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Autism and Your Family

Autism spectrum disorders can have a huge impact on family life. It can draw couples together or push them apart; strengthen family ties or break them. Living with autism can be very difficult for families. Many parents of autistic children withdraw from friends and other family members since dealing with autism can be very exhausting and draining on a person mentally and physically. If you have a child with autism there are many support groups that can help you to deal with the life changes that come with autism.

Below are tips to help parents and families.

  1. Set priorities and make a plan. Identify the top few issues and needs for your family and then develop a plan and enlist others in achieving the plan's priorities.
  2. Intensive and ongoing interventions can have a positive long-term impact on your child. In addition to pursuing structured programming/educational options, realize that your child is learning continually. Be prepared to continually teach, coach and guide your child in simple and complex learning and social situations.
  3. You will serve as your child's case manager and lifelong advocate, so organizing information about your child is crucial.
  4. Take care of yourself and your health. You need exercise, rest, laughter and time with friends and others. Maintain your stamina. Practice staying calm and finding humor each day.
  5. Simplify your and your child's life. Establish routines and structure. Use visual supports in your home to clarify expectations and routines.
  6. Learn to be consistent with praise and positive information. Minimize negative comments and punishment. Children will not learn by being told what not to do; instead, they need continual and direct guidance on expected behavior.
  7. Work on establishing positive relationships with professionals. You will need to work together closely to resolve difficult issues. Focus your efforts on attacking problems -- not each other.
  8. Celebrate and build upon your child's interests and accomplishments. Be creative. Realize that these interests and strengths could lead to a career.
  9. Small steps may be major accomplishments for your child. Acknowledge these and celebrate.
  10. Find leisure and recreational activities that the family can enjoy together. Work with the school to teach skills that will facilitate your child's involvement in these activities.
  11. Kids grow up, so start early to encourage and enhance behaviors that will help your child become more successful as an adult. Do not encourage behaviors that will minimize opportunities.
  12. You can't do it alone, so ask for and accept help from others.
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