One of the best things about friends is that you can always rely on them when you need them. Whether you ran out of sugar and need to borrow a cup, need some help with babysitting when things get hectic, or just need a shoulder to cry on, friends are always there. But what happens when you have a friend who needs help, and you don’t know what you can do. Families with autistic children need help just like everybody else, but friends don’t always know what’s needed, what’s appropriate, or how to help. For that reason, today we’re going to give you five tips you can use to support friends who have autistic children.
- Get Educated
Children go through developmental and behavioral stages at different rates, and this is also true of autistic children. However, understanding what autism spectrum disorder is can help you to provide better support for friends because it can help you to better understand the needs and behaviors of your friends’ children. Start by reading up on the subject and talking to healthcare professionals to get an idea of what autism is, how to talk about it, and tips for building relationships with autistic children (the parents will be the authorities on this). Once you have all the information, you can educate your family so you can all provide better support.
- Make Yourself Available
All families have their own unique needs, routines, and schedules, and that means every family needs help in different ways. Sometimes, family members might just need to talk or chat, and being available be all the support they need. Other times, the family may need something else, and knowing who they can count on is crucial. Make a point of telling your friends that you’re available to offer help or support if they need it, and clarify the ways in which you’re able to do so.
- Ask How You Can Help
One of the best ways you can help a family with an autistic child is to simply ask. Many people get offended if you just assume you know what they need, so it’s always best to inquire first. This can be especially true for families who have autistic children, because they may have unique support needs. Here are some common things families may need help with:
- Grocery shopping
- Household chores
- Cooking and cleaning
- Caring for pets
- Helping with siblings
- Arrange Playdates
Autistic children often find social interaction difficult, and this can make it tough for parents to find playdates. Moreover, some parents who don’t know anything about autism may be wary about having their children play with an autistic child, and this presents even more challenges for families. You can help by arranging playdates with your own kids, with neighbors, and with others in the community.
- Maintain Privacy and Confidentiality
During your interactions with your friends, you may learn things about their families and their children that should remain private, so you should avoid discussing their personal matters with others.
Finally, one of the best ways you can support your friends is by continuing to reach out, offer support, and being available. Your friends have a lot on their plates, and knowing that you’re a reliable, educated, caring, and non-judgemental friend will go a long way in supporting them.
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