Recently I wrote an article for PsychCentral about my experience, hoping that it would let others know they’re not alone. (You can read the full article here.) One aspect that I wish I’d done differently is that I became a classic helicopter mother.
I found all kinds of ways to work around the school system. I hired tutors to coach her. I negotiated high school credit from outside activities. I tried Brownies, soccer, piano lessons, and summer camps. I forced her to audition for a prestigious private choir because of her marvelous singing ability—even though she was frightened of the other choir members. I tried everything I could think of to make my autistic child smile.
Being a helicopter parent is a natural outcome of the crazy-making AS/NT world. Our natural instincts are to protectively hover over our children when they have such a serious disability.
However, there are serious drawbacks to helicopter parenting. It leaves you very little time to relax and enjoy your children. As the super-responsible parent, you circle your child with help while not leaving enough time for hugs and play.
Lessons I learned from my ASD daughter:
Helicopter parenting is a natural by-product of loving your very dependent child. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are over-reacting. Your strongest asset is your heart.
- Channel your helicoptering into finding a good psychologist or Asperger Syndrome specialist.
- Join a support group like Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD.
- Read everything you can about Asperger Syndrome.
- Join your local Autism Society affiliate. It’s important that you socialize with other parents and spouses who share your experience.
- Don’t blame yourself for your mistakes. Love yourself enough to keep on creating a meaningful life in spite of them.
- Take time to relax and play.
Yes, there have been tremendous improvements in understanding Asperger’s Syndrome. But we have a long way to go to help our AS/NT families. I’ve made it my mission to be a source of knowledge and support. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an in-person appointment. If you live elsewhere and are seeking information on ASD, please take advantage of my online education.