Try to see the world through your autistic child’s eyes

About one in 36 children in the US has been identified with ASD (autism spectrum disorder), a 22 percent increase from 2018. Individuals with ASD have social interaction and educational challenges and often exhibit restricted or repetitive behaviors. ASD can be found in all racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups.

Even though progress rapidly increases in understanding individuals with ASD, raising a child with Autism still is not easy. Every person with ASD has their own unique talents and strengths, but the obstacles for families remain constant as they try to navigate the complexities of their child’s behavior. As a result, the entire family may face emotional problems. For example, parents of children with ASD are twice as likely to divorce compared to parents without a child with ASD. Siblings often feel cheated because they feel their parents are spending more time with their ASD brother or sister.

When parents first learn their child is on the Autism spectrum, they dedicate their time to finding the best experts and resources for diagnoses and treatments and immerse their time in this process. 

But, what about mental health? Parents often become so focused on their child reaching educational milestones and not being bullied or rejected in school, that they can overlook the emotional toll ASD is taking on their child and the entire family.

A mental health professional with specialized training in working with ASD clients can be the missing puzzle piece. I work with ASD children and adolescents to find out what emotional challenges they are facing at school, at home and in social settings; and I look for ways to improve their sense of self-worth, manage obstacles more effectively and ultimately have a happier and healthier life. 

I may use a variety of treatment techniques to help those with ASD; there is not a one size fits all for any client; one or several can work together to improve the mental health of an ASD client.

What is most important is trying to see the world through the eyes of a person with ASD. Kids need someone to talk to who understands the world inside their bodies; their emotions, feelings and inner thoughts; someone who will listen and validate their feelings. Who is addressing how they feel and how they see the world?

Choosing the right therapist and right therapeutic approach for your child with ASD can make all the difference in your child’s mental health state.

As a parent of a child with ASD, what can you do to make life a little easier for your child?

  • Develop a more supportive and structured environment that encourages open communication among the entire family.
  • Continue to work on improving communication by using active listening.
  • Use positive reinforcement as much as possible.
  • Consider seeking therapy for yourself from a licensed therapist who specializes in working with ASD clients.
  • Take care of yourself. You need time to de-stress.

This journey with your child with ASD is a learning process. Take some time to network with other parents, do some research – there are plenty of great resources today – join an online discussion group, or talk with a therapist.

Mental health professionals can work alongside families to find the right approaches that will create a more supportive, healthy and happy environment for their child with ASD.