Parents who have autistic children face unique challenges in raising their kids. Beyond knowing what medications and what types of intervention are most helpful, parents must understand the best ways to interact with their child, and how to incorporate the disease into their everyday lives. Here are 10 tips to help parents of autistic children

  1. Try to understand your child's behaviors.

    Most children are not bad intentionally; they just react differently to stimulants. In fact, a study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that autistic children are more likely perceive eye contact, even from a familiar person, as a threat. What is it that bothers your child? Understanding what most affects your child will help you solve-and possibly prevent-issues quickly and effectively.
  2. Find positive outlets for socially "unusual" behavior.

    Shouting may be frowned upon in many indoor places, but going to a park to do so is acceptable for children. An action that may be out of place in one location may be perfectly tolerable in another.
  3. Provide sensory input...

    Children with autism need sensory care, whether in the form of a strong hug or playfully rolled in a blanket.
  4. ...But avoid too much.

    If your child's autism makes him or her react strongly to things like carnivals or parades, stay away from those situations whenever possible. If you can't, try a distracting sensory toy like a teddy bear to hug.
  5. Don't let past parenting traditions bog you down.

    A child with autism will have different habits than most, so be open to modifying your expectations and habits to coincide with what your child needs. The Autism Society of America (ASA) says that it's normal for families to struggle with how to spend time with the family as a whole. It recommends making time for your autistic child and non-autistic children separately, in addition to bringing them together for some activities. 
  6. Take pride and joy in your child's success.

    Though autistic children may not be the star of the school play or captain of the tee ball team, they may have other skills. For example, a study conducted the University of London found that children with autism tend to have superior tone recognition abilities, often making them gifted musicians.
  7. Remember your child is not trying to embarrass you.

    The ASA notes that some parents resist taking their children places out of concern for how they will behave. The holidays, in particular, can be challenging for children with autism because their normal routines are disrupted and the loud noises associated with celebrations may be overwhelming. Try to prepare your child for these events by explaining to them ahead of time what to expect.
  8. Modify your child's environment for safety.

    With the extensive need for sensory input, autistic children may seek it in unorthodox, often unsafe places. Be sure to latch cabinets, soften table corners, and put a deadbolt on the front door. The ASA even recommends labeling certain items or putting "stop signs" on drawers and cabinets that your child should not open to remind them what's off limits.
  9. Find ways to have fun.

    Though autism can be incredibly stressful for parents, try to have fun with your child. For example, enjoy the cuddling and tickling as fun activities rather than therapeutic outlets.
  10. Learn to deal with your anger and frustration.

    Providing specialized care and intervention can be emotionally challenging and financially demanding. In fact, one study from the University of Missouri showed that some parents spend as much as $30,000 a year on behavioral therapy for their children, while others have reported filing for bankruptcy, spending their retirement savings, and skipping meals to cover costs. To help cope, remember to take time for yourself and use support groups and online resources to try to connect with other families who have children with autism.