Changing from a teenager to an adult can be one of the most stressful times in an autistic person’s life. Therefore they need the best help and support they can possibly get from their parents. Being a parent is hard, and knowing the right thing to do can be even harder. Below are some tips to help make this transition easier.
Parents need to accept that their child is becoming an adult. Often they will try and treat the young adult as if they are still a child. This can come across as patronising, and also makes it difficult for the child to grow up.
Give them respect. For example, if the young adult says they want to go out somewhere or do something, don’t automatically assume that they won’t be able to do it. Part of becoming an adult is trying things out and making mistakes, and parents have to give them enough respect to allow them to do this, without wanting to take over, and make it about themselves somehow.
Still be there for them. This one probably goes without saying, but despite having to give them more freedom and independence, parents should always make sure they are still available if their children need them. However old they get, everyone needs to know that they have some kind of support.
Accept what level of independence your child will be able to achieve. This doesn’t mean that they can’t attempt to become more independent, but don’t try to force them in to things they are not ready to do, and equally, don’t try to hold them back from things they do want to do.
Some people with autism will never be able to be fully independent, and will always need care, but that doesn’t mean that parents can’t treat them with the same respect they treat other adults with, just because they can’t do all the things other adult do. It shouldn’t matter what that person can achieve – they have the same right to be treated as an equal as any other adult does.
It`s hard for any parents to let go of their children, and accept that they are adults with independence, and responsibilities of their own, but for parents of autistic children it can be even harder. Parents worry that their child is vulnerable, but the most important thing to remember is that the parents can be there to support their child throughout their life without having to be involved in, and control every aspect of it. Yes some children will be able to grow up, and achieve more independence than others. But whatever this level is, any act of independence, however small, should be encouraged; explain the dangers and risks without trying to frighten them, and put them off.
However much respect parents may have given them as a teenager, it`s a different kind of respect that is given to a fellow adult, so the most important thing for parents is to make sure that they respect, and encourage the young person’s transition in to adulthood. It is likely that the young person will still be around long after the parents have died, so the more independent and confident the young adult with autism can become, the better it will be for them in the long-run.
Part 1 on Advice to a Young Person can be found here. Your comments below are welcomed.