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How Can Your Loved Ones Help Support Your Autistic Children?

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His blond curls bounce in the sunlight as he is twirling in the sun. The arm flapping is a reminder that he is different. Seeming to be in his own world, he produces sounds that are familiar yet hard to distinguish. Adjacent to him is his sister. Her hair is twisted in knots from spinning it around her fingers. She carries vegetables and is nurturing them as if they were a doll to carry and care for. She connected to the movie “Veggie Tales” in a way that the garden vegetables became her playmates, never to be eaten.

These beautiful children see life differently. They experience life through a different lens. They are raised with patience and kindness. They are raised by two of the strongest parents I know. They carry the label of being autistic. They require constant care and attention.

I see this world through a different lens — not as the parent to these beautiful children but as their aunt. The world they live in is full of textures and experienced through the senses. Food carries a different meaning, and nutrition can be a struggle. Sleep rarely happens for both children and their dedicated parents. I have read articles on autism as well as conducted significant personal research. I have spent hours thinking about the theories that focus on and dissect autism. Those who have autistic children need those around them to understand.

I understand, but I want to help. I am here. I write this to parents of autistic children — if you have a moment where you feel like you are spinning from trying to do it all, pick up the phone and call a friend or family member. Though we are not living in the same day-to-day world, there are people who want to help.

Autistic children are a beautiful gift. As an aunt who adores her niece and nephews, I would like to hear from those connected to the autism community — how can loved ones help? What support do you need most? What would help you trust a loved one to help care for your autistic child?

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Image via Thinkstock Images

Originally published: November 1, 2016
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