Involving Extended Family to Support Children with Autism | Salma Safira Sukma from BehaviorPALS Center| Kinderkloud

Involving Extended Family to Support Children with Autism

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Having a positive relationship with the extended family is important for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). It will help them feel secure and loved as well as giving them a sense of belonging. Your extended family also plays a huge role in your child’s life that can support their development. Moreover, their help will be a great support for you too as parents of children with ASD, so you don’t have to handle everything on your own.

However, asking for help from your extended family is not always easy. They might need some time and help as well to adjust with your family situation. Here are some ways parents can do to involve extended family into the life of children with autism:

1. Acknowledge their feelings about the diagnosis

Your extended family can be overwhelmed or finding it hard to understand after hearing about your child’s diagnosis. You might feel the same way when you first heard of it yourself from your child’s doctor. It can be difficult for the whole family to know exactly what the diagnosis means to your child, to you, and your extended family. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge their feelings or concerns and give them some time to adjust.

2. Give them basic knowledge about autism spectrum disorders

Let your family learn about autism by giving them basic information on what the key characteristics of autism look like. Make sure they understand that autism is a spectrum disorder, so each child with autism can develop different issues and it is not something that can be “cured.” Encourage them to read more about autism from credible resources or listen to stories about families of children with autism.

3. Explain how autism affects your child

Each child with autism may present different behavior, so it is best to tell your extended family on how the condition affects your child’s behavior specifically. For example, you can tell them if your child is not comfortable with physical touch or is sensitive with lights and noises, so they can understand why your child is behaving in a certain way. 

4. Let them know how to interact and connect with your child

Tell your extended family the best way to approach your child and connect with them. You can do this by letting them know what are the things or activities that your child likes and dislikes. It is also best to tell them your child’s level of verbal communication abilities and guide them on how to best communicate with your child. 

5. Include them in your child’s routine

You can set up weekly get-togethers with your extended family, visit their homes routinely, or do activities together that are suitable to your child’s level of development. You can also ask for your family’s help to watch your child every once a week, so you can have a break. By making this a routine, your child will have the opportunity to connect and get used to their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. This will help them feel comfortable with their family’s presence around them, even in cases of surprise visits. 

 

References: 

Autism spectrum disorders fact sheet: How friends & extended family can help. (n.d.). Synapse. Retrieved April 9, 2023 from http://www.autism-help.org/family-friends-support-autism.htm

Extended family and friends: Supporting families with autistic children. (2020, December 10). Raising Children Network Australia. Retrieved April 9, 2023 from https://raisingchildren.net.au/autism/communicating-relationships/family-relationships/family-friends-asd

Positive relationships in families with autistic children. (2020, December 10). Raising Children Network Australia. Retrieved April 9, 2023 from https://raisingchildren.net.au/autism/communicating-relationships/family-relationships/family-relationships-asd 

Siblings/Extended family. (n.d.). Milestones Autism Resources. Retrieved April 9, 2023 from https://www.milestones.org/get-started/for-families/siblingsextended-family 

 

By: Salma Safira Sukma Ikhsani, S.Psi. from BehaviorPALS

involve, extended family, support, children, autism

Special Needs / Berkebutuhan Khusus / Parenting / Pola Asuh / Family / Keluarga / Involving Extended Family to Support Children with Autism

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