The Transition from Autism Mom to Advocate
A mother is her child’s biggest advocate. What parent isn’t a staunch supporter of their child? Disability or not, every parent fights for their child’s well-being and safety. However, these words carry more weight when that parents has a child with autism. There are unique challenges to parents of special needs children, and it can be difficult to advocate for something that parents, professionals, and the general community know little about.
When a new parent first hears that their child has been diagnosed with autism, there is a rush of so many emotions. Relief might even be one of them, if they have been searching for an explanation and finally have an answer to the struggles they have been facing. Then they experience fear, concern, anxiety, and even curiosity. What does it mean to have autism? The spectrum is so diverse, and as every professional knows, it depends on the child. How is a mom supposed to advocate for a child that is unlike any other?
Every child deserves a voice.
Many children with autism are completely nonverbal, and even those that can raise their voice don’t do so out of fear or anxiety. This should never be a barrier to children receiving the support they need, and it is often up to parents to speak for those that can’t speak for themselves. Children with autism are owed the same considerations as any other child, and many organizations rely on parents to provide the insight they lack to be able to give them the support and tools they need.
Helping moms become advocates.
Education is the first step. A special needs child will find more success in their community when those around them have a better understanding of what autism is. Spreading awareness can give parents power in arenas where they thought you had none. Help mothers discover that one person can truly make a difference – that one person can change a child’s life. Being so empowered, they will subsequently help other children with autism who experience similar challenges.
Community agencies play a powerful role in supporting moms. By encouraging them to speak up and speak out on behalf of their child, they help every child in the community. By learning more about each family’s unique situation, your organization, too, can become a better advocate for the special needs population you serve.
Tips for supporting moms of special needs children
Encourage moms by empowering them. Let them know that it is ok to:
- Inform a stranger that their child has autism
- Ask for patience, when their child looks one age but has the social capabilities of someone much younger
- Advocate for acceptance so that all children with autism can live a fulfilling life
Moms know better than anyone else how unique and special their child is. Being a parent of a child with autism can feel restrictive, but it doesn’t have to. By encouraging moms (and dads) to advocate for their child, you contribute to an entire community of children desperate for support. Moms don’t have to change the world, but they can make their child’s world a better place with your support.