When your child has been diagnosed with autism, many emotions clutter the mind. Emotions such as confusion, sadness, being overwhelmed, guilt (yes, guilt), and an immense amount of love are just a few. For the parent who knows nothing about this disability, it can be very daunting. For the parent who is educated on this disability, the emotions can be a little less negative, but still filled with uncertainty for the future.
One thing that can really affect you, the parent, of a child that has autism is confidence, or lack thereof. You may find yourself constantly questioning yourself, such as in the areas of care, behavior management, therapy choices, medical care, early intervention, and so much more. This is normal. Here are some ways you can boost your own confidence and know you are doing the very best you can as a parent!
Only you know your child. Period. Every child with autism is different. The spectrum of autism is vast, and your child can be on one end or the other (or in between!). With that being said, you need to assess your child’s needs in the moment. Think about your child’s needs in the present and what you can do to help, and only focus on a few at a time. For example, you may become stressed at bedtime because your child has meltdowns before bed. Think of ways you can be proactive and prepare your child for this nightly routine hours before he goes to bed. Find a way to help your child remain calm before bed and ease the nightly transition.
People that are not familiar with autism tend to glance and stare when you are having a difficult time in a public place. I can remember my son screamed every time he entered a public bathroom, due to the echoing sound of the toilets flushing. I knew this was an issue, but other people did not. He was potty trained, and I knew he had to go. Before we went into the bathroom, I would put earplugs in his ears, hold his hand at the age of four, and go into the bathroom. He would become very anxious and people in the bathroom would stare. I learned to realize that people’s stares did not mean they were “mean”, it is just that they didn’t understand. I chose to ignore the women’s stares as we went into the stall and sit with him and kept him calm. Don’t let people, especially ones that don’t understand your situation get you down.
When you deal with schools and the professionals of the schools, it is hard to confidently say what you want for your child. Once you become educated on the unique ability of autism, you may become more confident in knowing what your child needs each day. That is the wonderful thing about an IEP, or Individualized Education Plan, you have the right to say what you feel is best for your child. There is nothing that can take that away from you. Become educated on the disability, and turn your fear into something positive.
Every single parent may have times when they don’t feel confident in how they are doing things. Keep in mind that just because your child has autism does not mean that you are completely alone in lacking confidence. Many parents do. Think about the new parent that is breastfeeding. Think about the lack of confidence she may have when breastfeeding her child in public, which is completely fine to do. Think about the parent of a child who is very strong-willed and has a meltdown in the toy store. It happens. And it doesn’t just happen to parents with children that have autism. Hold your head high! Many parents, no matter if the child has a disability or not, are in the same boat!
Try not to let yourself become your own worst enemy. Give yourself some credit. Raising any child is hard work, but oh so rewarding! If you feel that your lack of confidence is getting the best of you, reach out to someone. Reach out to a family member, a close friend, your child’s teacher, or anyone you feel can give you some motivation. You’ve got this!
Listen to Jody McNamer and his experience with his struggles in confidence, and it may help you realize that you are not alone.
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