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Your Family Doesn't Want to Understand Autism: How to Cope

Your Family Doesn't Want to Understand Autism: How to Cope

Helplessness. Frustration. Sadness. They’re all emotions you’re probably more acquainted with than you like to think about. After first dealing with your child with autism’s diagnosis, your life has been a roller-coaster. What’s more difficult is when a close family member struggles to understand your situation and what your child is going through. It’s one thing if it is a stranger in the grocery store, but when it is someone close to you, it’s truly heartbreaking.

Sure, they sympathize when things are tough, but don’t they want to understand. Don’t they get how big a deal autism is? Why do the people closest to us find it so hard to talk about it?

Here are some ways to cope:

Have a Talk

Take some time to talk to them about it. Ask them how they honestly feel and why they’re having a hard time with it. You might be surprised at the answer. 

Let Them Explain

This is the hardest part – truly stay quiet and listen to what they have to say. Let them tell you what they think, what they know about autism and how they feel about it all. Focus on understanding exactly what it is that’s preventing them from getting onboard and being involved, so you can figure out whether it’s something you can fix.

Give Them Clear Examples

What do you exactly need for them to do? Give them clear examples of the type of behavior you would appreciate from them, whether it is accepting your child for who she is to helping you with certain things like babysitting. 

Help Them Learn

If they’re receptive to understanding more, teach them what autism is and isn’t. Point them toward good quality information sources and away from stereotypes, propaganda and arguments. Explain the reasons behind the way you parent so they can understand that you’re not just being too lenient or lazy.  

Have Patience

Give them time to come to terms with autism in their own way. Remember how you felt when you first got the diagnosis? It might be even more of a shock to them. Think back to a time when you didn’t know what autism meant or how hard it could be.

Let It Go

As painful as it is, after all the listening and explaining and waiting there comes a point where you have to accept that they may never get onboard with this. And the bottom line is that you need support - if they’re not willing to give it to you after you’ve tried to get them to understand, then you might have to give up. Create relationships with people who do get it.

If you feel overwhelmed and you need help, please contact us.

American Advocacy Group is on the front lines every day, making positive change happen for people diagnosed with Autism, Down syndrome and a range of diagnoses across the continuum. As a leading advocate for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and the premier provider of the support and services people want and need, we understand the system and know how to take action in regard to your best interests.


Dial (877) 762-0702 or email us at [email protected].




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