As we work to support one another as moms, it can be helpful to have some practical strategies to intentionally assist the well-being of our friends. Autism is a growing diagnosis with 1 in 54 children having an autism spectrum disorder.
Children with autism have some incredible strengths but also some challenges that can be supported by loved ones. You can be part of that support network as you and your children interact with families raising a child with autism.
Here are a few tips for supporting moms with Autistic children:
Ask don’t assume:
Individuals with autism are diverse and do not all share the exact same characteristics. As you learn more about autism you may find consistent themes or aspects regarding the diagnosis, but there is wide degree of latitude that exits within those generalizations. For that reason, have a conversation with your mom friend about her individual child. Ask about what autism means for her child/family/situation. Inquire regarding the best ways to support her and her child.
Keeping a flexible mindset regarding plans, expectations or events can help your friend know she and her child will be supported even if things don’t go to plan or if things need to change due to a difficulty encountered before, during or after an event or special plans.
If you are putting together a special playdate or event, provide your mom friend with the details ahead of time. Often, children with Autism benefit from understanding what they can expect during a daytrip, playdate or special occasion. Send these details (including pictures when you can) to your friend ahead of time so she can use them to prepare.
Model and discuss with your children:
Help your children understand autism. Ask your friend (back to point number one!) what she thinks are the most important things for your kids to know. You and your children can learn about autism together. Talk about how to be a good friend in general and then specifically about how to support friends with unique needs. There are many good children’s books you can use to start the conversation. Included below are pictures of a few you may find useful. A great website for your own learning is https://www.autismspeaks.org/.
Are you a mom with a child with Autism or do you have friends that do? We’d love to hear if you have other tips that we can share with moms as well!