Parents often ask, “Can my autistic child become normal?” when considering autism treatments. The question doesn’t have a simple answer. Let’s discuss what the question means and how to cope as a parent of an autistic child.
There is no autism cure
An autistic child grows up into an autistic adult. Your autistic child will always be neurodivergent and always be on the autism spectrum. Autism treatment is not actually treatment.
You can put your child through intensive behavioral therapy akin to a full-time job in hopes that your autistic child will grow up to lead a life like their non-autistic peers. You even find parents and studies that promise this is possible.
However, that child on the autism spectrum is still autistic. If you don’t see their autism traits anymore, it’s because they have developed an autistic mask.
No child is normal
The definition of normal is conforming to an expected standard. That standard is determined by the majority. Society was built by and for neurotypical people, so they set the standard.
Autism is a neurological disorder, not an intellectual disorder. There is nothing inherently wrong with autism. Individuals on the autism spectrum can also have intellectual disorders, but the two are not synonymous (the same).
Are you concerned because your child has autism? Or are you concerned because your autistic child may also have an intellectual disorder?
Normal is but a social construct that only exists because the majority says so.
How to increase your autistic child’s quality of life
People on the autism spectrum have potential to lead a good, fulfilling life — they need the support of their guardians to help them get there.
Counseling or therapy to teach coping strategies
Autistic people are more susceptible to self-injurious behaviors when they’re frustrated — like slamming their hands on the sharp edge of a table or digging their nails into their skin. They’re also three times more likely to commit suicide.
While you might dream your child living a life free of autism, forcing them to mask their autism will drive them straight into burnout. What they need from you is freedom to be themselves, and a legitimate therapist to talk to and learn healthy coping strategies from.
Stimming is not bad — it’s self-regulation, a vital autistic trait. What I mean by coping mechanisms is that they need to learn how to survive in a world that was not built with them in mind and is constantly reminding them they don’t fit in.
You might think you are fully capable of this, but you don’t have to do everything. Your child needs to be able to talk to someone who isn’t you, because they are going to have frustrations they can’t share with you. Practice self-care by outsourcing therapy.
Teach life skills that neurotypical people take for granted
Every task divides into several smaller tasks. Examples of life skills your autistic child needs to learn so they can live a somewhat “normal” life are:
- how to identify their current sensory needs
- finding and stocking up on safe foods
- creating a routine that works for them and sticking to it
- gracefully leaving situations that are not good for their well-being
- how to cook basic meals
- managing finances
- transportation (driving, ride share or public)
- how to recognize danger
Accommodations people on the autism spectrum may need
Workplaces will claim to be Equal Opportunity Employers, but still attempt to throw out legal accommodation documents. Self-employment is a highly recommended career choice for autistic people because the benefits far outweigh non-autistic concerns, but it is not an option for everyone.
Accommodations your autistic child might need in the workplace include:
- Noise-cancelling headphones
- Dim office lighting
- Working certain hours
- Written and verbal instructions
- Extra time to process meetings
- Multiple short breaks throughout the day
- Alternative communication options, such as writing on phone notepad
- Position with as little customer interaction as possible
Not every workplace can accommodate every autistic person’s needs, which is why autistic adults are seeking ways to make money with their special interests. No perfect work environment exists, but working for yourself means you don’t have to mask.
Frequently Asked Questions that Parents Ask about their Autistic Child
Can your autistic child become normal? No — but that’s because normal doesn’t exist to begin with.
Make your goal (as is the goal of all parents) to help your child function and thrive as the beautiful person they were created to be.
More Autism Resources for Parents