Q: If a friend has child with a disability, especially autism, what is the kindest or most helpful thing anyone can do for them?

A: Thank you for this great question! In order to answer this one, I went straight to the pros – the moms of children with special needs.  Their insights about what has been helpful and what others have done for them is great and will help you to be a supportive friend to a parent of a child with special needs.

Here are some of the responses I gained:

  • Listen. Just listen without judging and fixing
  • Offer to baby sit her/his child so that she/he can have some quiet and alone time.
  • Offer to baby sit his/her child so that she/he and her/his spouse can have some 'couple time'
  • Show a genuine interest in your friend's child
  • Remind your friend that there is a beautiful, amazing, perfect and lovable child in there
  • Invite a fellow mom to a girl's night; invite a fellow dad to a boy's night
  • Encourage your friend to find a support group
  • Encourage your friend to find a good therapist
  • Encourage your friend to be patient. Very., very patient
  • Suggest that your friend research and advocate for his/her child
  • Offer to help out with other children in his/her home
  • Welcome your friend and his/her child into your home even though the child may make a mess
  • Support your friend to support her/himself
  • Remind your friend to trust his/her instincts

Answered by Dr. Elizabeth Matheis