I remember one of the first nights after bringing my son, David, home.
I was running on pure adrenaline.
But I hadn’t anticipated how tired I would be without sleep, and selfish I can be when I don’t sleep!
Have you ever “lost it” when you’re tired? No one told me how close to “losing it” I could be when holding a 9 lb. baby who can scream louder than I can!
The screaming wasn’t so bad at first. But after getting up for the third time in a night, I could feel myself just wanting to yell at him to, “Shut up!”
Gratefully, I didn’t become one of those parents who shakes his baby to death, but the scary thing was, I could empathize with a parent who might do that!
Infancy is just the beginning of a lifetime of parenting.
My goal, in this article, is to increase your confidence in your parenting insights and abilities.
In particular, I’ve searched for parenting advice from Asperger/autism parents.
Every parent (whether autistic or not) can learn from these autistic parent authors’s insights.
Parenting Advice from Aspergers/Autism Parents
Celebrate Your Child’s Aptitudes
John Elder Robison talks about how he let his son experiment with different interests. But he also had to learn to let go of his own fixed ideas of what might be best for his son.
I have desires for my son to be independent, make money, have a stable career. But I also need to let him freely explore different areas of interest.
Know How Being on the Spectrum Can Affect Your Parenting
“Knowing that I was on the spectrum, and more importantly what that meant in terms of sensory sensitivities, emotional regulation and managing stress, would have been a tremendous help.”
Cynthia Kim , in Motherhood: Autistic Parenting
Get to know the positive aspects of autism, as well as the challenges. You can leverage your positive characteristics. And when you know the challenges, you’ll be able to better adjust to those challenges.
Try Not To Compare Yourself Unfavorably to Neurotypical Moms and Dads
In doing her research for her articles and speaking to other autistic mothers, Cynthia Kim found that
“Nearly every woman who shared her story for this article felt that she was a good parent and yet most said they experienced alienation, guilt, depression, loneliness or inadequacy when comparing themselves with ‘other moms.’”
Connect With Other Autism Parents and Learn From Them
Moms, reach out to Cynthia Kim, Shawna, and Jeannie Davide-Rivera, and Renee.
Dads, reach out to John Elder Robison and Brian King.
And though he is not on the spectrum, I would recommend that neurotypical fathers reach out to Dr. Robert Naseef, PhD, and check out the Lost and Tired blog.
Recognize You May Benefit from Your Neurotypical Partner’s Insights
Sometimes the challenges of both of you and your child having Aspergers may result in fixed ideas and equal frustrations. It may take speaking to a person who’s not locked in with an alternative point of view to break a stalemate.
Neurotypical Parents: Recognize You May Benefit from Your Aspergers/Autism Partner’s Insights
Since you aren’t autistic, it’s going to be harder to understand your child’s autistic point of view at times. Here’s where your partner can step in and help you understand where your child is coming from.
Invite Your Child/Young Person To Become More Confident
Brian King shared this tip.
Notice what your child is good at, and be very specific about what she or he is being successful with.
For example, “David, the art that you drew was fantastic. The attention to detail and the shading was intricate and beautiful”
Brian King noticed that one of his sons was particularly effective with helping out around the house, and let him know.
Raise your expectations for your child, while at the same time providing a high amount of emotional support.
I personally am struggling to learn how to be better with authoritative parenting, but the more I struggle, the more I learn.
You can, too.
Parenting Advice Resources
Here’s an article I wrote a while back, How to Be a Dad to Your Aspergers Child.
Mark Hutten (not an Aspergian/autistic parent) produces high quality content at his blog, My Aspergers Child. Read his article, Parents with Asperger Syndrome.
Raising Cubby, by John Elder Robison.
Learn from John Elder Robison’s experiences raising his son, Jack.
The Parenting Forum at Wrong Planet. Here’s a place to connect with other parents on the autism parenting journey. This forum doesn’t distinguish between autistic and non-autistic parents, so be aware of that going in.
Embrace Parenting as an Adventure of Self Discovery
These are my own two cents. How we think about parenting affects how we approach and feel about parenting. If we dread the term, we’ll dread dealing with our kids. However, if we can think about parenting as a way to become better people ourselves, and if we develop an open mind, we can learn all the skills we need to be better parents.
Over to You! Please share some of your favorite parenting advice resources with me in the comments below!
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc