Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that begins in early childhood. It can be a difficult disability to live with and can affect a family in many different ways. The main difficulty is that it can make it difficult for the child to communicate and express themselves in a way that can be understood. That misunderstanding occurs frequently and can be caused by new experiences, new situations, new people, and general life challenges. The difficulty of living with autism is not isolated to the person diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) but is also experienced by all of the people around the child including parents, siblings, friends, and other social groups. This article will explore some of the challenges and many of the resources you and your family will have.
Parenting a child with Autism (ASD)
As the parent of an autistic child, you may experience a range of emotions. You may feel angry, frustrated, and hopeless at times. You may feel frustrated with your spouse, or you may find yourself feeling alone. You may feel guilty or blame yourself for your child’s autism. You may feel like you are constantly trying to catch up with the rest of the parents in your area, all of whom seem to be doing so well with their children. Above all, you may feel like you need help.
It is important to know that these are natural feelings to have and that you are not alone in the struggle. Solstice Behavioral Health Center is dedicated to helping your entire family overcome the challenges of ASD with your child by providing resources such as parent training, family therapy, home-based therapy, and many other options to support you and your family.
Parent training is one of our most successful programs for support. Although as the name describes, the primary function is to introduce parents to the Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy process, it can be a great tool for all guardians and even older siblings. Finding help outside of the limited government assistance programs at your child’s school is also another hurdle that we help to overcome. Solstice Behavioral Health Center provides resources inside and outside of the facility because we understand the challenges you are going through. You will have the experience of our doctors and staff, the resources of our entire team, and the understanding of other families to help you navigate through your child’s progress.
Siblings of Autistic Children
Having a brother or sister on the spectrum can have positive and negative effects. Family size, the severity of the sibling’s impairment, age, and other factors affect how a sibling may adjust to the needs of the sibling and family.
Our most successful families have reinforced the supporting environment built on by parent training, but it is important to dedicate regular one-on-one time with each of your children. Many siblings will develop a sense of responsibility and take pride in the accomplishments of their sibling. Siblings of children with ASD are usually more tolerant of differences in people and compassionate of others with special needs. However, many siblings will also build resentment at the extra attention the child with autism receives which can also breed guilt as a sibling. Additional responsibilities and restricted social activities also add to the feeling of inequality. When interacting directly with their sibling, it is understandable that they may feel rejected by the lack of reciprocal communication. That is why it is important to nurture your neurotypical children with plenty of individual time, which can be as simple as talking together at night, going for walks, or even spending an entire day with them alone.
You can help strengthen sibling relationships by giving all of your children daily positive attention to help them feel acknowledged. Doing so sets the example of how they can relate to each other and build the trust and confidence that every family needs. Finding ways for your children to spend time doing fun things together will build their relationship and give them opportunities to strengthen their bond and practice healthy interactions and communication with each other.
Extended Family & Social Groups
Interacting with family and friends is all about relationships and communication. Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are commonly defined as communication challenges and struggling to build relationships. Your child will need an advocate to explain and spread awareness of autism and build understanding.
Your child probably craves interaction with others, but may not yet have the skills to communicate their desires with you or their excitement and interest with others. Our parent training, family therapy, and our online resources all all designed to give you and your family a place for guidance and support. We understand that a family may feel isolated because of the difficulties of taking an autistic child to other people’s homes or unfamiliar places. Regularly practicing of being in new situations, building trust among your family members and your autistic child, and utilizing the deescalation methods taught at Solstice Behavioral Health Center can reduce the stress of interaction by building your confidence and your child’s confidence in tackling new situations.