When a niece, nephew, or friend's child is suddenly diagnosed as autistic, it can be hard to know what to say or do. If you have an autistic child, you probably have hints or tips to help. What do you need? What drives you crazy? Are there great ways for a friend or relative to help?
- Since it is harder to provide the kind of stimulation/environment to keep our son happy for a long stretch at most people's houses, it's great if you can visit us. Friends have offered to take us out saying, "I really want to treat your family to a nice meal." Honestly - the treat is the visit with you, one we won't enjoy as my husband and I tag-team each other taking our son outside to keep him occupied while the others eat. Come to our house - we'll order in and our son will happily show you his artwork and the newest computer game while munching on pizza. That would be a treat!
- —Guest Deborah Sale-Butler
- As was said by "Still the Same Kid," joke with him, laugh with him, and as someone else said, don't ask him about school but ask him/her what's he/she is interested in. Above all, remember they are special in God's eyes too.
- —Guest email@example.com
Don't make the parents guilty
- It's already overwhelming for the parents to deal with autism. Don't make the parents guilty about not spending more time with friends. They just chose to stay and spend more quality time with the kids.
- —Guest Christa
- my son is 10 years old and is classicial autistic adhd, slight retardation and sensory perseption disorder. i noticed that there are 3 big things you really have to watch for with autistic children i call them the three no no's of autism. they are atracted like magnites to water, lights, and heights they see water they want to jump in they can watch a light or camp fire or any thing that gives off light for hours and heighs they love heighs looking down and some times if you are not careful they will do dangerous stuff with the heights. every autistic child is different but that is one thing that is the same with all of them
Be an understanding friend
- Most importantly, as a friend, don't turn your back and become a ghost, we still need you to be part of our life and our son's life. At times like these, we need our loved ones to be around more then you will ever think.
- —Guest Holly
- Find out what you can about autism and greet the child in the same way every time. Don't ask them 'normal' questions about school, friends and stuff- ask them about their interests.
- —Guest Coralie
Still the Same Kid
- Please, do me a favor...remember that my kid is still the same kid he was BEFORE the diagnosis. Yes, we now have a new "Reason" for why he does what he does; but he still is the same kid you knew yesterday. Please don't look at him as if he's changed. He hasn't--the diagnosis is what's different. He still needs you to joke with him the way you did, ask if he wants to try that cookie, be allowed to wander without judgement, etc...in fact he needs it now even more. And by the way, I'm still the same old me; but with another parenting issue to figure out. Don't treat me any differently either. Now more than ever, I will need something beyond autism as well.
- —Guest Sharon
Don't be Afraid
- I know some of my friends and family are afraid they can't "handle" taking care of her since the diagnosis. The diagnosis doesn't change the child, but it only gives you better tools on how to deal with the different challenges.
"safe space" for the child
- Make sure the child has his/her own space and things everywhere you need to go. I furnish a bean bag like chair and a small bag of toys for all the families' houses that we have to go to and ask that when we do come over there is not to much excitement. Toys that are bright and move a lot(spinning tops with lights) and such can help to keep the child calm. To have something that the child always expects to be there helps with there lashing out. Explain to people/children they cannot intrude on that child's "safe space" it is to job of the parent of an autistic child to keep ALL around safe and if these boundaries aren't kept up your/other children can get hurt. A stroller can help to keep up the space boundaries as well. If you need, rap the child in a blanket firmly and place in the stroller to help with sensory piece. I have Aspergers and my son is autistic along with a niece and nephew. These things help us everyday. Those who don't understand or care to, have to be sadly avoided.
- —Guest Neka
Be a friend
- Coming to see us is a massive help as our lives can get very lonely. Listen and try not to judge us as we are doing the best we can. Stay for a coffee, don't be a stranger!
- —Guest Kirsty
- Just be there to listen! Ask what you can do to be of support. More than anything, call more often, don't shy away!
- —Guest Amber