As a parent/caregiver we all want our children to be healthy and happy. We hope that our parenting and guidance pushes our kids to grow and learn. We work hard to create a pathway for our children to be successful. But, as a parent of a child with autism, paths can look a bit different. They can take quick turns when least expected, zig zag at times, and occasionally feel like they are going backwards. Sometimes it might feel like nothing is working and your child has not made any progress. This is why it is so important to appreciate all the small victories your child has.
There are some big questions and uncertainty when it comes to autism. There is a great unknown at times as well. Will my child ever talk? Will my child go to college? Will they live on their own? As a parent of a child with an autism diagnosis, acknowledging the smallest victories and little moments can keep you as the parent moving forward.
One of the big tips for parents/caregivers from www.autismspeaks.org is to appreciate small victories. Even the littlest of achievements is a success. For example:
- The first “I love you mom/dad,”
- a new drawing with a blue crayon instead of a red one,
- a smile and wave when you walk into a room, or
- a bite of a new food.
Expressing oneself, changing a routine on their own, acknowledging another person in the room, accepting something new into their diet/ life are nothing for some kids, but for a child with an autism diagnosis these are HUGE achievements!
It is easy to get caught up in the “crisis” mode of parenting, especially when you have a child with an autism diagnosis. There are so many highs and lows and lots and lots of adapting. You are constantly at doctors’ appointments, learning about the diagnoses, reading up on the newest treatments, and are advocating all the time. Even in the hardest of days paying attention to the littlest of things can keep you going. The something new learned, a quick facial expression, a new vocalization—things another person wouldn’t see or acknowledge, but you quickly caught. No victory will ever be too small to celebrate.
Focus on what your child with autism can do and try not to compare them to typically developing children. Take pride in the little accomplishments they continue to make. Forget about trying to relate all of your child’s growth and skill level to a milestone chart. Their small successes and accomplishments are their own personal measuring sticks.
When you have a child with an autism diagnosis let the tiniest of achievements push and drive you as a parent/caregiver. It is so refreshing to see the littlest changes and successes. Continue to watch your child, I bet they will surprise you with something new more often than you expect. Always remember — no victory is too small!