Thursday, April 28, 2011

10 Ways YOU Can Help a Family Living with Autism « Lisa Ackerman – Real Help Now

10 Ways YOU Can Help a Family Living with Autism « Lisa Ackerman – Real Help Now

10 Ways YOU can help a family living with autism

(Start today by forwarding this blog with a personal note: “Your family is important to me. How can I help you?”)

Children’s activities sure can keep you on the go! Like other moms, I spend countless hours each week driving my kid back and forth, juggling between my responsibilities and getting him where he needs to go. Every parent I know is committed to making sure their child is participating in activities that will help them grow into a well-rounded adult equipped to live a productive and happy life. Parents will run themselves ragged to help their child succeed in the present and prepare for the future. In that way I am like all those other mothers and fathers.

But there the similarities end. While many of my friends are driving their kids to basketball practice, music lessons, cheer tryouts or science camp, I (and other parents of children with autism) am taking my kid to therapy sessions, follow up doctor’s appointments, medical evaluations, IEP and school district meetings. Very little of this process seems normal and it often feels incredibly isolating.

Typically, when a child “makes” the team or joins a group, they are welcomed into a busy new community. Kids bond and cheer each other on. Parents make new friends, arrange carpools, plan fundraisers and attend games or performances. For many of our kids in the autism world, there are no teammates cheering your kid on at the doctor’s office. No parents sitting by your side in the school office while you fight for your child’s right to educational support.

We all knew having children would be a life changer. Having a child with autism is something altogether different. Families living with autism fight time from sun up to sun down – there is just never enough time. Because of the developmental nature of autism, parents feel a sense of urgency to help our children achieve as many gains as possible to maximize their chances for a healthy future. So we continue to squeeze in more therapies, more interventions, and more evaluations. Like all parents, we fight for time in our daily and weekly schedules. But unlike most parents, we are also fighting against an unrelenting developmental clock.

If you have a friend or family member affected by autism, you often know they are struggling but don’t know how to help. The greatest gift you can give is you. Remind them often: I’m here and I care. Whether the autism diagnosis came yesterday or ten years ago, we need to know we are not alone. Here are some ideas on how you can make a difference for families with special needs children.

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