Should I get an Autism Life Coach?

Coaches work closely with families to identify strengths and weaknesses in their child's abilities and teach them effective methods for managing challenging situations.

5 MIN READ

What is Autism Coaching?

Autism coaching is a specialised form of autism advocacy that focuses on helping parents and caregivers understand how to help their child with autism.

An autism coach is someone who helps families understand what their child is experiencing and provides strategies to improve his/her behaviour and communication skills. Coaches work closely with families to identify strengths and weaknesses in their child's abilities, and offer suggestions to effectively manage challenging situations.

Coaching is not just about helping parents manage their child's behaviour.  Rather, it involves helping them become aware of their own emotions and thoughts, and understanding how these affect their interactions with their child. Parents need to know themselves well enough to recognise when they are being overly controlling or judgmental, and to stop doing things that might make their child feel worse.

The term "coach" implies that you are being guided toward success. But in reality, there is no magic formula for how to become a better parent. There is no one way to raise a successful child. Every family faces unique challenges and circumstances. However, being able to collaborate and bounce ideas off a parent that's been there is valuable.

Parents often feel like they are doing everything right, but still find themselves struggling to navigate school-related concerns, prepare for school meetings and know how to advocate for their child. Parents may even find themselves feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of decisions they must make each day. This is where autism coaching can help.

There is a growing number of parents that are like we were at the start of our autism story.  They have a burning knowing that something is missing with the standard autism support pathway.  There are too many assumptions and the approach is very narrow.  Having a coach to navigate the big wide world of autism with you can be very helpful. 

Why Parents Should Consider an Autism Coach.

Parents play a critical role in helping their child succeed. But sometimes, parents don't know where to start. That's where an autism coach comes in.

An autism coach can help parents gain insight into their child's unique personality and interests, and tailor activities accordingly. He/she can also help parents learn how to interact with their child in a way that encourages him/her to participate in daily routines.

Additionally, an autism coach can help parents understand their own feelings and reactions to their child's behaviour, and use that knowledge to effectively parent. Finally, an autism coach can serve as a resource for parents seeking additional educational options for their child.

By working together, parents and coaches can create a plan that addresses each family member's specific needs. A good coach will ask questions to get to the root cause of problems and then offer solutions based on the individual situation. He/she will also encourage parents to take responsibility for their child's success and give praise when he/she does something right.

A coach can also help parents set goals for their child's future and monitor progress toward achieving those goals. Additionally, a coach can help parents build relationships with other caregivers and educators, including doctors, teachers, counsellors, and therapists. 

One important aspect of being an autism parent is awareness.  Being able to notice triggers or patterns that result in a particular behaviour or response.  Too often we are encouraged to think that if a behaviour is "bad", we should train them out of it via imposing consequences.  A better approach is to develop your awareness as a parent, so that you know the cause of the behaviour.  A child doesn't act "bad" because they are naughty.  There is always a reason.  Coaches can help parents develop their awareness and know what to look for.  It's amazing how much talking to someone that asks questions to help you uncover new insights can help.

Doctors, psychologists and other health professionals working with autism spectrum disorder are in high demand.  They don't have the time or training to support your whole family and all the challenges that come with autism.  A coach that has walked a similar path to what you're facing can provide benefits that support and extend beyond the standard pathway.

Is Autism Coaching a good fit for you?

If your child is newly diagnosed with autism, you may be a good fit for an autism coach. You might feel like there is no one else out there who understands what you are going through. Or maybe you've been struggling with some of the same issues for years. Either way, it's important to know that you aren't alone.

If you can benefit from the attributes of an autism coach as described above, it's worth looking at getting an autism coach.  It's important to find the right coach that can help you with the areas that you want help with.  Every person and family is different, so there won't be one coach for everyone.

If your mind is spinning from all the information, ideas and options that are available, and you don't know how to navigate your path, a coach would be a great fit.  In our  experience, we would have saved a lot of money on choices we made that didn't help, if we had better support.

As a parent of an autistic child, you'll probably forget to take care of yourself sometimes. And since most of us don't talk much about our feelings, we tend to isolate ourselves. While one of the challenges that an autistic person may have is lagging social skills, we parents often cut ourselves off from our social circle, just to help cope with the new challenges.  Your social life will likely change with your new challenges.  So being able to talk to someone who knows exactly how you feel can really help.

What you can expect from an autism coach.

A good coach will be able to listen to parents with the desire to understand their needs and perspectives.  They will be flexible and adaptable to changing situations and new information.  

A good coach will support parents through challenges and frustrations.  They will be non-judgemental. They will be a person that you can feel comfortable being open and honest and will have your back when needed.  They will advocate for you and your whole family, while being supportive and encouraging.  

Coaches will offer ideas and suggestions to parents, but not pressure them to do anything that they are not comfortable doing.  A coach will be able to understand your situation in great detail, then taken a step back to consider options that may be of interest to you that you haven't thought of yet.  

An Autism Coach should give families practical tips on how to cope with everyday situations.  This includes helping parents learn how to set boundaries, manage stress, deal with meltdowns, and communicate effectively.  Parents may fall into the trap of focussing too much on autism, which can affect the wellbeing of their other children and themselves.  A coach can help you develop a more balanced life, which is incredibly important.

An Autism Coach should guide families towards finding the best therapies for their child, including opening their mind to ideas that they may not have considered or heard about yet.  They will also help parents find resources, such as books, websites, online communities and local services.

Overall, you can expect to improve your quality of life.  Even possibly more so than the life you had before autism.  Although autism can present challenges to daily living, and sometimes can seem too much to handle, you will benefit from the experience if you have the right support.
Natural Autism Support offer group coaching and one-on-one coaching

Author

Warren Gouin
Warren Gouin

I'm a parent of a child that was diagnosed with autism. I'm an engineer and scientist with most of my career in the diagnostic pathology industry. I'm passionate about improve health and I want to help other parents of children with autism.

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