Any parent of a child with autism can tell you that they hear a seemingly endless amount of advice, opinions, and suggestions from friends, family, and even strangers who think they know what is best. Instead of trying to offer advice or what you think is best for their child, you should instead offer encouragement and support. Below are 10 different things parents of children with autism want to hear.
10 things a parent of a child with autism wants to hear:
- Your son/daughter is adorable – So often people only focus on the diagnosis and what characteristics go along with it. Instead, the focus should be on the child as a person, and not just the diagnosis.
- How are you doing? Parents of children with autism are very focused on their child and the progress they are, or are not making. Instead of always asking about the child, instead ask the parents how they are doing.
- I’ve noticed your son/daughter has really improved with ___________: Let parents know any progress you notice. As an outside observer, if you notice a child is making progress, let the parents know the improvements you have seen in their child.
- I’m here to listen: It is so important for families to have support systems. So many times parents are getting told what they should be doing or about the latest “cure” somebody read about. What is important is to actually listen without being judgmental, because unless you have a child on the spectrum, you should not be judging their current circumstances.
- You are doing a great job! Parenting a child on the spectrum is very different than parenting a typically developing child. Telling a parent who has a child with autism they are doing a good job is always a welcome compliment.
- Let me know if you need a babysitter: Finding a qualified babysitter to babysit a child with autism can be quite a challenge. Offering to babysit allows parents to go out and enjoy themselves without the worry about whether or not their child is safe.
- When can we schedule a playdate? Children with autism generally have social challenges, so finding a playdate can be nearly impossible. If you know someone who has a child on the spectrum, setting up a playdate with your child would be beneficial for both children.
- Can I help with anything? Help could come in the form of grocery shopping, picking up other children from school or an activity, cooking, helping with chores, etc.
- What else is going on in your life right now? Parents who have a child or children with autism are often completely engrossed in their child, so at times it is nice to get their minds off all of the stressors and talk about other topics.
- I know we haven’t seen each other in a while, but that is okay: It can be encouraging for parents to know that when their lives get busy they do not need to worry about whether or not their friends will still remain in their lives.