Parents of Children With Autism Feel Guilty
If your child is on the autism spectrum, the chances are you suffer from guilt.
Paradoxically, parents of autism spectrum kids are one of the most proactive groups that exist. While they commonly feel they’re not doing enough, these parents should be honored and commended. They’re able to cope with more in a day, a month and a year than most can conceive of coping with in a lifetime. Their resilience, creativity and persistence help their children progress and reach potential that nobody thought possible.
The next time the guilt factor sets in, keep it in perspective and remember the following points.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
You are a great parent. You are your child’s best advocate. You have a lot on your plate. Your days are often filled with a great deal of mental anguish and emotional stress. You help your child through small activities that most parents don’t even think about. You fight for services and the best class placement. It can be tiring. It can be exhausting. As you look around, you often feel that other parents are doing a better job.
Realize they think the same of you. The guilt factor impedes their life too. Parents of autism spectrum kids have a common bond. They understand, they empathize and they spur each other on. If you declare “My 6 year old dressed independently today” they rejoice with you, because they too appreciate every milestone, large or small.
Parents of children with autism have been the catalyst of some of the largest and most successful establishments for helping those on the spectrum. This is on a worldwide basis. A large number of autism schools have been driven by parents. Special education distributors and manufacturers often have parents at the helm. Researchers and educators are often parents. Non profit establishments have teams of dedicated parents who are committed to helping those on the spectrum.
You might not be part of one of these establishments but you have made a difference. It’s the combined unity of parents and a strong voice when advocating for your child that calls these organizations into being.
When your child is born you are instantly a parent. The role of a parent is to love, educate and support your child. You provide your child with values, teach right from wrong, build their self esteem and guide them to become happy, independent adults.
When you have a child with autism, you become a teacher. The role of a teacher is to educate a child. Whether it’s a small task or a large task, teachers use every opportunity to educate a child. As a parent of a child on the spectrum it’s difficult to maintain a balance. While you want your child to learn as much as possible, you also simply want to be a parent.
The next time the guilt factor sets in because you’re not teaching your child at every moment, release it immediately. Your child loves it when you’re just being a Mom or just being a Dad. While it’s perfectly fine to teach some of the time, a healthy balance leads to a healthy relationship between you and your child. Enjoy those moments with your child. Even if they aren’t typical interactions, they’re certainly fun!
On asking adults with autism “What’s the single piece of advice you would give to parents of autism spectrum kids”. The answer is almost always a unanimous “Unconditional love and acceptance.” For just a moment, view your child’s perspective. Almost every action gets corrected. Almost every behavior is modified. Method of play is considered inappropriate. Self stimulatory behavior is often halted. Your child is constantly being told to think, talk and act in a way that is foreign to his inner nature. It can’t be easy to keep one’s self esteem intact.
I certainly advocate teaching as many skills as possible to help your child function in life. However, it’s essential your child knows you believe he is perfect just the way he is. It’s simply unfortunate that others might have difficulty understanding him.
Your child should intrinsically know the reason he’s learning new skills and altering his behavior is not because you want to change him, but because it will help others relate to him, grant him acceptance and allow him to lead a more productive life.
The next time you feel guilty about not correcting your child’s behavior or mannerisms, remember that delighting in your child’s unique qualities is just as important as teaching appropriate actions.