The 3 things you need to raise a child with autism

By Alive & Well

Love Courage Hope

Welcome to another year of love and goodness at Alive & Well. We hope you enjoyed your holidays. We certainly did!

To kick off 2012, some inspiration for all the folks out there touched by autism …

I’m often asked what it takes to raise a child with autism. And this is what I say: “Love, courage and hope.”

Because these 3 things are absolutely essential:

  1. An abundance of unconditional love – let your child know they are loved
  2. Courage to create or seek out an autism-friendly world for your child – a lot of the time this is something you need to do yourself because the world isn’t always autism-friendly … yet (more on that later)
  3. Hope – the key ingredient. The doctors often tell us what our children will never be able to do. Wouldn’t it be great if they talked about all the possibilities? About having hope for your child? About all the successes and contributions that people with autism make?

But sometimes when I talk about these things, I feel like a fraud. Like my thoughts on autism don’t count properly because my son has what some people think of as ‘autism lite’ – Asperger’s Syndrome, the so-called ‘high-functioning’ form of autism, or the ‘soft’ version depending on who you talk to. So the critic in me sometimes discredits our family’s experience, since we don’t manage ‘the real deal’.

If your child has not spoken for 5, 10, 20 years, how do you have hope? How can hope help you?

Let me introduce Carly

For the first decade of her life, Carly Fleischmann was non-verbal and thought to be intellectually disabled. But then she found a way to communicate that helped her to overcome some of the challenges she faces every day.

She’s now 16, and it’s pretty amazing to see what she’s been able to achieve since then – and to get a sense of what she went through before she found a way to express herself.

Take a moment to view this ABC 20/20 interview and check out Carly’s website. You won’t be disappointed. Hope is not a finite resource that’s only available to the ‘high-functioning’. There’s plenty to go around, and stories like Carly’s serve to remind us of that.

You can help make the world that little bit more autism-friendly right now, by sharing this with everyone you know.

How do you communicate with your non-verbal child? Or, what was it like to hear those first few words?