Autism, known clinically as Autism Spectrum Disorder, is a challenging disorder to manage in children. When your autistic child becomes a teenager, the already difficult circumstances might only exacerbate and become even more challenging. The following are tips, perhaps reminders, when the daunting task of parenting becomes overwhelming.
Get involved in a community of professionals and other parents of autistic children
The support you receive from other parents who know and understand the small and large challenges of raising an autistic child can be deeply nourishing. The frustrations you experience might not feel as overwhelming when you know that you are not alone in them. Also, talking with professionals such as school counselors, teachers, behavioral therapists, and others can provide you with information that can further your education on teen Autism including any recent advancements in treating this disorder.
Seek assistance from a mental health professional.
It is important as a parent to talk about your feelings, including your anger, frustration, disappointments, and ambivalence. It’s likely that you experience a wide range of emotions. Talking about them with your spouse and/or a therapist can provide the support you need to continue to provide loving and nurturing care for your teen.
Direct your anger at the disorder, not your child.
When your teen exhibits difficult behavior, and circumstances become more and more challenging, you might feel your anger grow exponentially. You might find yourself fighting with your spouse or other family members because of your teen’s disorder. However, remember that when the challenges of autism are present, it is difficult for everyone. Each of your family members, your spouse and your other children are feeling the tumultuousness too.
Find a life outside of Autism.
Go out with friends who don’t have autistic children. Spend quality time with your spouse. Although having a teen with Autism can feel like it requires every waking moment of your day, remember to enjoy life too. Don’t only be the parent of an autistic child, remember to be a spouse, a friend, a professional, and any other life roles you play that bring you joy.
Be an advocate for your teen.
Although it might be difficult, try not to compare your child to other normally developing adolescents and to non-autistic children. Instead, see the advances, the small achievements, and the accomplishments that your teen is making. Although they are small victories, they are deeply meaningful experiences for the development of your child. Also, points for comparing your child to other teens.
When your autistic child enters adolescence, the already demanding role of a parent becomes even more necessary. The above tips are meant to provide support and encouragement when raising your teen feels overwhelming, yet when he or she needs the most.