There are many things parents can do to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) overcome their challenges. But it’s also important to make sure you get the support you need.

When you’re looking after a child with ASD, taking care of yourself is not a luxury or an act of selfishness—it’s a necessity. Being emotionally strong allows you to be the best parent you can be to your child in need.

These parenting tips can help by making life with an autistic child easier.

Learn about autism. The more you know about autism spectrum disorder, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed decisions for your child. Educate yourself about the treatment options, ask questions, and participate in all treatment decisions.

Become an expert on your child. Figure out what triggers your kid’s challenging or disruptive behaviours and what elicits a positive response. What does your child find stressful or frightening? Calming? Uncomfortable? Enjoyable? If you understand what affects your child, you’ll be better at troubleshooting problems and preventing or modifying situations that cause difficulties.

Accept your child, quirks and all. Rather than focusing on how your autistic child is different from other children and what he or she is “missing,” practice acceptance. Enjoy your kid’s special quirks, celebrate small successes, and stop comparing your child to others. Feeling unconditionally loved and accepted will help your child more than anything else.

Don’t give up. It’s impossible to predict the course of autism spectrum disorder. Don’t jump to conclusions about what life is going to be like for your child. Like everyone else, people with autism have an entire lifetime to grow and develop their abilities.

Caring for a child with ASD can demand a lot of energy and time. There may be days when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or discouraged. Parenting isn’t ever easy, and raising a child with special needs is even more challenging. In order to be the best parent you can be, it’s essential that you take care of yourself.

Don’t try to do everything on your own. You don’t have to! There are many places that families of children with ASD can turn to for advice, a helping hand, advocacy, and support.

For more information about helping your child with Autism, contact Anel Annandale at 083 711 5267 or via email at  anel@childpsych.co.za.