Parenting A Child On The Autistic Spectrum Is Testing
Parenting Any Child Is No Easy Task…
But for me and many other parents like me, parenting a child on the autistic spectrum has been one hell of a roller coaster ride, and one that I can see no end to (I’ve never even liked roller coasters!).
There are times when I think I can see light at the end of the tunnel, in regards to trying to get certain behaviours to ‘click’ or ‘unclick’ in my son. And there are times when I feel at a loss and disheartened.
My smile really is that bad.
A lot of the difficulties are due to the fact he is now eighteen and very set in his ways; had he been diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome at a much younger age things may have been different (they also may not have been), as he (and us) would have got the help and support that families need when they have a child with an autistic spectrum disorder.
If you suspect your child of having an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), don’t hesitate to seek help or to get a second opinion if you aren’t happy with the first… Take it from someone who knows!
My son has Aspergers Syndrome (with added extras) and parenting a child with Aspergers means that we have to be constantly one (or two) steps ahead. The thinking for our man/child never seems to stop (to be fair I can only speak for myself, but I can’t imagine it’s too much different for other parents).
I liken it to parenting a three year old with the mind of an adult (Gregs is eighteen and an ‘adult’ in so many ways and not so in just as many ways!).
It’s The Simple Things…
That most of us take for granted, that I am battling to instill in my son (and have been for most of his eighteen years).
Things like personal hygiene he thinks he grasps, but what he does he doesn’t do properly. For example, he will happily go through the motions of brushing his teeth twice daily, but the only teeth he seems to brush are his front two… How do I know? They are the only real white teeth in his mouth. His coordination is terrible (but his gag reflex has got much better – yaeee!), so where he thinks the brush is and where it actually is are two very different places.
Not his fault? Maybe… But will he take advice (like ”why don’t you look in the mirror whilst brushing your teeth” – answer ”Mum!” with eyeballs rolling)… No.
He will sometimes get out of the shower still sporting soap suds, but when it is pointed out to him he won’t get back in the shower to finish rinsing, because he has already rinsed. I suppose I should look on the bright side; at least he showers daily!
We have a similar problem with clothes too. If they don’t look dirty, how can they be dirty? Again there is a positive side; he will change his underpants daily!
Getting him motivated is a challenge and a half (the positive side being; I know that goes for many teenagers not on the autistic spectrum!).
Every morning his alarm goes off at eight o’clock and every morning he jumps out of bed, turns it off, checks his notifications (something groundbreaking may have happened in the sporting world) then hops back into bed. I don’t often go in and get him up (I enjoy the peace too much), but when he does get up I try to broach why getting up earlier would be a better (”I didn’t have time”, is a phrase he uses often), so you can probably see what angle I take on this.
Eating And Drinking…
Are also problematic areas for him. He doesn’t seem to feel hunger or thirst like most of us do and because of this will go hours without eating or drinking.
We’ve tried working with time prompts, using pegs, alarms and written planning, which do seem to help for a short length of time, but as soon as I take a step back and let him ‘go it alone’, so to speak, he settles back into his normal way again.
Since leaving school his breakfast of choice has been two pieces of toast. I know this stems from having to have a decent porridge/ cereal/ Greek yogurt and fruit type breakfast when he was at school and being allowed to have toast at the weekends, when he didn’t have school. Now that he no longer goes to school, in his mind breakfast HAS to be toast (because he isn’t going to school).
When Parenting A Child On The Autistic Spectrum…
Patience really is a virtue and life seems to run on a loop (think Ground Hog Day), but try not to lose sight of the light. Not easy I know. Just writing this post has helped me see a little glimmer of light at the end of that sometimes too dark and too long a tunnel.
Do you have a child with and autistic spectrum disorder? Do you find parenting a challenge? I would love to know that I am not alone.
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