Six Ways to Support Parents of Children with Autism
Editor's Note: April is autism awareness month. Deanna Picon, founder of Your Autism Coach, LLC and author of The Autism Parents' Guide to Reclaiming Your Life has declared Saturday, April 11 as a day for family members and friends to support the parents of children with autism. In this excerpt from her press release, she shares ways we can help parents of children with autism.
Since April is Autism Awareness Month, I would like to bring attention to the challenges faced by the parents of children with autism.
As a parent of a non-verbal, 18-year-old young man with autism, I know how difficult it can be for parents to manage their lives after learning of their autistic child's diagnosis. Despite considerable national awareness of autism's effects on the child, along with the coverage the disease gets from the controversies surrounding it, too often the parents' needs are neglected even though they are affected just as much.
My mission is to let parents know that they shouldn't despair following a diagnosis; they can take control of their lives by defeating autism's grip on the family and raising their child with love and care while enjoying themselves and each other as well.
However, we can't do it alone. That's way I'm declaring Saturday, April 11th as "Help An Autism Parent" Day. Family members and friends can show their support in easy ways that will go a long way in helping these parents.
Family and friends can apply these simple tips to make a huge difference in the lives of special needs parents:
1. Give a well-deserved break. Managing all aspects of a child's daily living - including personal needs, school activities, therapy and medical appointments can leave parents little personal time. Offer to watch their child at home or take him/her to a park, museum or movie for a few hours. This will allow parents to do something they enjoy but never get a chance to do. Best of all, they'll know their child is safe and well-cared for and there are no child care costs.
2. Run an errand. Pick up some groceries when you shop or drop off some clothes at the dry cleaners. It's one less, time-consuming task on their long "To Do" List.
3. Share household tasks. Wash some dishes, a load of clothes or help clean the child's room. An extra pair of hands is always welcome.
4. Bring a dish. A nice dinner or even a take-out meal can make everyone feel special and appreciated.
5. Listen without judgment. Bring over some coffee or tea, sit down and just listen. Allow them to laugh, cry, vent and blow off some steam. No one expects you to solve their problems or even offer solutions. A shoulder to lean on works just fine.
6. Acknowledge their dedication. Tell parents they're doing a great job. Day in and day out, they're taking care of their special needs child without as much as a "Thank You." Words of encouragement and praise is a great morale booster.
For more on Deanna Picon, visit yourautismcoach.com. For more on autism, visit autism-society.org, autismspeaks.org and hhs.gov/autism.