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I recently came across an article about 10 Questions You Should not Be Afraid to Ask Autism Parents. I posted it to Facebook and a friend of mine asked if I would do a post answering those 10 questions. Here is that post and my answers!
Here’s What to Ask Autism Parents!
1. What is Autism?
This is a tough one because it’s hard to explain Autism in just a few minutes. Autism is different for every single autistic child. There is a saying that goes like this: “If you have seen one autistic Child, you have seen one autistic child.” It’s very true.
I think parents like to be asked this question because it shows that family or friends are taking an interest. They want to learn and help and the can only do that by understanding first. This is much appreciated.
If you want to know more about autism and what it is please see this article: 10 Common Autism Terms That You Should Know or check out my Pinterest board of autism articles that I have collected: Autism.
2. How Old was Your Child When They Were Diagnosed with Autism?
My son had problems from birth. It was not something that came up all of a sudden like some autistic children. However, he was not diagnosed until he was 2 year old. Only seven months ago…
His pediatrician actually suspected sooner at about 18 months, and sent us to a specialist, but the specialist ignored what I said and insisted that he was fine. If you want to find out more about how we found out and what the diagnosis entailed please check out these posts: A Mother’s Intuition and Diagnoses and Decisions.
3. Do You Prefer to say “Child with Autism” or “Autistic Child”
Honestly, I was surprised to see this one on the list. Maybe I am still really new to the autism world, but I never really thought about this and to be honest they seem the same thing to me. That doesn’t mean that another parent might not prefer one over the other so I think it’s always a good thing to ask!
4. How Does Your Child Communicate with You?
Not all autistic children can talk. Some may be able to say some words, some may be able to talk fully as they get older and have more therapy. Adam communicates through a mixture of signs, whining, pointing, and grabbing our hand to bring us to what he wants and some words. With him, it just really depends where we are and what is going on. Can he say the word of what he wants? If not, then he has to find another way to show us either by pointing, or bringing us to see what he wants. He uses whining/crying a lot which can be frustrating for us as parents, but it does tend to get our attention.
The other night we were about to leave to go out and we were gathering all our stuff up to go in the car and Adam was whining. He makes a sound that is like “uh uh uh” to get our attention. I realized he was trying to tell us something and asked him questions until he said, “Yay!”- his way of telling us we got it right!
5. What Activities Does Your Child Like?
Some autistic children like to do or play with certain things over and over. They are “fixated” on certain things. But that doesn’t mean they don’t like regular activities that your child wouldn’t like too! Adam loves trains and cars. That is his go-to and he could spend hours (and has) pushing them around the house, the doctor’s office or wherever we may be! He also loves most activities that other kids like too: playing outside, watching tv, and playing with friends.
The only thing that would be different for him are places and or things that have loud noises or too many people. For example, we have a place called, “Monkey Joe’s” here. It’s one of those places that have the big blow up slides and bouncy houses. He likes to go there occasionally, but sometimes it is too loud for him or there are too many people there and it’s too overwhelming. We just try to go at times where we know there are not a lot of kids and we don’t push him to do anything he doesn’t want to do.
6. What School Does Your Child Go To?
Many children with autism got to special schools or attend special classrooms within a school. Adam will be starting school this fall in a special needs classroom. It will be a short program that is only a few hours a day, but I know it will be good for him to be around other children and to learn some new things. They also will be doing some therapy with him.
7. What Therapy Has Made the Most Difference?
Right now that’s a hard question to answer as Adam is in speech therapy, feeding therapy, occupational therapy, and ABA therapy. He has made improvements in all of them, but if I had to pick, I think I would say occupational therapy followed closely by feeding therapy. Occupational therapy is the therapy needed to help him with all this sensory issues. Without that, it would be hard for him to make progress anywhere else.
8. How are You Doing?
This is a good question to ask because it shows you care. Raising a child with autism can be very stressful on the parents and on a family and marriage. How am I doing? I am doing good. I have my good and my bad days. Days where I just don’t know what to do with Adam and days where I am so happy at the progress he is making. Getting counseling and being on anxiety medicine for my anxiety disorder is a major help to me. Having good friends who are there for me and are willing to listen is also a big help in my life.
9. What Can I do to Help You?
There are so many things I could say about this, but the top three I would appreciate and I think any autism parent would appreciate are these:
- Babysitting – With as many appointments as we have, it’s always nice to have a sitter come and play with Adam so I can just clean the house, go out and run errands or go to other appointments, and go on a date night. We have a sitter who is wonderful and we have had several people offer with this so we appreciate it a lot!
- A Meal – Again with as many appointments as we have and with how tiring that on top of parenting an autistic child can be sometimes a meal would be lovely. I know there have been times where we have just had to eat out because our days were so full of appointments that I did not have any time to cook a meal.
- A Listening Ear – Sometimes as autism parents we just need someone to listen. They don’t have to fully understand, but to just be there, listen, and pray for us would be a huge blessing.
10. How Can I Explain Autism to My Kids?
Honestly, this is a hard one because I am not sure what I would explain either. Yes, some children with autism can be very different and your children may have questions about it. I think the best way to do it is to do it in the privacy of your own home and find way to explain that is gentle and kind. I think maybe not even using the word “autism” with little kids but maybe saying something to the effect of: “Adam is a little different. He likes things____ particular way or he doesn’t understand ____. ” Little kids might not fully understand, but I think if done right things will still go smoothly.
What do you think? Does this cover everything or is there something else you wanted to know? Autism Parents: would you add anything else?