Don’t do this! Never do that! What kind of parent would do that?
Don’t you know that’s abusive?!
Are you tired of everyone and their brother telling you that EVERYTHING you do for your Autistic child is absolutely wrong?
Especially because it feels like no one out there tells you what you SHOULD do?
Well friend, that’s exactly what this post is for… I’m going to share the 4 core functions of Autism-Positive Parenting so that you know exactly how to parent your Autistic child with confidence.
So if you’ve been looking for some “best practices” when it comes to parenting your Autistic child, this post is for you!
4 Simple Steps to Autism-Positive Parenting
If we haven’t met yet, hey friend, I’m Kaylene. I’m an Autistic parent coach raising and homeschooling six neurodivergent kids.
I help parents of Autistic children Accommodate their kids, Balance their family lives, and Create change for their child and all Autistics.
Step One: Presume Competence
Presuming competence is basically a fancy way to say that you should believe your child can do anything.
The trick with this is that we live in a society that tells us that there are a ton of things that Autistics can’t do.
Plus the fact that doctors and therapists love to imply that whatever your Autistic child can do at 3 determines their capabilities for the rest of their life.
But let’s be clear… No one knows your Autistic child’s future.
So since no one can tell the future, why not presume that your Autistic child is perfectly capable of leading a happy, independent, and successful life?
Now the trick with presuming competence is that while we believe our children can do anything, we have to simultaneously be okay if they do not.
It’s one of the trickiest mindsets that parents of Autistic children must work toward, but once you have this down you will be unstoppable!
Step Two: Reduce Demands
The demands placed on Autistic children growing up in a society that wasn’t built for them are immense.
We are constantly expected to deal with sensory experiences that are painful to us and accommodate other people’s communication styles.
Beyond that, most Autistics tend to be demand avoidant.
Whether that’s because our anxiety makes us avoid demands or if it’s because we have pathological demand avoidance.
So knowing that there are tons of demands put on Autistics and we tend to struggle with them, it only makes sense to reduce demands wherever possible.
Reducing demands can look like reducing outright demands (expectations, chores, etc.) but it can also look like giving our Autistic children the autonomy and power over their own choices.
Step Three: Solve Together
Now that you believe your child is capable and competent, and you’ve reduced demands as much as possible, what do you do when your child still really struggles?
You solve problems together.
See, most parenting methods are about putting you (the parent) versus them (your kid).
Everything becomes a battle between you as you’re trying to teach them how to be a human and they seemingly refuse any tiny suggestion.
But I’d like to suggest a different approach.
When your child struggles, instead of going to them with a “me against you” approach, instead use a “me and you against the problem” approach.
This lets you respond with empathy and understanding, and show your child that you are on their side and you’re after the same goal.
Once you’ve established that trust, you can start to solve those struggles together.
Step Four: Advocate With Others
The final step in autism-positive parenting is to advocate with others.
Because at this point, you are meeting your child’s needs on a regular basis, and you’re starting to solve struggles together.
Now you’re ready to take everything you’ve learned over the first three steps and share that knowledge with others around your child.
Whether you are advocating with the school during an IEP session or making a plan with your mother-in-law for accommodations at a family dinner, advocating for your child with others is a huge part of autism-positive parenting.
When you can do this, you’re able to help society meet the needs of your child, instead of them only being accepted and understood within your own household.
And the bonus here is that the more you advocate for your child, the more chance you have to model effective advocacy for them.
This eventually leads to your child building their self-advocacy skills, which is of course one of the ultimate goals of autism-positive parenting.
So to quickly recap, the four steps to autism-positive parenting are:
- Presume Competence
- Reduce Demands
- Solve Together
- Advocate With Others
Now after reading this, you might still feel a bit (or, let’s be real, a lot) overwhelmed.
That’s why I’ve made it super simple for you to start.
It will walk you through some journal prompts to process your child’s diagnosis, a few simple shifts to neurodiversity thinking, and these four core functions of Autism-Positive parenting.
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