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What I've Learned Mothering a Child on the Spectrum

Rhonda Chapman has a son who is on the autism spectrum. They found out that he was on the spectrum at age 4.

Since he was their first they had no one to compare him to. The workers at the daycare could see that he needed to have a doctor take a look at him.

It was a bit overwhelming because there was so much information out there. They were able to get him tested and have him diagnosed. It felt as though it was their fault, or that they should have caught it before that.

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Getting Diagnosed

Her son was in his own little world. He explored things by putting them close up to his eyes. Some kids on the spectrum like to put things near their eyes. He didn’t like to play with other kids. He would cry if there was too much noise in the environment. He would cry when they went out to the store.

Her son is almost 11. If we go at his pace, instead of expecting him to progress on a certain schedule, it helps him develop.

They had a pediatrician who would say that their son would never do certain things, but he is doing all of them now. With people caring and teaching him things, he is able to learn and adapt. For example, he has learned to be more flexible if things change in his schedule or environment. “If you give your child space to grow, they will grow.”

Work With a Team

It’s helpful to work with a team and to be in communication with them. When parents and therapists rely on each other, they create a partnership to help the child grow.

Her son goes to a public school and is in the special needs program there. They continue to test him to see if he has the skills to move to mainstream.

Connect with other parents on social media to get details about the school. Parents who have been there will know the pros and cons of each school and will be more honest than the administration.

Visit the school and reach out to other parents to find out what there experiences were with the school.

Visual Learner

My son works best with visuals. We use pictures. I created a small book that I attached to his backpack with things that he loves and things that he expects that will help him learn.

In primary school, they would use visuals and a schedule that he could forecast his activities for the day. To transition between activities, they use a timer to let him know how long he has until the next activity. He loves Australian animals, so they would use those to get his interest.

Reach out to Other Parents

It important to have a network of other parents to connect with and get ideas from. It’s easy to feel isolated because your kids become your world.

Get out there and don’t be too shy; make friends with other parents. We need the space to vent and complain and not feel that people are judging us. Other parents are the ones that are going to help with the support special needs parents need.

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