There’s a saying here in the South: “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” — Janeen Herskovitz, MA, LMHC
Guessing and knowing for sure that a child has an autistic disorder can affect the relationship between a family differently.
When you only have an inkling about it, it is effortless to forget the possibility and treat the kid like a healthy son or daughter. You can delegate little chores to them, similarly teach them as the other kiddos, and become a disciplinarian if they exceed the boundaries.
However, once a psychiatrist brandishes an official report confirming that your child indeed has autism, then the household dynamics may change. Most of the errands suddenly get transferred to the siblings; the autistic one has special needs that the parents should take care of as well. If the kids without autism cannot understand what’s up or your marriage suffers due to the child’s disorder, the once strong family relationship is in jeopardy.
We often forget about those who provide care for people with autism. Far too many times, the support that parents and other caretakers need to help provide adequate care for their loved ones are overlooked. — Bridgette Montgomery, LCSW
Nonetheless, feel free to try improving your bond through the tips below.
- Spend Time With Every Kid
The non-disabled children tend to feel unimportant when their parents have their hands full with the autistic offspring. Although the former is probably aware of why that is the case, it must still be difficult for a youngster to gain the adults’ attention all for themselves rarely. Thus, the average kids might act jealous around gatherings or start rebelling.
To prevent that, moms and dads should allocate at least an hour within the day to focus on every child. Take personal responsibility in helping them with their homework, instead of just letting the older kids teach their younger brothers and sisters. During weekends or school breaks, you may also go out with one kiddo at a time and do their activity of choice together.
- Don’t Miss Out On Traditions
The sweet relationship of a family may turn bland or bitter as well if you skip the things you used to do as a unit before the autism diagnosis. For sure, you merely want to ensure that your child with disability stays calm and safe in an environment that’s familiar to them. However, whatever will happen to the idea of growing as a family and learning through the first-hand experience if you will miss out on traditions?
Understanding the trigger factors of your autistic child may solve this issue. You can set new bonding activities or locations afterward that won’t make the condition flare up and allow the other kids to have fun. While it may require some trial-and-error in the beginning, it will not be long before you figure out what traditions you should let go of or keep for the sake of everyone.
If the child gets frustrated with other people touching their toys, slowly but steadily increase the amount of interaction you have that involves taking things from them. — Heather Gilmore, MSW, BCBA
- Heal Together
When the autism news takes a toll on the mental health of the family members, especially the parents, the situation is already too dangerous to take for granted. Mind you, having a depressed mother or father is much graver than having an autistic child as a sibling. It is as if the rock you leaned on for years is crumbling right before your eyes, and you do not know how to stop it.
The thing is, considering talking within the family has a minor impact on their mentality, you may seek group counseling to heal together. This way, you will get to gain more knowledge about the emotions that your spouse – or children – may be concealing and find out how to cope with similar problems in the future.
Your relationship as a family should never suffer just because one of the kids has an autistic disorder. In truth, the news ought to make you stick together so that life will not be miserable for all.