If You’re Struggling To Parent A Child With Autism, You Are Not Alone

Color game_Autism Tyra Vickers

If your child has received an autism diagnosis, you are certainly not alone. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported a 15 percent increase in autism diagnoses nationally. It’s now estimated that 1 in 59 children are on the autism spectrum. One in 37 are boys and 1 in 157 are girls.

Although all parents face struggles, parents of children with autism deal with a multitude of intensified and unique challenges. Your child may need a great deal of support just preparing for the day. If something in the routine is disrupted, your child may lash out.

Autism occurs on a spectrum and every child (and parent’s) experience is unique. Some kids have a very difficult time communicating and interacting with other children. For others, communication comes easier, but they may struggle with understanding all the different aspects of being social. When your child received their formal diagnosis, they likely received a classification of level 1, 2 or 3 based on the severity of symptoms.

Regardless of where your child falls on the spectrum, the difficulties with flexibility, understanding, communication and emotional regulation present in individuals with autism can be exhausting.

The good news is I’m here to help. You don’t have to go through this alone, and I can provide you with parenting skills that alleviate stress. I can also provide your child with ways to self-regulate difficult emotions and behave more appropriately.

Are You Struggling To Connect With Your Child With Autism?

Are you a parent of a child on the autism spectrum asking yourself:

  • How do I connect with my child?

This question can be especially difficult if your child is diagnosed as “level 3” Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or requiring very substantial support. Children with this diagnosis may not make appropriate eye contact, acknowledge when other people are around or seem interested in human interaction at all. The child’s ability to use words or gestures to communicate is minimal. As a parent, you want to form a strong relationship with your child, but you may not see a clear path in.

  • What am I supposed to do when my child acts out?

Autism meltdowns can be very alarming. Your child may throw themselves on the floor, become aggressive or self-injurious and display a complete lack of control. The shock and fear you feel from the intensity of the meltdown makes it difficult to know how to respond. If there are siblings, your child with autism may act out toward their brothers or sisters, which can leave you even more on guard and confused about how to deal with the behavior.

  • How do I prevent meltdowns?

If you’re unsure why your child acts out or what they specifically need to calm down, you may be seeking concrete skills for managing their behavior. You don’t want to continue accommodating their meltdowns, but when your child screams in the grocery store, for example, you may not know what else to do. At times, it may seem like giving your child what they want is the only thing you can do.

Raising a child with autism comes with a variety of challenges. Although you want to provide your child or teen with ways to be more socially aware and appropriate, there are gaps in understanding that you can’t seem to bridge. Whether your child needs a lot of support with daily living skills or is quite verbal and independent, autism counseling can help the whole family connect and learn how to manage unhelpful behaviors.

Autism Counseling Can Decrease Your Stress And Improve Your Child’s Behavior

Autism counseling is very effective in helping parents and children manage day-to-day life. With expert guidance, you can learn to identify specific areas where your child struggles and how to provide accommodations in healthy, productive ways.

In a relaxed space, I work with the entire family to improve communication and behavioral regulation. Here we’ll examine the lagging developmental skills contributing to your child’s behavior, giving you an objective perspective on the challenges you and your child face. Understanding why and how your child behaves is a crucial step toward developing sustainable skills that address your child’s behavior.

Through our work together, you can expect to walk away with productive responses to challenging behavior. These techniques will ultimately lead to increased calm, compassion, understanding and empathy.

Your child will develop skills to manage behavior. We’ll work on stop and think, which is a systematic strategy that teaches children to manage impulses in incremental steps. We’ll also practice deep breathing and other stress reduction exercises. We will talk about the complex components of social thinking and how to interact appropriately with others. Together, we’ll develop a language that helps your child understand their experience, like how to gauge and adjust their emotional thermometer.

The skills I provide in therapy are designed to be integrated into routines at home. This is one of the reasons it’s so important for parents to be present for therapy. Children with autism often thrive on routines and familiarity. Your presence in autism counseling will make generalizing our successes in-office to your home more fluid.

I am also available to consult with your child’s Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy team, or other professionals in your child’s school district to ensure your family is equipped with the abundance of autism resources available today. If your teenager is transitioning to a post-high school education or training program, I can collaborate with educational professionals to help your teen or adolescent identify and access available resources for a successful transition.

I started working with children with autism nearly two decades ago as an ABA therapist and then as a school psychologist for a decade. Given this experience, I know that things can get better. Learning new skills can deepen the connection you have with your child.

Boys_Autism Tyra Vickers

You may still have questions or concerns about autism counseling…

My child doesn’t want to participate in therapy

It’s very common for children on the spectrum to resist trying new things. If this is the case, I encourage you to call me. We can discuss strategies that can help with transitioning from your home to my office.

In the beginning of therapy, I work carefully to build rapport with your child by following their interests. At first, I don’t have a lot of expectations. I want to create an environment that is positive and safe for them. Initially, we just work on establishing a relationship and expand from there as the child is ready.

In the end, the skills I provide will help your child transition to new places and experiences with increased ease.

As the parent, how involved will I be in this process?

It’s crucial that you are highly involved in the therapeutic process. You will be expected to attend most sessions. I’ll also rely on you to report how the skills taught during sessions are being integrated at home.

Having you here and engaged in therapy is so important because kids with autism tend to have a hard time applying skills to different settings. Your presence makes the generalization of those skills more fluid and successful.

Does going to autism counseling mean I’m a bad parent?

Absolutely not. In fact, reaching out for help is a sign that you’re an excellent, forward thinking, resourceful parent.

Every child has unique strengths and challenges. With objective guidance, you can learn to identify areas of concern and gain tools for addressing those worries.

Things Can Get Better

If you’re interested in learning more about counseling, please call (720) 316-3909 or email drtyravickers@gmail.com for a free, 30-minute consultation.

You Are Not Alone