Our oldest was diagnosed on the autism spectrum (specifically pdd-nos) a few months ago. I am no expert and I am learning more every day. A few things are on my mind I want to share..
Process + change
Change in routine is difficult. Whether it be changing a shirt or going on vacation. Share the plan in advance and pictures if possible. Our little guy's last day of vacation is often tough. We know that he is sad about the change but has difficulty expressing emotions.
Respect space + requests
Sometimes he asks for it, other times we just know. He is very affectionate but can't always handle unexpected hugs. We've learned not to take it personally and to accept his cuddling when he's ready. We've learned to respect this when he covers his ears and says something is too loud. He loves headphones.
A few months ago we went through a phase where our son got really upset at church. A wise woman shared that we should try transition pieces. Chocolate chips or five minutes on the iphone. I struggled at first--isn't that bribery? Since his diagnosis I've decided to go with it. It gives our little guy a chance for his emotions to calm down and reboot.
Education is key
I have learned so, so much these past few months reading books and blogs and forums. The hard part for me is explaining autism to friends. Explaining how he processes information. That if he sees a friend out of context he might meltdown because that friend wasn't supposed to be there. Or that he doesn't understand proximity or volume control the way some kids do.
I've been so encouraged to find mom's with blogs sharing insights as their kids grow older with autism. I've also joined a discussion group, its refreshing to find other parents who share little successes like learning to eat a sandwich or sit through a movie. This has been huge for me.
Encourage their skills and progress.
We are trying out a sports sampler this summer. Its been so good to watch him run and play with other kids. He's doing swim lessons too. The lifeguards know he doesn't like to be splashed in the face, but he is working on every other skill. They challenge a little bit each day.
Created in His image.
One of my bigger frustrations is the shame in the label. There should be NO fear or shame in an autism diagnosis. Our little guy has a much cooler thought process than my (neurotypical) self. Our son was designed uniquely and creatively. We praise God for our son's creativity and giftedness.