12 Parenting 'No No's' I Allow Because My Son Has Autism

My son has severe nonverbal autism. Because of that, my parenting style is probably totally different than if I had a neurotypical kid.

It got me thinking about all the things I allow my son to do that most parents usually tell their kids not to do. Some of these I encourage my son to do because it’s a typical thing kids do. Some of these I let my son do because I pick and choose my battles. And some I let him do because of the limitations from his disability.

So here they are, in no particular order.

1. Eating with his hands. 

This is a combination of picking and choosing my battles and adjusting my expectations due to Kyle’s fine motor issues and major eating issues. When your kid doesn’t eat very well to begin with, as long as he’s getting it down I don’t care if he uses his hands. This might change in the future, but for now this is a battle not worth fighting.

2. Running in the hallway. 

I always see parents or teachers tell their kids to stop running in the hallway and I think, “Why?” But seriously, the school where Kyle gets his music therapy on Saturdays has a big wide, long hallway to his classroom that’s perfect for a fast run. So while all the other parents are telling their kids to wait, I’m dragging Kyle by the hand saying, “Let’s run, let’s run!”

I’d just love to see him run somewhere with a sense of purpose instead of his usual meandering around. Plus I like to run. I run marathons (very slowly) and would love to somehow get Kyle involved in the running community.

3. Splashing in the tub or pool.

It’s a right of passage for kids to splash around in the tub. So what if water gets all over the floor? That’s what towels are for. And the pool?! That’s what pools were meant for…  Splashing! Why are all the nuerotypical parents discouraging splashing? What am I missing? Did I miss the memo? I’m the one dad in the pool who’s splashing water in my son’s face. I must look like a big jerk.

4. Eating breakfast for dinner. Or popcorn for breakfast. Or spoonfuls of jelly for lunch. 

Again, my kid has major eating issues and he lost weight a year back, so when he’s hungry he gets what he wants and that’s it. Other ASD parents know what I’m talking about. There’s another autism blog called Grape Jelly On Pizza. She knows what I’m talking about. I’ll give my kid a multivitamin to make up for the lack of nutrition.

5. Getting dirty on the playground.

Every time I take Kyle to the playground I overhear at least one parent say, “You’re getting your pants all dirty!” What?! This is what playgrounds are for.

6. Watching TV during meals.

It’s not allowed for every meal, but again, you’ve got to pick and choose your battles. If having a show on will get him to eat more, then I’m putting a show on.

7. Drinking coffee. 

What can I say? My kid loves coffee. Is it good for him? Probably not. Is it going to irreparably harm him? Probably not. So when Daddy is drinking a cup in Kyle’s vicinity, Kyle’s most likely getting half. And if I can use coffee as a reinforcer to get him to eat other things, then that’s much better. I love coffee.

8. Not eating at the table.

We try to get Mr. Kyle to at least eat dinner at the table, but breakfast is a walking around and grazing meal.

9. Jumping in puddles.

Back at the playground I hear parents yelling, “Don’t jump in that puddle!” Meanwhile, I’m on the other end of the playground trying to teach my kid how to jump in a puddle.  Jumping in puddles is a right of passage, a part of growing up.

10. Talking too much or too loudly. 

My kid is completely nonverbal, so if and when he decides to start talking he can talk whenever, wherever, and as loud and as long as he wants to.

11. Sitting in the cart at the store.

We’ve been pushing him to walk more lately, and he’s been doing pretty well, probably partially due to his service dog and partially due to his school going on community trips every two weeks. But if we need to get in and out of Target quickly, or if Kyle is having a bad afternoon, I have no problem stuffing my 8-year-old into the cart and giving him a bag of popcorn and a book to keep him happy. Recently, we were in Costco and we were leaving a popcorn trail behind us throughout the store.

12. Jumping on his bed.

I can remember just a few years back when Kyle didn’t know how to jump and they would work at it in his physical therapy sessions. Now, he’s a jumping machine. And we encourage it. He’s got a trampoline in the backyard, a mini trampoline in his play room and he also uses his bed like a trampoline. If he grows another few inches he’ll be hitting the ceiling when he jumps on the bed. But we will allow it until the bed breaks or he hits his head on the ceiling… whichever comes first.

Those are my 12. I’d love to hear yours.

A version of this post originally appeared on Autism Daddy

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