11 Parenting Advice Tips from Autism Adults

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. -Frederick Douglass

parenting advice

Your kids require you most of all to love them for who they are, not to spend your whole time trying to correct them. – Bill Ayers

Have you ever wished you could time travel?

If I could time travel, I would go back in time to share some life tips with my younger self.

For this article, I wanted to find the best parenting advice I could for you, my readers, who are parenting your AS children.

So, in a sense, I relied on time travel.

I reached out to autistic and Aspergers adults with the question, “What one piece of parenting advice would you give to parents who are raising their autistic/Aspergers child?"

By reaching out to these acquaintances, I was tapping into their past experiences, both positive and negative, to glean parenting advice you and I can learn from today.

I reached out to autistic adults because:

They’ve been through it: both the good and the bad. As autistics, they experienced both the successes and failures from their parents.

As autistics, they offer the best perspective for our kids with autism. If we are not autistic, who can better share autism advice than autistic adults?

They are aware of neurotypicals stereotypes about autism that could hurt our kids. As much as I love my son, I’ve had to grow in better understanding autism. Along the way, I had to admit to and discard autism/Aspergers myths that would harm my son.

11 Parenting Advice Tips

1. Understand that your children are not you.

“Ethnocentrism is judging another culture solely by the values and standards of one’s own culture.” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnocentrism

As a parent, if I’m not aware of the values and standards of the autism community, I can expect that my child turn out to be a little carbon copy of me.

It’s like the high school jock who grows up, has an artistic son, and expects that son to be a professional baseball player.

Pushing our children to be who they are not can only result in discouragement and disappointment

2. Understand their sensory issues.

Aspeger Experts explain this far better than I can, so check out the following video:

Also check out Cynthia Kim’s series of articles about sensory processing.

3. Be open to the fact that you can learn as much from your child as s/he can learn from you.

If you adopt a humble and open attitude toward your children, you’ll find them returning respect to you.

In my article, “What My Son Has Taught Me About Autism and Parenting”, I share my own journey.

I hope you’ll be open to learning from your child as well.

4. Be aware of the positive characteristics of the autism spectrum

In her article, 10 Positive Traits of Asperger’s, Seventh writes about AS people being honest, living in the moment, seldom judging others, passionate, not tied to social expectations, having good memories, tending not to be materialistic, having few hidden agendas, and teaching life lessons to neurotypicals.

You can read about more positive autism characteristics here and here.

5. Believe in their abilities

Study their special interests and their strengths.

Honor their special interests by learning about them. Let them teach you about them.

As you honor their interests, they will then be open to learning about yours.

Give them opportunities to develop their abilities. If they’re great at art, enroll them in art classes. If they are musically talented, enroll them in a music class.

And so on….

6. Go to work on yourself

It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself. ~Joyce Maynard

As you and I work on personal growth, we become more self aware, and more responsible for our own strengths and weaknesses. As we grow, we will strive to increase our knowledge about autism and about parenting. And as we become better people and parents, our children will benefit from our efforts.

7. Affirm your child as a person

Always aim to ‘see’ the person/child first, whilst respectfully acknowledging the additional perspective of our being; being Autism, Aspergers or other differing ability/ies. For we will or do wish for others to see us as an individual and not seen only for our differing ability. —Louise Page

8. Take responsibility for your child’s development.

For parents the first thing is not the most important, but it is absolutely essential. Parents must accept direct responsibility for their child’s development. It cannot be left to the school system or one hour weekly visits to a therapist.

Knowledge and understanding must follow, but there is no “start” without this commitment.

-Anonymous

9. Remember that communication comes in many forms.

As far as basic communication. Being able to relate to anyone including family. Can and usually is difficult for many on the spectrum. If one discovers what ones child enjoys or excels in, or even just does a lot. Then an opportunity for the child to have something to relate to with a parent. For example I studied things for hours looking and staring every angle. One day I was given pencil and paper I knew a drawing was wanted. A relative connection was formed. Communication comes in many forms. -Anonymous

10. Control your emotions during a meltdown.

Regarding meltdowns: Before responding (unless there is an immediate safety risk) get your own emotions under control. Instead of demanding explanations and promises that it will never happen again, say something like “I see you broke the lamp. Let’s talk about what happened.”

A calm discussion will help the child understand what happened. Demanding promises only magnifies the shame when the next meltdown occurs. Consequences should be related to the incident, like helping to repair or pay for the damage… not arbitrary like confinement or extra chores.

Learning to take responsibility for one’s actions in a supportive and non-shaming environment is much more beneficial than receiving punishment.

-Anonymous

11. Set Goals While Being Aware of Boundaries

Push them, but beware of their boundaries. If they are allowed to stay in their comfort zone, they do not grow.

Also, remember the ultimate goal is to nurture a child into a self-sustaining adult. Let them fail, and be aware of it, and call them out when you know they aren’t doing their best, its a hard lesson when they hit the real world without their parents’ goggles.

-Anonymous

The Parenting Challenge: Putting This Advice to Work

There’s no point in collecting advice without putting it into practice, is there?

So here’s a parenting plan of action to help you improve your parenting.

First, review all 11 tips.

Second, choose one tip that impressed you the most, and think about how you can apply it to your parenting.

I’ll go first: Tip #8 impressed me the most. I realize that I need to take more responsibility for my kids’ development in the area of work habits. My wife and I have instituted chores for them, but inconsistently, and more recently the kids have not been doing chores. I need to expect a bit more from them (whether on the autism spectrum or not) when it comes to helping out around the house.

So I will, in the next couple of weeks, plan some family chores that both kids will be expected to participate in on a regular basis. In doing so, I hope to prepare them for the world of work beyond our home.

What are you going to put into practice in the next couple of weeks? Share in the comments below!

  • a meltdown is not a tantrum
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I'm Steve Borgman. I'm a licensed clinical professional counselor and blogger committed to bringing you hope, understanding, and solutions that you can apply to your life immediately.

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