We asked parents in the BuzzFeed Community to share their advice for raising autistic kids, but also had siblings, educators, and autistic adults sharing their advice, too. Here's all their great wisdom!
Oh, a quick note: Autism spectrum disorder will mean something different for each kid, parent, and family. And not all of these tips will be useful for everyone, so take whatever you think is useful and leave the rest.
1. Be an advocate for your child.
2. Add structure to your routine by timing specific activities.
3. But also remember to be flexible when something unexpected comes up.
4. Try teaching them to recognize when they need a break, and let them do that whenever they need it.
5. Don't compare your child's abilities to others.
6. Appreciate the way your child sees the world.
7. Help your child learn how to apply new skills to different situations.
8. Take interest in their interests.
9. Allow them to self-soothe.
10. Never underestimate how much they actually understand.
11. Empower them to solve their own problems.
12. Listen to them calmly and with an open mind.
13. Remember that a diagnosis doesn't define your child.
14. Try to laugh through all the bizarre situations you end up in.
15. Build relationships with your child's school, and be prepared to advocate for your child's needs.
16. Look into whether Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy is a possibility for your family.
17. But also know that ABA isn't for everybody (and isn't necessarily possible for everybody).
18. Keep up on all the research about autism.
19. Know when you need to take a break, and have people around who can support you.
20. And finally, remember that other people's opinions of you or your kid aren't actually important at all.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.