Special events are the stuff of happy memories for most of us, but for children with autism, the departure from routine and avalanche of social expectations in an unfamiliar setting full of strangers can spell potential calamity. ‘No surprises!’ is a tactic worth the preparation and planning effort.
It’s a beautiful vision on the horizon: Your child with autism all grown up, a capable and independent adult. When our children are young, that horizon can seem far away. How will we get there? What should I be doing now?
Many parents of a special needs child appear to parent with grace, balance, and energy. In addition, these parents seem remarkably stress-free and organized. How, in the face of all of these challenges and more, do they keep it together? What habits do they embrace that allow them to be a highly-effective parent for their special needs child?
First things first: In every family household, some degree of parent-child conflict is inevitable and a sign of healthy child development. From early toddlerhood to late adolescence, children are growing a rapidly evolving awareness of themselves and the world around them. As children become more attuned to their own goals and identities, they may naturally feel less inclined to accept expectations and rules laid out for them by their parents. Further, some children, by their very nature, are exceptionally strong-willed or emotionally reactive. Consequently, every parent will deal with moments when children push boundaries, argue, negotiate, melt down, storm off, or simply refuse to cooperate. These parent-child interactions can be unpleasant and draining; however, for the vast majority of families, butting heads is the exception rather than the rule. It does not define the daily household dynamic or impact a family’s capacity to function in a healthy way.
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