Helping Family Understand Autism

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs  over at Atypical Familia (formerly AutismWonderland).

I didn’t know anything about autism when my son, Norrin, was first diagnosed. Many friends and family dismissed my concerns and tried to assure me that Norrin was “just fine.” Autism is an invisible disability and it’s hard trying to make sense of something you can’t see. For a long time time after Norrin’s autism diagnosis, I had a tough time trying to get my loved ones to understand – including my mother. Over the years my mom has learned to understand autism and become one of Norrin’s fiercest advocates.

The April issue of Parents magazine is dedicated to Life in a Special Needs World. And family plays a huge part in the life of a special needs child and their parents.

While there are some in my family who still don’t understand Norrin’s autism, there are many that do. And I realized that in order for my family to truly understand autism, they needed to be involved. Here are 3 ways to include family and friends to help them better understand your child:

Bring them to an IEP meeting. No one should have to attend an IEP alone. The IEP meeting is open to anyone who knows and loves your child. Invite a friend or family member – they don’t have to say anything or even be familiar with special education. They just have to be there next to you. Let them experience a moment in your special needs life.

Let them sit in on a therapy session. The next time your child has an therapy session, have your friend or family come over. They don’t have to participate or assist – they just have to observe. Let them see what your child is like, how hard they work and what they are capable of doing.

Be completely honest. As special needs parents, we celebrate every achievement. Every milestone matters and we want to brag about our kids. But if you want your family to really understand, you need to go beyond the highlight reel. You need to share the tough stuff too.

From my other blog:

For more ways to help friends understand Autism, download Autism Speaks Family Support Tool Kit.

Children with Autism: The Parents Perspective
Children with Autism: The Parents Perspective
Children with Autism: The Parents Perspective

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  1. by Helping Family Understand Autism | NextOff

    On March 20, 2014 at 8:35 am

    [...] This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinone s-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at Atypical Familia (formerly AutismWonderland).I didn’t know anything about autism when my son, Norrin, was first diagnosed. Many friends and Read full article [...]

  2. by Helping Family Understand Autism | Isupon

    On March 20, 2014 at 9:47 am

    [...] This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinone s-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at Atypical Familia (formerly AutismWonderland).I didn’t know anything about autism when my son, Norrin, was first diagnosed. Many friends and Read full article [...]

  3. [...] report published in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes that the brains of autistic children showed differences from the brains of kids without the disorder in areas that normally develop in [...]