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When Your Child with ASD Does Not "Bond" Well with You: Tips for Moms

Question

How do I bond with my 6yr old son that has ASD? It's very hard for me …I need help.

Answer

Just like with any relationship, building a positive relationship between the parent and the high-functioning autistic child is one that requires work and effort to make it strong and successful. Parenting a child on the autism spectrum is a tough job, and maintaining close relationships and open communications helps to ensure parents and their children stay connected through all ages of their upbringing.

Here are 10 simple tips for enhancing the bond between parent and the autistic youngster:

1. Develop and Maintain a Special Bedtime Ritual—For younger kids on the spectrum, reading a favorite bedtime book or telling stories is a ritual that will be remembered most likely throughout their life. Older kids should not be neglected either. Once kids start reading, have them read a page, chapter, or short book to you. Even most teenagers still enjoy the ritual of being told goodnight in a special way by a parent--even if they don't act like it!

2. Eat Meals as a Family—You've heard this before, and it really is important! Eating together sets the stage for conversation and sharing. Turn the TV off, and don't rush through a meal. When schedules permit, really talk and enjoy one another. It can become a quality time most remembered by young and old alike.

3. Establish a Special Name or Code Word—Create a special name for your special needs youngster that is positive and special or a secret code word that you can use between each other. Use the name as a simple reinforcement of your love. The code word can be established to have special meaning between your son and you that only you two understand. This code word can even be used to extract a child from an uncomfortable situation (such as a sleepover that is not going well) without causing undue embarrassment to the child.
 

4. Let Your Kids Help You—Moms and dads sometimes inadvertently miss out on opportunities to forge closer relationships by not allowing their ASD youngster to help them with various tasks and chores. Unloading groceries after going to the store is a good example of something that kids of most ages can and should assist with. Choosing which shoes look better with your dress lets a child know you value her opinion. Of course, if you ask, be prepared to accept and live with the choice made!

5. Make Them a Priority in Your Life—Your special needs kids need to know that you believe they are a priority in your life. Kids can observe excessive stress and notice when they feel you are not paying them attention. Sometimes, part of being a parent is not worrying about the small stuff and enjoying your kids. They grow up so fast, and every day is special. Take advantage of your precious time together while you have it!

6. Play With Your Children—The key is to really play with your kids. Play with dolls, ball, make believe, checkers, sing songs, or whatever is fun and interesting. It doesn't matter what you play, just enjoy each other! Let kids see your silly side. Older kids enjoy cards, chess, computer games, while younger ones will have fun playing about anything...as long as it involves you!

7. Respect Their Choices—You don't have to like their mismatched shirt and shorts or love how a child has placed pictures in his room. However, it is important to respect those choices. Kids reach out for independence at a young age, and moms and dads can help to foster those decision-making skills by being supportive and even looking the other way on occasion. After all, it really is okay if a child goes to daycare with a striped green shirt and pink shorts.
 

8. Say I Love You—Tell your ASD son you love him every day -- no matter his age. Even on trying days or after a parent-child disagreement, when you don't exactly "like your child" at that moment, it is more important than ever to express your love. A simple "I love you" goes a long way toward developing and then strengthening a relationship.

9. Seek Out One-On-One Opportunities Often—Some moms and dads have special nights or "standing dates" with their kids to create that one-on-one opportunity. Whether it is a walk around the neighborhood, a special trip to a playground, or just a movie night with just the two of you, it is important to celebrate each child individually. Although it is more of a challenge the more kids in a family, it is really achievable! Think creatively and the opportunities created will be ones that you remember in the future.

10. Teach Your Faith—Teach your special needs son about your faith and beliefs. Tell him what you believe and why. Allow time for him to ask questions and answer them honestly. Reinforce those teachings often.
 
More resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
 

Should You "Push" Your Adult Child with ASD to Be More Independent?

Question

"My brother has ASD and dyspraxia. I can’t help but feeling that my Dad is halting his independence. My brother has traveled to London with my dad on average every month to spend the weekend with our mum since he was 6 my mum met them in London as the half way point and took him to her home on the Isle of Wight. Since my brother was fifteen he has traveled to the Isle of Wight from London alone (thanks to my mum encouraging his independence) this involves a coach and then getting onto a cat across to the island. He is now 20 and my dad still say's that he is not ready to travel to London alone (1 train, no changes, no underground) "London is a scary place" he said. I think my brother is capable of doing this alone easily. I asked my dad when was the last time he asked my brother if he thought he could do it alone and he replied the last time they went my brother said he preferred to have dad with him. My dad said he doesn't want to push him to do something that he's not comfortable with. I replied that sometimes everyone needs to be pushed a little, he replied "EVERYONE DOESN'T HAVE AUTISM". My brother was pushed slightly to do the second part of the journey alone and is fine with it. Is it true that you shouldn't push someone who has ASD to be more independent?"


