One Autistic Adult’s Advice to Parents of Autistic Children

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If you’re here because 1) you know me or of me, and 2) your kids have autism, then thank you. I appreciate whatever brought you this way.

But I’ll be honest about a major thing:

I’m not in your shoes.

If anything, I’d be reaching out to you for advice and guidance on parenting autistic children.

But you’re here, still.

Your wonderful kiddos are as unique as I am in our place on the autism spectrum. As the saying seems to go: when you’ve met one person with autism, then you have met one person with autism.

I want to relate, but I am a lot closer to the child you’re parenting, not a similar author.

The best I can do is articulate my own experience, one where your kids and I may overlap.

Here’s a little of that:

The tendency to hyper-focus and fixate is a lifelong thing; being pulled away from that groove still brings out an almost physically grating reaction from me. All I’ll say is pick your battles. We don’t exactly pick our obsessions.

The obsessions and enthusiasms just happen. Yeah, it can tend to be its own siloed information, but I hated being made to feel odd and different because I was the only one who was as engaged. The least you can do is engage and try to frame the enthusiasms in context, ask questions, and discuss some applicability (like Pokémon cards and sales).

Routines, routines, and routines. Our comfort is predicated on predictability. We just expect things to continue as is, and the more we can predict, the better we can adapt. But life ain’t all about that, so introduce those “timers and expectations” to help make routines for change and interruptions.

Affection ≠ “touchiness.” I do not care how difficult this one may be. Please don’t assume your kids don’t care, feel, or love, just because they keep out of touch. I didn’t get around to hugging people until I grew up, and even then, I put that on my own terms (and it’s still awkward, but important).

Kids grow up. I didn’t get a sense of being “legitimately different” until my late teen years, and that was after spending my miserable early teen years being told I acted more like an adult and feeling out of place with kids my age. Once that self-awareness kicks in, the active adaptation begins — like knowing others where may notice your stims, or that monologuing about interests loses the interests of others, etc.

You don’t grow out of autism; you grow better into handling it.

 

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