Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is a disorder that can vary wildly in severity. The main struggles with autism include difficulty with social interaction and lackluster communication skills. Also common with autism is repetitive thoughts and behaviors. Raising a child with autism can be quite challenging, and requires a lot from the parents. However you are not alone in this endeavor, many parents also have dealt with this experience.

The number one advice that should be given out to parents of children who are suspected of having autism is do not wait for a diagnosis. Autism is characterized by developmental delays. The younger you start treatment for your child the better your child will be in the long run. The first few years of a child’s life have major implications on development. Even without a diagnosis, beginning treatment early for a child suspected of autism can have a very real effect on your child’s future development and symptoms.

While all children are going to be naturally different. Due to the nature of autism there is some things that you can do as a parent to help your child thrive. Firstly, sticking to a schedule is very important. The more structured the life of a child with ASD the better. Things such as set times for meals, school, and bed. While somethings will naturally come up and cause schedule changes. The more you are able to stick to the schedule the better. If unexpected schedule changes do happen, which they will, if at all possible prepping your child for it beforehand can help the stress level. Things like autism and discipline go hand in hand in this respect. The better the schedule is followed, the easier it will be for your child to handle the day.

Another big tip for parents of children with ASD is to use reward systems. When there is a physical representation of good behavior it can help your child better understand what’s good. Praising your child when they act well is important no matter what, but it can be especially important to kids with autism. Be as specific as possible about the behavior you are proud of, and subsequently, what the reward or treat is for.

Another hurdle which can be hard to overcome for parents of child with ASD is communication. Many children with ASD rely heavily on communicating with non-verbals. Things such as sounds, or gestures can indicate they are tired or hungry. It is also important to make time for fun. Make an effort to figure out what you and your child can do to have fun together. This is just as important developmentally for your child as it is bonding with your kid.

As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum it is important to remember self care. The job of a parent is never easy, and dealing with these issues on top of it all can be overwhelming at times. Make sure to make time for yourself, and make sure that your needs are also met. To be the best parent you can be to your child, you also need to be healthy, and taken care of as well.