As a special needs parent, whether the child is five or fifteen, they
struggle day in and day out but rarely talk about it. But the daily
struggle is just as real as autism is. What you don’t know is that they
want you to understand and aren’t afraid to talk about it. In fact,
there are many things they wish you knew:
1. Don’t feel awkward.
Sure, individuals with autism may need to be treated a little
differently, but there’s no need to feel awkward or uncomfortable around them.
2. Special needs means intelligent. Those
with special needs are smart, talented, creative, and thoughtful. Their
minds might work differently, but it doesn’t mean they work any less –
in fact, they tend to work more.
3. Don’t scold. No need
to scold an individual on the autism spectrum. If you see someone in the
grocery store chewing on the corner of their shirt or head nuzzling, that child is anxious and is trying to cope. Jaw-dropping reactions won’t
4. Try to empathize. A little bit can go a long
way. Parents who address their child’s odd behaviors ask others not to
judge, but rather to understand that the individual’s environment
strongly affects behavior.
5. Accept and be kind. Accept their children the way you would want yours to be accepted.
6. They want to talk about it. Parents
want to share the things their child does (the good and the bad). These
stories might even make you smile, or make your heart feel a little
fuller. They might not be the same experience as your child’s experiences, but they
are just as important.
7. They always need to be “on”.
No matter how old their child gets, their parenting needs to always be
“on”. A six hour sleep is great, but it’s not always a promise. A parent
might have other children who tell them exactly what they need, but one of them
cannot always express that. It’s that parent’s job to understand.
8. They feel guilt – a lot. They
feel guilty when their daughter’s friends are over – that her brother
might embarrass them. They even feel guilty expressing that they feel
9. They worry often. Parents with children on
the autism spectrum worry they’re not doing enough, that what they’re
not doing is right. They worry that they caused the autism. “When he
fell as a baby, was this the result?” “Will my sweet boy ever be able to
live on his own?” “When we die, who will be here to take care of him?”
The fears are tremendous and deep, and we just need you to respect that.
10. Parents want you to talk to your child about theirs.
Let your child know that theirs will do something differently, and that
it has nothing to do with intentional bad behavior, age, or maturity.
Your son or daughter might see mine in a bad light – you can change that
by just having an honest conversation about it.
11. Ask questions.
Parents don’t mind. If you’re curious to know something – ask. It’s far better
than judging without knowing. They may even learn from your questions.
At Spectrum Strategies, we understand parent’s needs and wants for their
child. We also know that these children have bright futures ahead of
is focused on training young adults on the Autism Spectrum to
accomplish life and career goals, no matter how big or small. Founder of
Spectrum Strategies and professional coach Debra Solomon believes that
through determination and commitment, every client has the ability to
live life to the fullest potential.