Parenting autistic children and young people can be a positive and life-changing experience. However, parenting is often challenging at the best of times and when you have an autistic child or children, they experience the world differently. Developing an understanding of autism is vital, for supporting, connecting and communicating with your autistic child or young person, who may have additional Special Educational Need and Disabilities (SEND). There are organisations available to help you and provide free advice and/or services, such as The National Autistic Society, Autism West Midlands, Kids UK, IPSEA, or your local Family Information Service.
Being a parent or carer of an autistic child or children, you may experience many emotions, from the joy of interacting and connecting with your child, relief following a long awaited for diagnosis, confusion at conflicting advice, anger at the tutting people in supermarket, and distress of managing meltdowns and expressions of extreme stress and anxiety. There is also the issue of finding the right learning environment for your child, which for many becomes an quest for the setting of choice, or additional support.
As a parent of autistic children, I feel passionately that parents and carers should have access to services and resources, at the time they are needed. It is important to explore access to free, or subsidised, workshops and training, provided by the local authority under their ‘local offer’, whenever this is available, such as Early Bird and Parent Training. Conferences, such as the Autism Show, provide a valuable opportunity to listen to the perspective of autistic adults. As with educational settings, services can be tailored to your individual requirements, such as:
Working with you or your child to build an understanding of autism and what it means;
Working with you to understand the needs of your child/young person, offering observation and assessment services, to identify communication and interaction needs, processing and memory skills. Cognition may also be assessed using the latest Raven’s 2 Progressive Matrices. Providing reports, advice and recommendations that might be used to support the EHCP (Education and Health Care Plan) application and review processes;
Working to identify strategies and resources that might be effective to support your child;
Working to develop an understanding of how to use resources and strategies to support communication, emotional and sensory regulation;