As a parent, discovering that your child has an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a stressful and worrying time. Most parents in this situation struggle to come to terms with the diagnosis, wondering whether their child will ever be able to lead a normal life in mainstream society.
Whilst it’s completely normal to need time to come to terms with the fact that your child is on the autistic spectrum, it’s important to realise that help and support are available, and there are plenty of positive steps that you can take to make life easier for you and your offspring.
Learn as Much as You Can About Your Child’s Condition
ASD encompasses a wide range of behaviours, so find as much information as you possibly can so that you can provide your child with the best possible support for their particular needs. Remember that you are the person best placed to understand your own child’s situation, giving you a unique insight into their likes and dislikes and what triggers certain behaviours
Children with ASD need to have structured routines, so develop a system that works for you and your child. Try to stick to a regular routine, and always use positive reinforcement techniques, praising and rewarding good behaviour and ignoring undesirable behaviour where possible.
Provide a Safe and Secure Home
With a bit of thought, it’s possible to make your home into a safe and secure environment for your child. Knowing what makes them anxious or fretful puts you in a unique position to understand the type of environment that will suit them best.
Make Time for Yourself
Caring for anyone with complex needs depletes your mental and physical energy, so it’s particularly important to be kind to yourself. Accept offers of help from friends, family and health professionals, and give yourself time and space to decompress and recharge your batteries.
Seek Out Help
As a parent you are bound to be worried about your child’s future prospects. Will they be able to lead an independent life? Will they integrate fully into society? What happens when you’re no longer in a position to be the primary carer?
Or perhaps you find your child’s behaviour simply too challenging, particularly as they go through adolescence, which is a stressful time for any family. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support, whether you are looking for a permanent residential home in Kent, for example, or just for some temporary respite care to give the rest of a family some time to relax and unwind.
Help is readily available, aided in part by the government’s initiative to provide residential care for anyone with complex needs as part of its Transforming Care agenda.
Dedicated care units, such as St. James House and Mews, a residential home in Kent, provide care and support for people with learning difficulties through their innovative Therapeutic Care plans, individually tailored to support outcomes and goals for residents.