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Staci Grosser has a 10-year-old son who was diagnosed with autism when he was a toddler. If you missed her story of Renner’s autism journey, click here to read it. Then come back here to read her tips. We’ll start out with a few of her tips for friends of parents whose kids have autism or other special needs. Then we’ll move on to advice for other autism parents.
Staci’s Tips for Friends of Autism Parents
Ask them how they’re doing. Ask how you can pray for them. Ask if they need a hug. If you’re not with them, text them. I don’t often have time to talk on the phone, so don’t be offended if your friend doesn’t answer a phone call. But let her or him know you care.
Offer Your Support
Especially at first (and even still), I needed so much emotional support because I was hurting and grieving. Listen to your friend and be there for them. Let them talk without judgment. And then follow up. Don’t let it just be a one-time deal.
Think Twice About Giving Advice
Advice is a double-edged sword. It can be annoying to the recipient yet can be good at the same time. Make sure what you’re offering might actually be helpful for the person’s child, and don’t push it.
Staci’s Tips for Parents of Kids with Autism
Allow Yourself to Grieve
When a diagnosis of autism comes, so does grief for all the things your child (and you) may not be able to do in life. Autism alters your life. You have a child, and in your head you plan all the play dates, you map out vacations, you think about the perfect school, and so on. You imagine them graduating from high school and possibly college. You think about their future marriage and the grandchildren they’ll someday give you.
But then you get a diagnosis like autism, and you don’t know if any of that is ever going to happen. Everything is up in the air. He may be able to do those things. He may not. He may be able to hold down a job. He may not. He may be able to get married. He may not. And the worst part is, he may be able to talk . . . and he may not. That was the hardest for me. That was the most grief I have ever encountered. I didn’t know if my son would ever be able to talk to me. You have to allow yourself the time and space to grieve, and realize that it will take time.