An accurate diagnosis of the spectrum not only provides answers to questions that have been asked for months, but also means changes in the family's existing life. Autism ceases to be one theory and becomes a fact that everyone must accept. Because, want it or not, the spectrum affects the functioning of everyone in the household. This is a challenge for the parents, but also for the siblings of the autistic person, who often get less attention than before.
The path to diagnosis usually looks similar. It starts at home with observation of the child and the first signs of autism such as unusual play or lack of eye contact. Then begins a marathon of visits to specialists, searching for information on the intrenet and "golden advice" from friends and relatives. Finally, there it is - the diagnosis that most don't want to hear. "It's autism." After these words, the lives of thousands of families turn upside down. First come the extreme emotions: anger, helplessness, incomprehension. Only as time passes do we realize that we need to make changes in our daily lives that will affect the functioning of the entire family. Including the lives of the children.
Being the sibling of an autistic person can be a challenge. Parents understandably have to devote more time, money and commitment to fighting for an independent future for their diagnosed child. But in doing so, it's important to remember that every child needs the same things from their caregivers - unconditional love, support, affection and understanding. Often parents focus so much of their attention on a child on the autism spectrum that they often no longer have the time or strength to give attention to the rest of the household. The needs of themselves, their partner or their children are relegated to the background, and this is a serious mistake. "They can manage on their own," "they need to be independent," "X needs me more now," are thoughts that often appear in parents' minds after diagnosis. However, their attention is often focused on the autistic child much earlier, as soon as certain signals and behaviors appear.
After the diagnosis, intensive work and therapy begins, which further consumes time and often results in a change in the behavior of a person on the spectrum. At such times, a conversation is needed, because siblings often do not understand why suddenly, for no apparent reason, a brother or sister begins to behave differently. In many cases, the child's first instinct is to blame himself for the situation. An additional factor that causes anxiety and incomprehension is the change in interaction with caregivers. All this causes a range of extreme emotions that children often do not know how to cope with. That is why it is so important to keep a close eye on your kids and not leave them alone in this new reality, which is so difficult for them.
What can we do to make everyday life easier for our children? We decided to prepare some tips that will certainly be useful for parents of people on the autism spectrum.
And above all, let's remember one thing: Parents you are wonderful, strong and irreplaceable! For each of your children you are super heroes. You not only explain the world to them, but you are the whole world to them. You help them take their first steps, you are beside them with every balky knee, and you try - to the best of your ability - to raise them into independent, wise and resourceful adults. This is daily work and sacrifice, especially when care includes visits to specialists and daily therapy. Rebuilding your entire life and setting new priorities is never easy, especially when the needs of all household members should be understood and met. Better and worse moments will happen, but we should always remember that closeness and love are the feelings that will cement any family and get through even the most difficult moments.