5 Things I Wish I Learned Sooner {Parenting a Child on the Autism Spectrum}


April is Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month! When I was thinking about what to write about for this month’s article, I thought about the day my son was diagnosed with Autism.

The doctor had come in and put a large packet on the table, filled with charts and data from my son’s testing a few weeks prior. I was eager to know the result, while the doctor was determined to go page by page. I jumped ahead to the back of the packet and read his diagnosis – Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What came next is a blur, but I know there was talk from his doctor about all the therapies and early intervention he would need. I left the hospital clueless on what this meant for my son and my family moving forward.

It’s been four years now since that day, and while I am not a “pro” autism mom, I have learned a thing or two.


If you are new to the world of autism, welcome! I put this list together for YOU. These are my 5 things I wish I learned sooner about parenting a child on the autism spectrum.

Don’t worry about what other people think.

When I was new to the world of autism, I was always worried about what other people thought. My son would have meltdowns in the grocery store or other public places (usually due to sensory challenges), and people would give me THE LOOK. You know, the look of judgment. I would go home and worry about if I upset them and what they thought about me as a parent. It’s been a few years now and I wish I would have learned sooner not to care what they think. Nowadays, if someone stares, I just ignore it or educate them (depending on the situation). This is a skill that took practice. My son is my #1 priority, not those people. You do what you need to do for your child. This is a hard one, but you’ve got this!

Find your tribe.

I love my friends, but they aren’t special needs parents. They haven’t walked in my shoes, and haven’t had the same parenting experience. I don’t feel like they truly “get it.” That’s okay, but I quickly learned that I needed a TRIBE of autistic individuals and other autism parents. I have a select few friends that I go to when I have parenting questions or need advice. They are able to guide me because they understand. I recommend you find YOUR tribe. Join local support groups if you need to. Find a therapist. Whatever you do, find your tribe!

Prioritize independence.

Work on those life skills early and consistently. Things like chores (age appropriate, of course), daily living tasks, hygiene care… etc. For example: my son is 6, and he likes to help me dust, mop, wash laundry, and throw his trash away. I’ve noticed that he actually enjoys helping me. He loves to learn just as much as I love teaching him. I just wish I would have started teaching him life skills sooner.

Your child is exactly who they are supposed to be. 

I’m going to say it again – YOUR CHILD IS EXACTLY WHO THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE! Read that as many times as you need to. Your child is the same kid they were before their diagnosis. My son didn’t magically change the day I found out he was autistic. He was and still is the same boy I fell in love with the day he was born. Our kids are truly amazing and exactly who they were meant to be.

Celebrate everything!

This is almost a mantra in my house. We really do celebrate everything. I don’t care what others think about that (hence my point number 1 from earlier). My son is growing up knowing that his dad and I are SO PROUD of him, no matter how big or how small it may seem to others. We don’t compare him to other people. He is his own person and is learning and growing at his own pace, and we recognize and respect that. Celebrate everything!

There you have it, my 5 things I wish I learned sooner. We aren’t going to be perfect parents… that’s okay! Just do the best you can. Our autistic kiddos are truly a blessing and simply amazing. I am proud to be my son’s mom.

Mama, you’ve got this! Oh…. and Happy Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month!

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Caylin Hunault
I am a twenty-six-year-old momma to a crazy & wild (yet also cuddly and sweet) five-year-old boy! I live in the East side of Cincinnati in a little house that my husband, son, and I make a home. I work for a local cleaning company and attend UC for Special Education. My son has non-speaking autism and a rare brain malformation called Polymicrogyria. He inspired me to write and self-publish a Children's picture book that starts the discussion with kiddos about nonverbal communication methods (sign language, body language, PECS, AAC devices, etc.). In my free time, I enjoy completing DIY projects, adding more houseplants to my indoor "jungle", doing home renovations, writing, and learning new skills. Currently, I am interested in learning wood working! I am passionate about spreading awareness on topics such as mental health, special education, inclusiveness, and the amazingly crazy job that is motherhood!


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