How Couples Can Support Each Other in Parenting a Child with Autism

BY: - 28 Jan '14 | Parenting

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Facing Autism on BMWK

Being a supportive spouse is something that can make a marriage thrive. However support is even more crucial when raising a child who is on the autism spectrum. Sometimes your spouse is all you have to help you deal with the challenges that autism can bring into your family.

Here are 10 ways that couples raising a child with autism can support each other:

  1. Give each other a break. Burn out is something that many parents raising children with autism face. Our children’s needs are many. Avenues of support are few. As parents we definitely need a chance to rest and get some “me time.”
  2. Ask how you can help. Many couples often fall into specific parental roles. Sometimes the work is divided in an equal way and sometimes it is not. If you notice that your spouse is overwhelmed with a task, ask how you can help or better yet start helping.
  3. Learn all you can about the special education process. Navigating the maze of special education can be very stressful. Trying to get services and an appropriate education for your child can bring on more stress than the average family has to deal with. When both parents make an effort to learn how to navigate this maze, it can be a huge relief to everyone.
  4. Know that your way is not the only way. I am guilty of this. My husband and I have some different ways of doing things for our son. I realize that I have to let go and know that he will get the task done even if it not the same way I will do it.
  5. Realize that you both have a purpose. Each parent has a purpose in their children’s lives. We each have to pull our weight. If I am in the kitchen cooking and my husband takes our son to the playground, he is serving a purpose. Our son needs the stimulation. It benefits him just as much as the food I am cooking benefits him. Each family dynamic is different and knowing where our strengths and weaknesses are can help us fulfill our purpose as parents.
  6. Follow through. If one spouse asks the other to do something, get it done. This is so important because if the person who asks has to end up doing the same task it can lead to resentment. Following through also transcends to both parents doing their part to help implement therapeutic strategies at home with their child.
  7. Have fun together. There are so many obstacles that can get in the way of family fun. We have to think of money, time, and if your child has challenging behaviors. Still finding the time to do things as a family can benefit your child in so many ways and it can also benefit you as a couple.
  8. Be a good listener. As parents raising children on the autism spectrum, there will be a lot to talk about. There will be discussions about IEP meetings, parent-teacher conferences, your child’s progress or lack thereof, planning for the future, the list goes on. It is important to listen to each other and work together to make good decisions that are in your child’s best interest.
  9. Get Involved. When both parents get involved in an autism parent support group or an organization that benefits children on the spectrum, it can have a positive impact on the entire family. These outlets give both parents a chance to bond, network, and learn more about how to help their child.
  10. Plan ahead. Financial and estate planning will help provide support in the event that one parent passes on. Having life insurance and a will are also very important. While your spouse is grieving, they will be able to get some comfort from the benefits of the plans that you put in place as a couple.

BMWK: How do you provide support to your spouse as you raise your child with autism? What would you add to this list?

Check back every other Tuesday for additional articles from Kpana Kpoto as she shares her experiences and what she learns as she raises her son that has been diagnosed with Autism.

About the author

Kpana Kpoto wrote 38 articles on this blog.

Kpana Kpoto, also known as Miz Kp, is a special needs advocate and blogger. She provides resources and support for autism parents through her blog, Sailing Autistic Seas and her support group, Bronx Parents Autism Support Circle. Kpana lives in New York City with her husband and only child, six-year old "Angel" who is conquering autism one milestone at a time.


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12 Things to Put on Your “Family Bucket List”

BY: - 29 Jan '14 | Parenting

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12 Things to Put on Your "Family Bucket List"

I’m sure you all have a bucket list of your own personal things to do, people to meet and places to go. Well, how about making it a family affair? Make a bucket list and look forward to crossing things off each month as a family! It will be fun. Keep the family fun going each month, so mark your calendars and use this ENTIRE YEAR to cross of the items as you accomplish them!

This does so much for your family. It creates fun family time and togetherness. It shows accountability and commitment. When you include your children in making the bucket list, it shows how much you value their opinion!  What’s also great is you get to tailor it to your family’s desires. You can make your own, but here’s one to get you started:

JANUARY: GIVE!!! Pack up some old clothes, toys, shoes and time if you have it at a homeless shelter.

FEBRUARY: LOVE! Put names of the family members in a hat and draw the name of the family member. The name you draw, will be the person you have to make or buy a nice treat!

MARCH: TOGETHERNESS! Plan a day to spend together as a family doing something fun! Movies, skating, anything that can keep the fun going and the laughter non-stop!

APRIL: GET FIT! This month commit to trying/introducing at least 2 new veggies AND heading OUTSIDE to go for a family walk, bike ride or a run!

MAY: LEARN! This is the month to learn something new. Whether it’s as simple as learning to count to ten in Spanish or finally learning how to swim. Commit to something and get ready to celebrate each of your victories!

JUNE: RENEW! School is out/almost out. Time to renew your local public library card and take advantage of at least one activity that the library provides. Most likely, it’s FREE! Another suggestion is EVERYONE commit to reading at least one book.

JULY: RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS! Show your children the importance of being nice and expecting nothing in return. Paying for a stranger’s coffee…offering to help a senior with groceries are just a few ideas!

AUGUST: PICNIC! Plan a family picnic. Find a shady spot under a tree or a park pavilion. Even if it’s your own backyard, it will be fun! (One last hurrah before school!)

SEPTEMBER: CELEBRATE!  Plan a BACK TO SCHOOL Kick-off!! Get them (and yourself) motivated for the new school year and make small goals of success!

OCTOBER: QUALITY TIME! Commit to spending one on one time with your child. No one else but you two. Great time to hear about their life right now. If you have more than one child, this may be challenging. But if you do it small increments, it’s doable.

NOVEMBER: GIVE THANKS! Teach your child the importance of gratitude. Have them recall a nice gesture that someone did for them, then write a “thank you” and send it. BONUS: Add a nice treat to the note for good measure!

DECEMBER: DECOMPRESS! The holidays can bring about lots of stress – shopping, crowds, etc. Take a step back from that and plan a moment to reflect on the true reason for the season and do something relaxing, TOGETHER as a family!

BMWK – I hope this contributes to your family’s well-being. If you do some or all of these, OR have a list of your own, please share!

About the author

Sheree Adams wrote 117 articles on this blog.

Sheree is a wife and WAHM of three who passionately blogs about marriage, family, health tips and more as Smart & Sassy Mom. Sheree is committed to helping blended families and keeping marriages strong, healthy, fun and SPICY!


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