Do you know an Autism Parent? Here’s how to support them!

posted in: Social Issues | 31

The rate at which special needs cases are being detected lately in India is alarming. It’s not that the rate of occurrence is the only thing that’s rising, but awareness of developmental disorders is also raising and more and more kids are getting benefited out of early detection & intervention, whether it be Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Speech Delay or any other form of neurological or mental development disorder. It’s good to see parents going out of their way to make sure that their special needs kids are not missing out on anything and get equal exposure as compared to any typical kid. But then what about the parents? Has anyone ever thought about them & their needs too?

 

Who doesn’t remember the recent case of a mother throwing her 7-year-old special need daughter from 4th floor resulting in death of the child! It was sad, outrageous and act of inhumanity. This act can in no ways be justified, no matter how difficult the life of the mother must be raising a special need child. But can we for one moment acknowledge the fact that YES, Life is difficult for special needs parents! Like, REALLY difficult. Being in a situation where she was can easily lead a person to experience clinical depression and depression can make you do inhuman things, things you could never imagine you would do otherwise, things beyond your own control!

They need support, compassion, courage & above all they too need counselling. But most of them are shamed & isolated. So here, today, I want to help you all who want to be there for them but don’t know how – these few points might help you to help & connect with them better. Let me begin with how you can support Autism Parents.

 

Autism Family

 

  • Ask them what you want to know. If you are avoiding talking to an Autism parent just because you do not know enough about the condition, ask them. No special need parent will take offense unless you say something offensive to them. Learn about what to say or not say to the kid to make sure the parents & the kid is comfortable.
  • It’s OK to be quiet – A lot of times we don’t know what to say in situations like when a kid has a meltdown or a tantrum episode. It’s better to just be there for them and be quiet in case you don’t know what do say or do.
  • Be Empathetic – Sometimes all a special need parents need is someone to listen & offer them a HUGE cup of coffee.
  • Have Patience – It is difficult for even parents to figure out ways of communicating with a special needs child in a way that it reaches them. If you feel you aren’t able to connect with the child, be patient & keep trying.
  • Don’t ask personal questions – Knowing about someone’s condition is absolutely essential, but getting into personal space is not cool. Questions like “How are you managing the finances?” “Would you ever plan for another child?” “Did you vaccinate your child?” etc are not at all needed unless you are that close to the parent that they wont mind you asking.
  • Offer to help – We all get overwhelmed at times, and with special needs kids, their therapies & interventions, it might be exhausting for the parent. Offer to help in whatever way you can. If it’s not possible to help with the child, offer to help with other errands & odd jobs that might give a little breather to the parents.
  • Be kind & Be there – Just knowing that people are sending a Hello just because they care for you is sometimes more than enough

Let’s make special need parents feel not left out but included, loved & cared for. There’s nothing more they ask for anyways!

 

 

 

 

Suggested Reading about Autism & Development Delay

To know about Early Signs of Autism, click HERE (click for direct link)

Also read about other general Red Flags – Developmental Delay in Infants & Toddlers HERE (click for direct link)

 

 

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31 Responses

  1. Thank you very much for writing this. When I read about depressed mother killing her own kid, exactly this is what I thought, parents too need external help as much as kids do.

    • The Dreamer Mum

      The idea was your’s Shashi. Only the words are mine. I hope to write more on the topic to spread awareness… You keep motivating me and we will change the world – one person at a time!

  2. thanks for sharing this post I am sharing with a freind. She is going thru the phase her child is autistic We really need to empathize with parents.

  3. Every child is special to their mother – what must have been the mental condition of that mom to do such a heinous crime. Very good tips for other parents

  4. Be kind & Be there – Just knowing that people are sending a Hello just because they care for you is sometimes more than enough.

    Many people don’t understand the importance of this point. Thank you for sharing this and the other points through the post. I think it will be very useful.

  5. pythoroshan

    A good read, especially on a difficult topic that even I as a doctor struggle to deal with at times

  6. You’ve handled such a touchy subject so sensitively. Thank you for sharing this.

  7. Yes. I do know parents of special need children and we have a group of people who does awareness sessions here. My sister is also a special need child. So I know the agony, stress and emotional trauma a family will go through at one point or the other. But like you said, to know there are people around to care and to be just there is the biggest relief.

    • The Dreamer Mum

      What location are these awareness sessions conducted. I would love to be a part of such group if it’s anywhere nearby to me.

