Autism tips to know as you start your journey!

May 31, 2018

If I Need Help asked our friends who have adult children with special needs to share “3 things I wish I knew when my child was first diagnosed that I know now” Todays’ Autism tips for parents are from Shelly McLaughlin and Syrenthia Farris. They share the important things they wish they knew when her child was diagnosed.

If I Need Help makes wearable iD and offers a free Caregiver controlled special needs registry for our loved ones who may wander or need assistance in a critical moment.

Shelly and her son Hunter

Autism tips 3 things I Wish I Knew When my Child was Diagnosed that I Know Now!

When Hunter was first diagnosed with Autism I felt alone with a sense of grief. Fortunately, I was able to connect with local support groups and with Pathfinders for Autism (which would ultimately become my career). I wish someone would have reassured me that I was going to find incredibly supportive people through this journey. Without Hunter’s diagnosis, I would have missed opportunities to meet some amazing people.

It’s been at least eight years, but still fresh in my mind. The nightmare of being at the grocery store check-out and watching my four-year old son run out the automatic door and straight into the parking lot. But bolting from the scene didn’t only happen at grocery stores – it seemed to happen from every location. I wish someone would have told me that it would be possible he would one day outgrow his tendency to wander and elope (and fortunately he did).

ALL children have challenges.

But when your child with Autism has difficulties, we tend to blame everything on the diagnosis. I wish when Hunter was younger I could have better understood that some bad behaviors, while undesirable, are age appropriate and unrelated to his Autism.

Since embracing this journey with my son, I have developed and conducted Autism Trainings for various organizations including the Maryland State Police, Maryland Capitol Police, multiple County Police/Sheriff’s Departments, fire departments, EMS staff, corrections officers and other professional organizations. I am a certified police instructor by the Maryland Police and Corrections Training Commission, CIT certified through Montgomery County Police, and certified in Mental Health First Aid through Harford County Sheriff’s Office. I have also written several of our PFA Tips articles that have appeared in other publications, such as Chicago Special Parent Magazine and Autism Parenting Magazine.

Shelly McLaughlin
Director of Safety Programs
Pathfinders for Autism

Stephan and his Mom Syrenthia

3 Autism tips that I Wish I Knew When my Child was Diagnosed that I Know Now!

1.) The importance of Self-care. I wish I knew back then how important it was so I could have start early on.
2.) How raising autism has been such a blessing and positive impact on my life and the ones I serve/advocate for.
3.) Autism would place some wonderful individual in my path and there is support you just have to ask for it #Resource

When I was just 19, my 2 year old son Stephen was diagnosed with autism.

I had to become a strong advocate and navigated through an endless maze of doctors, clinics and treatment centers. After 20 years of advocating and serving as the primary caregiver for my son I reached a breaking point. I was emotionally exhausted and had to enlist the support of close friends and family to rejuvenate and jump start my life. The process was endless and needed deliberate amounts of self care. It was this experience that birthed Parents of Children with All Special Needs POCWASN.

Syrenthia Farris
Founder and CEO