Parents are the most important people for a child with Autism.
This statement sounds redundant, but it’s something I find myself discussing with parents I work with – a lot! If I share one tip with parents of children with Autism (actually any parents), it’s to remember that you are the most important people for your child. You know them better than anyone, you understand their strengths and challenges better, and you, above anyone else in your child’s life, have the most emotional investment in seeing your child succeed and reach their full potential.
As a professional working in the Autism field, I can say that I, too, have an investment in knowing about your child and in seeing them succeed. But it’s not comparable to what you as parents bring to the table. And it’s not supposed to be.
What I understand from working with so many families, is that the process of ongoing work with professionals can be taxing. You put a lot of trust and hope in the professionals to bring some insight to help your child, while they apply what they know to make professional judgements about your child and your family, and helping you make adjustments that you hope will improve your child’s development and functioning. This is huge!
What can inadvertently happen throughout this process is that parents can lose their autonomy and sense of identity, thinking that others, be they professionals, funding agency personnel, friends or family, know more about your child than you do. Parents may not even realise this is happening.
As a professional, I can tell you it’s not really our fault. We are well-intentioned and passionate about our work, but we are trained to give advice, and not always so good at stepping back and listening to parents. This is a problem! I feel lucky that I can say my Relationship Development Intervention® (RDI®) training has knocked this out of me – or at least I’m a work in progress.
My tip at the beginning of this post is more of a golden rule. There might not be a rule book to make your job simple, but you do have your intuition, and you need to feel empowered to listen to your inner voice. Take on what professionals say, but think about it and make it work for you, rather than the other way around. You know best what will work.