I never thought I’d have the courage to write about this and actually advise other people how to be a better friend or family member. If you’re reading this, then you’re either really concerned and genuinely want to know how to stay being a good friend to a newly diagnosed family, a friend who just got fed up with an Autism Mom and her “nonsense” and want to learn how to reconcile your friendship or you’re just well… plain done with an Austism Mom but curious after the fall on how you could have salvaged the friendship. After 8 years in the game, I think I can consider myself seasoned enough to give my two cents on this topic. This is from my perspective. No one is expected to know what an autism mom experiences day to day. It’s impossible to be a perfect friend but please please try to do some of the following. If you can hit #1, #5, #6 & #13 your autism mama friend sure is lucky to have you in her life!! I didn’t do a research study on other moms. So I am in no way, stating this on behalf of any other mom but myself, since this is MY blog and all. ; )
- PLEASE LISTEN. Period. Listen.
- DON’T GIVE FALSE factless, hollow promises: “Don’t worry about the future or things not in your control. I’m sure he’ll outgrow the autism. Give it time, he’ll get better. In time, God will make things better. He’s smart, he’ll be independent.” These are the most annoying, hopeless things to say to someone with a child on spectrum.
- READ AND EDUCATE yourself on the basics of Autism. I’m not suggesting you do a whole project on autism for peets sake. Just go on Autism Speaks and read about it.
- ACCEPT THAT AUTISM WILL NEVER GO AWAY COMPLETELY. THERE’S NO CURE. So please stop making comments like: Oh he’s better, he’s on his way to being normal. Something to that effect. Just like your friend who has to learn to accept this fact, you as a friend or family member must truly truly accept this or the denial ALONE will hurt everyone.
- HAVE HOPE AND FAITH that the child’s symptoms will decrease and that he/she will get better to some extent but…
- DON’T MISTAKE having faith from autism completely vanishing.
- REFRAIN FROM LECTURING OR DISCIPLINING your friend’s child.
- ENCOURAGE YOUR FRIEND TO GET OUT Spas, work out, hike in nature….but
- RESPECT HIS/HER NEED FOR ALONE TIME I for one need time for myself to process, accept, tire out, and then get out.
- OFFER TO BABYSIT and please understand most autism Moms need real breaks. If it’s intimidating to be alone with the child and sibling(s) offer to watch kids during sleep.
- DON’T JUDGE THE POWER OF AUTISM MOMS OVERINDULGING More than most moms. If they seem to overindulge in massages or clothes respect that. Everyone in general needs an outlet. More so for parents of autistic kids. Everyone needs an escape. More so for parents of autistic kids. Oh did I just repeat that?
- NEVER SAY: “I understand. I know what you mean. I do the same thing for my kids. Don’t you think you’re being hard on yourself. You’re too uptight. Don’t get yourself worked up. Be more patient with your child.” Just NO. Unless you really do understand and have a special needs child yourself. Then maybe just maybe your credibility will make you believable.
- OFFER PRAISE. REMINDERS HOW AWESOME MOMS ARE Only if you mean it. Nothing’s worse than fake compliment. Don’t be shy to show that side of yourself. These special moms work HARD EVERYDAY NON STOP and need to hear these recognitions. Autism Moms don’t get big heads over praise, we only get stronger knowing others see our magical super powers. : )
- PARTICIPATE IN AUTISM RELATED EVENTS Attend the child’s school play, Autism Speaks Walk, show support during a game or meet. There are endless ways to show support.
Thank you! I don’t know you are but I’m so happy you’re here reading more on how to include yourself in our world, your friend or family’s world. It can be a lonely one but with more support from friends and family like you, it doesn’t have to be. I know it’s possible to be there for someone and to be of help to a Mom. I know so because I’ve been blessed with people in my life who can by nature be many of these.