Parenting any child commonly comes with both joys and sorrows. But parenting a child with autism has a unique learning curve as parents navigate from concern about their child’s development to diagnosis, even further on to treatment and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and still further on to supporting their young adult and planning for the future. It can be a lot to figure out—especially while also juggling work obligations, the needs of other children, and the needs of parents themselves.
The Learning Curve
Most parents have not grown up watching anyone raise a child with autism, and parenting books typically have little to no discussion of autism. So, parents often have many questions for which they can’t easily find answers. When a child with autism misses developmental milestones or experiences major health, emotional, cognitive, social, and/or behavioral challenges, parents can experience confusion and worry. Research demonstrates that both mothers and fathers can experience loss and grief after receiving a diagnosis of autism for their child. Family and friends, not having experienced this journey, often do not fully understand what it is like and may be unable to offer meaningful support. Even as they identify their strengths and rise to the challenge of the autism learning curve, parents can still feel alone and unsure of how to access the information, support, and guidance that they need. This is not to say that parents do not also feel emotions like joy, gratitude, and wonder as they watch their beloved child learn and grow. They absolutely do! It’s just that family life is complex, and, quite naturally, so are our feelings!
To meet the needs of parents, Sandbox Therapy Group offers Parent Support—a service that provides parents with a safe space for identifying their child’s, and their family’s strengths; celebrating progress, accomplishments, and just life together; grieving losses; learning stress management strategies; developing specialized parenting tools; and learning about child, parent, and family development in the context of autism. Parent Support can help improve:
- Family functioning
- Parental well-being
- Understanding a child’s mental health and behavior
- Progress toward a child’s treatment goals
Learning specialized parenting strategies can lessen disruptive behaviors in children with autism. A multi-site, large-scale, randomized trial demonstrated that children with autism showed a significant and sustained improvement in their behavior after their parents participated in a specialized training program when compared to children of parents who only received an education. Sandbox Therapy Group recognizes the power of parent training and incorporates it into Parent Support.
How to Find Out More
For more information on Parent Support or to discuss how our team can evaluate or provide services for your child, please don’t hesitate to book an initial consultation.
Cynthia Good, MS, LMHCA, CATSM, IBCLC
Therapist and Parent Coordinator