie. Only you know how much responsibility your child can handle but the more independence you can provide them, the easier their transition into adulthood will be.
Build Self Esteem
If you see your child frequently doing things, like drawing, then develop their interest in it by providing them opportunities to develop their skills. In addition, do not forget to praise them, in this case, for their artwork.
Above all, patience and understanding for your ASD teen will make your journey together more enjoyable.
Elaine Enchiverri is a professional freelance writer who enjoys writing about various topics, including advice for parents with children who have autism.