Parenting rules I had to break: My journey as the mom of an autistic child

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My son has limited verbal ability and sensory problems. This means I have to break some rules that other parents think are the only right things for any child.

My son has autism. I’ve had to break some hard and fast parenting rules and make up my own on my journey as his mom. This convinced me that every child is different, and the rules in my home don’t necessarily have to be the same in others’.

Some of these rules I had to break for his own good. Some of these rules I had to break for my own sanity.

Here they are:

No gadget time during school days

When your autistic 6-year-old wakes up at 4:00 am after you’ve been working until 1:00 in the morning, you leave him a plate of biscuits, water, and his iPad then you take a nap.

No one else gets a say on how I raise my child

I take advice---a lot of advice. I follow what his doctor, therapists, and teachers say. Ultimately, though, I know my child the best, but their insights have been invaluable to me over the years.

No staying up late

I just had to let this rule go, sometimes. Forcing him to sleep would be fruitless and in the end would just give me a reason to get mad at him for something he might not understand.

No jumping on the bed

Whenever Kiko gets mad, I don’t want him to throw a tantrum. But I do know he has to let it out, so I let him jump when he’s really mad to let his frustration out.

No watching TV late at night

When he manages to articulate a whole sentence while maintaining eye contact and without fidgeting and you want to promote that behaviour, I give him his TV show even if it’s nine in the evening. I only give him a 20-minute show, too, of course.

No chips or junk food

Do you know how I got him potty trained? By feeding him a salty diet and making him drink so much water so he would be forced to pee regularly. I've trained him to not like sweets.

Never pull on or hold him too tightly

When we are outside, he could leave me in a flash; even if I called out to him, he wouldn't answer. I get strange looks and disapproving glares from people who don't understand why I'm holding him so tightly or I tug on his shirt when he starts to slink away. I don't mind. I've heard too many stories about autistic kids running off and getting lost to care about what they think.

So don’t be sad about your rules getting broken or changed. What matters is your child is learning and he's happy.

As a mom of an autistic child who had her living room painted with poop once (he’s potty trained now), I assure you that doing what you think is best for your child should be the only rule you should never break.

Read: 6 lessons I learned from parenting my 6-year-old

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