Taking a Village Approach to Help Families Affected by Autism
When it comes to autism, having the ‘It Takes a Village’ mindset can help you and your child learn new skills faster as well as break maladaptive ones. We can often forget that the child is not only affected by this diagnosis but immediate and extended families as well. It can strain relationships, test your patience and at times be very overwhelming. Here are a few pointers on how to adjust to this change and get the support you’ll need.
- Learn to be the best advocate for your child– Make sure you are informed on all that is happening in the autism community. This will not only allow you to provide your family and child with the best resources possible but will also give you some reassurance that you are not alone.
- Get involved in the autism community– Expanding your village and getting involved in the autism community will not only provide you with a support system but can also be a good source of comfort and empathy from someone who knows what you’re going through.
- Don’t push your feelings away– It is ok to feel frustrated or angry at times. Just remember to take things one step at a time. Like the previous pointer, find someone you can confide in, or an autism support group, and air out your feelings for a little while. You’ll find yourself calmer and feeling better, ready for the next challenge.
- Accept that you can’t control everything– No matter how much you prepare your child for an outing or do an activity, the probability of everything going according to plan is slim to none. Be okay with the fact that your plan might not go exactly as you had expected it. Adjust and move on, it will still be a great day spent with your child!
- Appreciate the small victories– From mastering a session to making eye contact, these are just some of the small victories that you should be proud of. Autism is a lifelong adjustment and by appreciating the small victories, you are able to see the progress the child has accomplished.
- Find an activity that you and your sibling can do together– Not only will you find something with your sibling rewarding but it will also create closeness.With your sibling being on the autism spectrum, it can sometimes feel as though you can’t truly understand them. Doing an activity together will provide you with a quick glance on their daily struggles and accomplishments.
- Be proud of your sibling – Learn to talk about autism and be open and comfortable describing the disorder to others. This will create acceptance and understanding to others outside of your family unit. Notice the everyday accomplishments of your sibling(s) and provide them with support. This will not only allow you to get closer to your sibling but will also help you realize how proud you are of them.
- Remember that you are not alone– Having feelings of anger and frustration at times is normal. Just remember that you are not the only one feeling this. Your parents have the same feelings and they are nothing to be ashamed of. Speak to your family or a support group and find the understanding and closure that you need.
For Extended Family:
- Be a support system– Part of being in a village of support for those affected by autism is as simple as checking in with them regularly. Ask the family how they are doing can mean more to them than you can imagine. Seeing if their is any way that you can assist them in their day-to-day living can be a great boost to their moral. Whether it means taking care of the child so that the parents can take a break or go out, helping with chores around the house, or raising money for the school that help’s your family’s child.
- Learn more about autism– You might not be able to interact with your family member affected by autism all the time. Because of this, it would be a good idea to learn more about autism so that you can not only interact better with the child, but also have a better understanding of what the family affected with autism is going through.