By Terryn Ononuga
A note to ABA professionals and others on how we can improve our empathy and interactions with caregivers of people with autism.
Raising a child is hard work. There’s no disputing that fact. Raising a child on the ASD spectrum can be an overwhelming experience for families. It is important that as a network of people who work with families of people with autism, we treat them with respect, patience, and kindness.
Showing increased respect for parents of children with autism involves understanding their experiences, acknowledging their challenges, and offering support. Here are some ways you can demonstrate your respect:
Educate yourself about autism: Take the time to learn about autism spectrum disorder (ASD), its characteristics, challenges, and strengths. This will help you gain a better understanding of what parents of children with autism may be going through.
Listen and empathize: Take the time to listen attentively when parents share their experiences. Show empathy by validating their feelings, acknowledging their struggles, and expressing understanding. Offering a listening ear is a great way to show support. It’s a small act of kindness that can make a significant difference.
Avoid judgment: Refrain from making assumptions or judgments about the child or the parent’s parenting skills. Remember that each child with autism is unique, and parents are doing their best to navigate a complex situation. Avoid making faces, using an unkind tone, and maintain neutral body language.
Respect their choices: Recognize that caregivers of children with autism may make decisions based on their child’s unique needs and circumstances. Respect their choices, even if they differ from your own approach.
Avoid giving unsolicited advice: While your intentions may be good, it’s important to refrain from giving unsolicited advice unless specifically asked for. Unsolicited advice can create a barrier to building a strong relationship with families and can cause parents or caregivers to feel isolated.
Be patient and flexible: Understand that parents of children with autism may need to modify plans or routines due to their child’s needs. Be patient and flexible when interacting with them, as unpredictability is often part of their daily lives.
Remember, showing respect for parents of children with autism involves being understanding, supportive, and compassionate. Every action, no matter how small, can make a positive impact on their lives.