Answer

To your dad:

The balance between holding-on and letting-go is one of the most difficult things that moms and dads have to face with their ASD (high-functioning autistic) older teens and adult children. At this time in your son's life, it may be appropriate to take more of a back seat in many instances.  While others may want you to back away, you can still keep the lines of communication open with your son and help him do what it is he is trying to do.

For all young adults, we are expected to be in their lives and out of their faces at the same time. Your ASD son may have many good opportunities to reach out to peers if he is interested. If he doesn’t know how to, while it is now inappropriate for you to set up ‘play dates’ or constantly organize his social groups, you can offer occasional suggestions and coach him from the sidelines. 
 

Keep in mind that some older ASD adolescents do not want more interaction even though their moms and dads may feel it is important for them to have it. It is important to be sure that the social goals you set up for your son include what he wants now and not just what you think he should have or be doing. 
 
He may never be the life of the party and may always be a little on the periphery, but for him this could be a comfortable place - and one that he is used to. It could provide social interaction and friendships, and yet offer a comfortable distance and not a lot of pressure. If he wants more, you can help him learn to move in and reach out for more at his own pace.

When to hold on, when to let go, when to push, and when to pull ...these are some of the themes that every parent struggles with (both with “typical” and “special” children). The outcomes for kids and adolescents are best when moms and dads and professionals work as partners with mutual respect and shared decision-making power. 
 
Moms and dads, by virtue of their bond with their youngster, are true authorities in their own right, with information to contribute that no one else has access to. Professionals, on the other hand, through training and experience, can offer expertise and a broad perspective that moms and dads alone don’t have. Each has only partial knowledge, with complete expertise possible through team work (often with some trial and error however). 
 

Letting go may sound too drastic, and perhaps so. Maybe a more realistic way to look at this dilemma is to just loosen your grip and see what happens. If your ASD son seems to slip backwards, this may convince others that he needs more support than they thought. If he is somehow able to meet that challenge, you may be pleasantly surprised. There are inevitable and unavoidable road bumps and pot holes in this process. We cannot control that, but we can control how we respond to them.

Your adult son will need continuing support and guidance, some of it from experienced professionals to continue his social development. While this may pose a financial strain, the long term benefits usually outweigh the cost of not getting him this support.

It’s a long and winding road to launch an autistic child out into the real world. It’s hard to know at any given moment what to accept and what to work on. A parent’s job never ends—it just changes. Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for getting this far. Take good care of yourself as well. 
 

How to Help Your Adult Child to Find Employment

Question

"I want to help my son with ASD [level 1] to get employment in the field that he does well at, but there is no one out there who will give him a chance-Help!"

Answer

The job market can seem like a cold, cruel place. So many people are competing for a hand full of jobs, hoping to break into their field of interest. It truly is a rat race. There are things you can do to help your son find his place in the battlefield of employment.

You’ve already given him a good start by encouraging him to find a career that is focused on one of his interests. People with ASD Level 1  (high-functioning autism) can have very strong obsessions. The amount of attention your son places on his obsessions guarantee that he will be extremely knowledgeable in that area. Not only that, the personal involvement makes him intensely happy.
 
An internship is a good way to get a foot in the door of a possible employer. Many companies that are under hiring freeze still have work that another person could be doing. By offering time as an intern, your son could receive valuable on-the-job training in his field of interest. It’s true that he wouldn’t be a paid employee, but once that hiring freeze is lifted, he’ll be first in line for the job.

Volunteering is another option. Although not as structured, volunteering is similar to an internship, meaning no pay. Volunteer opportunities can be found in every community. They may not be directly related to his field of interest, but he could learn how to be a good employee in many different situations. Not to mention, the volunteer hours will look really good on his resume.

Do not discredit the idea of your son accepting a job unrelated to his area of interest. Sometimes you have to work up a little bit to that preferred position. A company that does business in his area of interest may have openings in another department. Lateral moves happen all the time. And if it doesn’t, he will have solid work experience to add to his resume when he’s ready to make the jump into his desired field.
 
Here are 8 types of occupations that may be a good fit for your son:

•    Accounting
•    Animal science
•    Art and design
•    Engineering
•    Information technology
•    Manufacturing
•    Researcher
•    Shipping and logistics

Finding employment based on your son’s interest will assure a successful and enjoyable career. These tips and suggestions should get you started building your son’s resume and enabling him to secure the job of his dreams. 
 

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

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Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

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My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content