Advice to Parents from a Young Adult with Autism

I have 27 years of experience with Autism, because I was born with it. To be able to truly help others with Autism, you have to be able to understand where the Autistic people you are trying to help – are coming from and their point of view.

I am passionate about sharing my story and offering what has helped me be successful as well as what did not work so well. To begin with, let me state that nothing I am about to say has been tested or proven to work, but then neither has it been disproven. This comes from my unique insight, hindsight, my personal experience, observations and knowledge. I think of myself as a protector of people with challenges of all types, shapes and sizes.

To be a successful parent to your children, here are my recommendations:

Relate to Your Child & Listen
Walking in your child’s shoes is key, as is patience, imagination and lots of love. In order to help your children you need to be able to relate to them, and in order to do that well, you need to pretend you are them, observe them intensely, notice everything and communicate properly. This is the only way you can make them feel good, important, needed, happy, and productive–these feelings are crucial!

Be Flexible
More than likely, you deal with behaviors that are unfamiliar and unpredictable, often with no pattern whatsoever. Keep in mind and remember that each disability is very different and has dissimilar levels, forms, and considerations, and thus requires varied approaches to counter each behavioral issue.

Don’t: Use Force
Here is something that never works with anyone- force of any kind, shape, or practice! Using force is unquestionably the wrong approach and will make everything much, much, worse for everyone involved.

Do: Be Creative
Here’s a better way: let’s say your child loves music. In the beginning, instead of as a reward, use their chosen music to motivate them. For example, if you are trying to make the bed, you can explain how neat their favorite singer is and how they truly care about making their own bed every morning. Be creative and talk to your child with expression, making your case immensely believable. Or pretend that making the bed will make the bed happy! You could do this by making it seem as though the covers, sheets and the bed have feelings and that they need your help. They want to be with each other very closely. The bed is freezing and needs the covers and sheets to keep it warm.

Alternatively, turn the task into a challenge or test. Make it as though it is an NBA game, each player tries their very best because they want to win. Use that analogy to make them believe that making the bed is a very hard thing to do. And challenge them to accomplish that feat. Hopefully they will want to prove you wrong.

I hope my suggestions can help someone with autism in your life by providing powerful and useful keys to unlock the doors and shackles that restrain them. The important thing is the tactic, the strategy, the plan and the communication you use.

A wise person once said, “You get more flies with honey than with vinegar.” This may be especially true when you’re dealing with the challenges of parenting children with autism.

Thank You and Happy Parenting!

Sean has a passion for sharing his story and aspires to educate, inform, inspire, and most of all teach others with autism (including their friends and family) how to rise above the condition to be your best self! Find out more at his website: iknowautism.org/  

Click here to hear Sean’s interview on All Autism Talk