It’s a real shame that so many wonderful parents think they can’t handle their autistic child well. Having the impression that your normal maternal or fatherly instincts might be wrong when it comes to interacting with your own child can be strange and depressing.
But most of the time, parents go too far in the opposite direction and stop having any natural interactions with their children because they worry that if they go back to normal parenting and maybe just play games and talk stupidly to their children, they will lose precious intervention time.
Parents need a whole new set of parenting skills because children with autism don’t enjoy simple games like hide-and-seek, peek-a-boo, or follow-the-leader, and they probably won’t come running to you when you call to them. If they aren’t careful, this can make their already stressful lives even more stressful.
Your child may need help in some areas, but every child also has special strengths. Believe it or not, strengthening areas of weakness can be accomplished by focusing on one’s strengths. Let’s say, for instance, that your child enjoys reading but does not play. Start using books for imaginary play rather than forcing him to play with a toy he doesn’t like. Pretend to carry out the actions of the book’s characters. Make use of the books to practice academic and social communication skills.
Keep in mind to celebrate every improvement, no matter how insignificant it may be. Also, don’t forget to celebrate your child’s growth with his or her loved ones.
Last but not least, remember that every child needs and wants to be loved by his or her parents. Whether it’s watching TV together or sharing an ice cream cone, any activity you and your child enjoy is priceless. If you only see yourself as his therapist, you need to find a way to return to being a loving parent again if you want to help your child learn. While it is true that changing some of the ways you interact with him is necessary to help him learn, maintaining the fundamental loving relationship between you and your child is just as important.