  8. Thanks Shalu for this article. I will share this one of my friend. I will also read your other articles on autism and share those. I understamd your concern to empathise and understand the parents of a special need child too.

  9. I had a friend whose kid was autistic and I have seen her working hard with him. She used to just call me and would talk. She needed a listener that time. A friend I should say.

    The last point is very very important. Knowing that someone is there is so much relaxing and a moral booster.

    Thanks for the wonderful post as always. 🙂
    Keep writing.

  10. I know a parent to a 14 year old Autistic child and yes so many times when I meet her, I am at loss of words on what to talk about. I agree that no such parent takes offense on talking about their child’s condition. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  11. Well that case that I read about in the newspaper was so horrifying yes we all need to have a very supportive approach towards such parents

  12. I know one such mother whose son is an autistic but I love the way she keeps courage and loves him. It’s very difficult but when I see her, I feel great respect for. Very sensitive and touching post

  13. It’s difficult for both the kid who are dealing with their problems and it’s more difficult for parents for mom specially who have to take care each and everything for their abnormal kid. When I heard this news of depressed mother I felt very bad for more about mother as she was to much forced by the circumstances as she done this crime with her own daughter.

    • The Dreamer Mum

      The whole purpose of writing these awareness articles and trying to get acceptance for special needs kids is defeated the moment we start using words like normal or abnormal for any person, whether it be kids or grown ups. I feel sorry and my heart bleeds if you think special needs kids are abnormal in any way.

      • So this article has done its job already. I now know that the term used by society is wrong and should not be used in any which way. This is how most of the people unintentionally hurt austim parents. I do not know any austim parent but would keep your words in mind in spreading awareness.

  14. I’m a little upset to read the words like ‘abnormal’ and ‘crime’ being used in one of the comments. Even people who aren’t that aware or haven’t been exposed to this knowledge don’t use these terms and in fact are very careful about what they say. Special needs kids are not abnormal. In fact we need to stop using such terms altogether when it comes to children or adults. And in no way this was a ‘crime’ for the parents. Ask them… their kids are nothing short of a blessing and the light of their lives!

    • The Dreamer Mum

      And that’s what this whole article is all about. It’s mindsets like these – your child is abnormal or not normal and thus is not worthy being friends with my kids – this leads to all those depressed parents & kids going to the extent of committing suicides and killing others.

  15. Thanks for sharing this post! One of my mommy friends is going through a tough time. This post gave me courage to talk to her❤Thanks again!

    • The Dreamer Mum

      It would mean a lot for her, believe me. Go ahead and be with her, she’ll be eternally thankful for people like you.

  16. We all need support. The parents and the child both would have their own set of problems. We can always help and be kind. Thanks for sharing this article

  17. Yes I completely agree you should never ask personal questions to parents who have autistic kid.
    You have beautifully touched the sensitive topic

  18. karuna chauhan

    Everyone needs a hug sometimes. Just because we have become parents doesnt necessarily mean we are stronger. I appreciate parents of kids who need much more love and support and it can be tiring and depression really is a sickness. We need to support each other

  19. One more point that I wish to add is DO NOT STARE …that stare at times creates a sense of irritation for the parents. Its only the support from the society that they look forward to. They already have a lot to manage, help them with being inclusive.

  20. Sharing this post with some one close who has an autistic child.. N i knoe how difficulf her life is

  21. First of all, Kudos to you Shalu for taking up this topic. It’s true that people often compare the plight of the autistic kid and what all she must be missing out on, but nobody pays heed to what the life of her parents might be. I know these two are very different things, but being an epileptic I’m often asked how my life is and how I recoup after a seizure. The truth is that my life is a bit difficult of course, but I didn’t have to do much except doing my job well. Everything else was taken care of by my support system – my family and friends. The same thing was shown in the movie, My Sister’s Keeper.
    When we hear of such cases where parents or siblings have attempted to kill or harm their autistic family member, we are filled with rage and forget that we are somehow the contributors in the act. Having worked with Clinically depressed people, I know how people isolate them and how they wish someone was just there – no talking, no empathising, no pity, no cheering up – just being around.
    so, you’re right to question people on why they isolate the parents of autistic child. They’ll not be jealous of your functionally and mentally normal kid or wish bad things upon her. They’ll be happy for you. I can say that for a fact because my cousin has an 8-years-old autistic son and an elder daughter who is a scholar. Yes, two extremes in a family of gold-medallist doctors and all she appreciates about her circle is that they didn’t exclude her and her kids after the news of autism was confirmed.
    Please do write more of such stuff.

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