As we discussed in the last part, it is important to have a strong support system for so many reasons.
Some parents find it very difficult to accept the diagnosis of “autism” and keep looking for other explanations. Others can cope well enough, but we all can use guidance, and occasionally, counseling.
The Autism Society of America is a great resource for all the parents and caretakers of autistic children. Also, here are some other resources nationwide as well.
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 202-966-7300,
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 800-789-2647,
Online Asperger Syndrome Information & Support (O.A.S.I.S.)
Also, it has proven to be very important to get the parent involved with the child’s therapy for many reasons. Training the parent or the caretaker with a different method of therapy not only benefits the child, but it will enhance their learned skills.
Furthermore, it will benefit the parent; they will regain the feeling of being competent, and able to tackle most challenges; and the feeling of being in control (at least some times).
They should take advantage of social services, early intervention facilities and their providers. It is important for the parents/care takers to be able to turn to someone with their questions, fears, frustrations. Those who have these outlets, have fewer problems getting services for their children, since they are provided with a list of resources that are available and recommended for their children.
Also, it is crucial to develop effective coping skills for everyone who is involved with the care of an autistic child. There are situations that cause stress and one can not reduce, nor eliminate it. These are the times that coping strategies should be applied. These strategies can change to fit every individual and every situation.
Other factors that may have some influence on family stress and their ability to cope are their religious beliefs, cultural backgrounds, perceptions, family harmony, and their lifestyle.
For example, if the family is reacting positively toward the special needs child, then the sibling, and other members overall relationship withing the family tends to be more positive as well.
Intervention focused on parents coping skills always shows positive results. Parental training may include problem solving and decision making skills, helping parents to develop effective communication skills with their special need children as well as the rest of the family. Last, but not least parents should be taught how to access and utilize social networks.
Starting, creating and managing support groups can have a tremendously positive effect on the person as well.
Positive attitude, social support and faith in God enable caretakers to be able to face all the obstacles that they might encounter along their lifetime.
Another important resource for the caretaker to assist in coping with this difficult situation is to develop a good relationship with schools, and the therapists that are involved with the child’s care.
The parent/caretaker must take advantage of formal and informal supports. There is a saying “it takes a village to raise a child”, it is true, and this was said about Typical children. Now one must stop playing a superhero, and start thinking as a regular human being. Accepting and using help doesn’t make you any less, nor does it make you look incompetent. The opposite would make you look more as an arrogant, and inconsiderate person, with a high ego, and no care for their special needs child.
It is true most of the time, that parents know their child best, but if that parent gets so run down, how will they know if they are making the right decisions about the child’s care, or if they are giving the child all that they need and can benefit from?
This is the time when pride should never play a role in one’s life; the only pride that can be exhibited in this case is the pride of the accomplishment of the family that impacts on everyone in a greater way.
So what are the most important steps we can do?…
1).Developing and implementing home based support
2).Social services must analyze every individual family’s needs and develop a goal together with the members.
3).Develop a collaborative partnership with all professionals that are involved with your special needs child’s care.
4).Seek help from close family members, and friends. The ones who don’t have this outlet for various reasons (I know there are many of those situations), find a support group and take the time to attend their events. It will make a big difference in you and your child’s life.
Seek counseling from your religious community.
If you ever feel overwhelming anger or hopelessness choose the crisis hot line over other things.
Autism is not a death sentence, not for the caretaker, nor for the child who was diagnosed with it. We are all in it, and together we will prevail.