Find your tribe – Autism parents unite
When you have your first child you are often united with a wonderful group of new mothers through the local health nurse. This can be a great experience as you get to know your new baby and start bonding with other new Mums around breast feeding, sleep routines and developmental milestones.
For many mothers their Mum’s group can become their lifelong friendship group as they all watch their children grow up together. It becomes their tribe, where everyone helps everyone else out. If you need a babysitter, someone is there for you. If you get stuck picking your child up from kinder, you’ll have someone you can count on. If you’re having a hard day you will always have a shoulder to cry on.
When you have a child with autism parenthood can sometimes look a little different for new parents. The experiences with their babies may not be as smooth sailing as it seems to be for others. Feeding can be tricky, sleep routines (what’s that?!) and developmental milestones, well, that can look quite different too. During these first few years there is often no diagnosis available, many children won’t receive a diagnosis until around 3 to 4 years of age, some even later. At some point you may find that being part of your original parenting group becomes difficult. You may not be getting the support you need from other parents. You watch their children interact on a different level and start playing together, whilst your child plays alongside immersed in their own world.
This is the point where you should try to find other parents who understand what you’re experiencing, because they are experiencing it too. Find people who you can relate with about what you’re going through with your child. These people will be you most valuable support as you consider things like registering for the NDIS, finding specialists and group activities, and the right school for your child.
As your child grows and develops you too will grow and learn more about them and how they see and interact with the world. Being a parent of a child with special needs is a challenging and rewarding experience. It can also be a lonely one. Having a support network of parents who you can relate to on a different level is beneficial to your health and well-being. You can learn so much from each other, and the best thing is, you will know you are not alone.
Find your tribe, unite with other autism parents, and work together for a better world that supports your children, along with those who teach and care for them.
SASI Guest Parent Blogger