I have just finished one of my favourite interviews so far for my podcast. I was lucky enough to spend 30 minutes chatting to a mum of a 14 year old boy who received his diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and a global developmental delay at the age of 3.
One topic that I really enjoyed discussing with her was how we, as parents of children with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, would feel more supported when we are in the community with our children.
Many of you would be aware of the feelings of sadness and isolation when your child is finding a particular setting difficult to navigate. It can be challenging to remain calm while figuring out whether the best course of action would be to remain in that place or move your child somewhere else. I tend to wait it out, this means looking for a time when I believe that my child is feeling ready to move from that place.
What could you do if you see this unfolding in front of you?
- A kind smile to indicate to the person, hang in there, I can see what is going on and I am sending you positive thoughts.
- Look for a way to help out? “Can I pick up your bag for you?” or “Is there something I can do for you?” or even a comment such as “you can stay here for as long as you need to”.
These comments indicate to a parent that they have not done anything wrong here, it also indicates to the parent that they along with their child have a place within this community. With that, comes an understanding that sometimes neurodivergent children can sometimes need some time to adjust to their environment. Judgemental looks, criticism or staring blankly at a parent in this situation does not offer support, it just perpetuates the idea that this community in not the place for you or your child.We need to move past this. Let’s do it, let’s change the narrative today.
I would love to hear your feedback on your experiences in your community. Let this be the start of a conversation about individuals with autism spectrum disorder accessing their community, forging the path for acceptance and understanding.