The Benefits to Parenting a Child on the Autism Spectrum

Moms and dads of Aspergers and high-functioning autistic (HFA) kids can lead lives that are often complex, complicated by their youngster's differences. Many times such complications are imposed by others who do not understand or appreciate your child's way of being in the world.

Like all parents, you have likely done or said hurtful things to your child out of frustration or exasperation. This is typical of any mother or father, not just the parent of a youngster with Aspergers or HFA. Your frustration may stem from your child's limitations or your own challenge to cope day-to-day. You may wish your son or daughter would “snap out of it” and “get with the program.”

If you have been unable to see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty, then hopefully these “benefits” listed below will help you to recognize the profound journey that you have embarked upon as a mother or father of a child on the autism spectrum.

The Benefits to Parenting an Aspergers or HFA Child:

1. Computer technology and the Internet have revolutionized the world, and in particular, have been a blessing for the autistic youngster. As a result, it is entirely possible for your child to communicate with others around the world who are also seeking a connectedness in learning about the disorder and themselves. Through these relationships, your youngster may very well develop an enhanced confidence and comfort level about living with the condition.

2. In seeking formal and informal supports for your youngster, don't be surprised if you are both a ‘recipient of service’ and an ‘educator to others’. It may be one of your missions in life to help other parents of "special needs" children who are currently going through trials and tribulations that you have previously experienced.

3. Many mothers and fathers who survived the turmoil that an “autism spectrum diagnosis” can bring have gone on to develop wonderful support groups, products, agencies and organizations to make life easier for others. Maybe you’ll be one of these humanitarians.

4. Even if you are struggling currently, understand that you are raising a child who will likely have the ability to (a) focus intensely (on obsessions if nothing else), (b) notice details, (c) have a good memory, and (d) be a visual thinker with a unique mind.

5. Understand that without your youngster in your life, you would be a different person. As the mother or father of a youngster on the spectrum, your life has been forever changed. Maybe you have become stronger, more vocal, or more defensive in protection of your youngster and his rights. Maybe you are more tolerant and compassionate of differences in people of all kinds. In any event, you have developed emotional muscles that you never would have developed otherwise.

6. Whether you realize it or not, you and your youngster have been on quite a journey together. He has worked very hard to adapt to people, places, and things that are often very difficult to understand without your support and guidance.

7. Even if you don't see it yet, your youngster has a great desire to give back to you and others. He has a lot to offer you as well as the rest of the world – and he has every reason to assume his rightful place in the world and be recognized for his contributions.

8. Whether you see it or not, your youngster has come a long way toward becoming more self-sufficient and independent.

9. Your youngster will reflect back to you what you project upon him. Armed with your loving support, your trust and your confidence, your son or daughter will be poised for great things. And you have every reason to expect them.

10. It is very likely that you will be able to say some great things about your youngster in the not-so-distant future. For example, my child:
  • Does not get bogged-down with preconceived notions
  • Is ambitious and motivated
  • Is dependable and a hard worker
  • Is honest and trustworthy
  • Is non-biased and non-prejudiced
  • Is usually fair, just and objective
  • Is very inclusive, accepting and non-judgmental
  • Is very intelligent and knowledgeable
  • Tends to finish what he/she starts
  • Will research everything exhaustively to come to well-rounded, factual based opinions

More resources for parents of children and teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism:

Raising Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parents' Grief and Guilt

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