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Autistic Parents: Strengths & Challenges

To take care of a loved one on the spectrum is one thing. But what does it take to be a parent on the spectrum and care for a loved one? Read this blog to understand autistic parents better.

Parenting as an Autistic Individual

There are many autistic parents around the globe.

Parenting in general, comes with a lot of responsibilities and hardships. It is the same for a parent on the spectrum too. 

Parenting with autism has its own set of challenges. Individuals with severe or moderate autism may not exhibit skills that are typically expected by society from parents. This can be due to inherent differences typical to autism.

However, it’s crucial to keep one very important thing in mind. If the family also includes an autistic child, being a parent on the autism spectrum can be useful. An autistic parent can use their experience of navigating the world as an autistic person to provide a safe & empathetic environment for their autistic child to grow up in. 

Let’s Bust Some Myths!

An article from Verywell Health shares facts about autistic parents. These facts break the general myths about autistic individuals.

MYTH: Autistic People Don’t Feel Emotions.

The fact is, while individuals with autism may react to situations or experiences in slightly different ways than their neurotypical peers, they do experience emotions such as joy, rage, curiosity, irritation, delight, and love.

MYTH: Autistic People Can’t Empathize with Others

A person with autism could find it challenging in some situations to put themselves “in the shoes” of another person. But everybody may relate to this. People with autism frequently exhibit emotional empathy (the ability to understand and respond appropriately to what someone is experiencing).

MYTH: People with Autism Can’t Communicate Well

Communication is a skill that people with high-functioning autism share with their neurotypical peers. However, they could struggle with social interactions. As a result, individuals might have to try harder to interpret nonverbal clues or more intricate forms of communication like body language.

Challenges Faced by Autistic Parents

  • Being unable to communicate well and develop social networking skills amongst non autistic parents.
  • As a parent, the need to advocate for their child in a school setting becomes difficult while being on the spectrum.
  • Managing sensory overload. Individuals with autism have certain sensory needs. Parenting comes with dealing with loud noises, smell and messy environments in a house setting.
  • Sudden demand in the change of routine might cause a meltdown or overwhelming emotions.
  • Many individuals on the spectrum deal with depression and anxiety. Postpartum in parents comes as a strong factor to overcome. Having to manage that alongside co-occurring conditions would be very difficult.
  • In an attempt to do their best in parenting when compared to non autistic parents, a sense of alienation, guilt and many emotions may take over.

Strengths of Autistic Parents

Many autistic individuals develop a well planned routine. This could have a great effect on the child to be raised in an organized family routine. With good focus and high observance, they will pay more attention to the child’s needs and wants. 

Meanwhile, an autistic parent with a child on the spectrum, provides a setting where the child watches their parent accept and understand autism and they learn various coping methods from the parent.

Just different, Not Less

Being on the spectrum either as a child or as a parent may come with limitations but it has its own little joys too! It is time to embrace and provide access to the support they require so they can thrive equally and happily amongst everyone.

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