Kids with autism need extensive time, attention, and effort from their parents. When parents get involved with their autistic children, their kids have a better chance of thriving in a world that is often overwhelming and challenging for them. However, parental involvement is more than just setting up therapy appointments. Here are several reasons why kids with autism need more hands-on involvement from their parents.
1. Hands-on involvement makes kids feel safe
Kids with autism need to feel safe in their environment, both at school and at home. While parents can’t control their child’s school environment, they can control the environment at home. However, this takes a big commitment because kids with autism have specific needs that vary by the individual. Parents need to get involved to discern what their child needs. Without involvement, a child’s needs will usually go unmet.
One thing parents can do to help their child feel safe is to get in-home therapy. Sometimes kids don’t feel safe in new environments, and it will be harder for them to open up to a therapist when they don’t feel safe. If you’re a parent of a child with autism and you’re looking at Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy, find an organization that will send an ABA therapist to your home.
When you get involved with your child, you’ll discern their needs better and that means you can create the kind of environment at home that will make them feel safe and secure. Rather than imposing an arbitrary schedule or routine on your child, you’ll pick up on their needs so you can create a customized routine that meets their actual needs. For kids with autism, having a routine is part of what makes them feel safe. However, that routine needs to align with their needs.
2. Early involvement helps with communication
For kids with autism who struggle to communicate, parental involvement has been shown to improve communication. CNN Health discussed a study published in the Lancet that showed when parents work with their kids from a young age, it can help to reduce the severity of symptoms and improve their child’s ability to communicate.
The study found that communication improved when parents worked with a therapist to learn how to communicate effectively with their children and pick up on their child’s cues for interaction. Children who were given standard treatment did not show the same level of improvement.
Although the study didn’t go in-depth as to why involvement helps with communication, it seems pretty clear. When parents get involved with their kids, for example, by getting on the floor to play with them, they’re able to learn how to notice when their kids want interaction. For kids who struggle to communicate, these cues for interaction aren’t always obvious. It takes involvement to learn to recognize these cues. Once recognized, parents can respond to those cues and engage their child.
When a young child fails to get their parents’ attention for a long period of time, they’re likely to stop trying as they get older, which makes communicating later on much more difficult.
3. Parental involvement creates a stronger bond
All kids benefit from having involved parents, but kids with autism need involvement to thrive at a fundamental level. Kids with autism often struggle to form bonds with their parents when their parents don’t make the effort to get in their world and work to understand them. This goes for kids of all ages, including teenagers.
When parents do get involved with their kids, their kids feel more connected and are more likely to respond to attempts to communicate and connect. It’s not always easy, and some kids will always struggle to bond with their parents, but parental involvement is the foundation that makes it easier.
4. Involvement opens the door to therapy
There are many different therapies for kids with autism, and not all of them will resonate with your child. Some therapies will work, while others may not. This is completely normal, but in order to find the right therapy, parents need to be involved with their kids. Parental involvement is the best way to gauge whether or not a therapy is working, and provides the impetus needed to try new therapies.
Parental involvement helps kids with autism thrive
Kids with autism struggle with life in many ways, but parents who support them early on create a strong foundation for the rest of their lives. Life won’t be easy, but it will be easier for kids whose parents get involved in their lives while they’re still young.