1. Technology such as computer and playstation games
2. TV or cartoon characters such as Superheroes, Thomas the tank Engine and Scooby Doo.
3. Their family
4. Gross motor activities like climbing and swimming.
5. Numbers – counting, arithmatic and reading them.
When asked what their children were good at, the top 5 responses were:
1. Using technology
3. Numbers (counting, arithmetic)
4. Gross motor activities
5. Affection (cuddling, kissing family)
When asked to recount a special moment, the most common response was about hearing their child say “I love you”. Others told of achievements such as a good report from school, a first invitation to a play date, first words and a successful holiday.
When asked what their child struggled with, the top 5 responses were:
1. Social skills - such as taking turns, joining in games with others, reading body language and understanding others’ perspectives.
2. Speech and/or language.
3. Noisy and busy environments.
4. Change, transitions and new experiences.
5. Running away or showing no fear of danger.
The Challenge of Parenting a child with ASD
Another question I asked parents was about the things they themselves struggled with whilst parenting their child or children who have ASDs. The most common response was that they struggled with the attitudes of strangers towards their children. They talked about the lack of understanding of their children’s needs, especially with regards to behaviour.
For example, several parents wrote about outings “going pear shaped” as their child had a meltdown whilst trying to cope with a new environment. They received comments from strangers – and sometimes friends and family – suggesting that the child was simply being naughty and stronger discipline was needed.
Another common theme was the difficulty in balancing the needs of multiple children in the family when one or more of those children have an ASD. One parent explained that they felt bad that their “quieter” child often did not receive as much attention as their other child whose overt behaviour needed more immediate and constant attention.
The other top 3 responses to this question included the difficulties in finding funding and services, seeing their child struggle with or be sent home from school, and coping with aggression and/or meltdowns.