Each of us longs to find a balance between feeling in control of our lives, and enjoying life’s little surprises, that can bring such pleasure. For children with ASD, the picture is often very different – and certainly much different than typically developing children.
Autism and Control
Most children on the spectrum have significant control challenges. Often the need for control becomes so dramatic that families are virtually turned upside down. I regularly see parents stuck in a hellish state; not even aware of how they got there; I remember it well as a parent myself.
The reason children with ASD have difficulty coping, along with many other challenges, is they are lacking critical cognitive processing abilities, which in turn renders daily life frustrating and often frightening. To make matters worse, they lack resilience.
So what are these processing challenges?
- The ability to “go with the flow” and problem solve when things don’t go as planned
- The ability to seamlessly know “what to do” with incoming information (deal with it right now, ignore it, tune it out)
- The ability to use past experiences to guide present/future behaviour
- Self awareness – being able to monitor/alter behaviour based on the circumstances
- The ability to “share” experiences in a genuine, reciprocal fashion
For most people, these cognitive skills are “automatic!” We zig and zag our way through daily life without recognizing the mental gymnastics required (until the end of the day that is!). Without these “thinking skills” it’s no wonder children affected by ASD often cling to control at all cost! Controlling the environment is the most effective means these children have to cope. It’s also no wonder that a computer is a source of refuge; it is predictable and “safe.”
If your family life looks like mine did, you are likely tip-toeing around your child, doing everything possible to avoid an outburst, turning yourself inside out to keep the peace. This isn’t necessary! Your child and your family can survive, overcome – and thrive!. Parents can be given back the reigns, and children with ASD can be slowly guided toward genuine quality of life. I am a firm believer that we need to “raise the bar” and expect far more than we were led to believe our children are capable of. I see it regularly!
How I can help
Do you feel that your situation is hopeless? Do you feel like you’ll never have “a life”? Think again! Dramatic improvements are possible for every family that is willing to roll up their sleeves. Most parents are both terrified and excited when they “take the leap” and commit to improving quality of life for the entire family. This is natural – I was too! Are you ready to take back control of your family and feel competent as a parent again? Take the leap! It will be well worth it.