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Co-Parenting a Child with Autism

4 tips for co-parents with an autistic child.

Co-parenting a child with autism comes with unique challenges. In any co-parenting relationship, consistency and stability are key for your child, but these are especially important factors for a child with autism.

About one in every 44 kids has been identified with autism spectrum disorder

That’s according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. The number of people diagnosed with autism has risen sharply over the last two decades, making this an increasingly common situation for co-parents. Here are 4 tips to help you co-parent a child with autism:

  1. Simplify your custody schedule. Switching between two homes can be stressful for any child, but especially for a child with special needs. Kids with autism struggle with change, so it’s important for you and your co-parent to keep your custody exchange schedule as simple and consistent as possible.
  2. Stick to routines. It’s important for you and your co-parent to replicate routines in each home as best as you can. According to the Marcus Autism Center, all children learn well from repetition, and children with autism especially appreciate predictability and patterns. Sticking to a set routine in both homes when it comes to custody transitions, sleep schedules, eating habits, schoolwork or activities, and play time will benefit your child immensely.
  3. Stay organized. Children with autism are comforted by organization and planning. It’s crucial to keep all communication and coordination between you and your co-parent as organized as possible, so you can minimize chaos or unknowns surrounding your child. A co-parenting communication service, like TalkingParents, can help you keep your co-parenting life in order. Features like the Shared Calendar and Info Library allow you maintain a well-organized schedule and carefully documented information cards regarding your child.
  4. Reduce conflict. You and your co-parent should strive to keep all communication and coordination surrounding your child as conflict-free as possible. Getting highly emotional or arguing in front of a child with autism is extremely stressful for them. If you and your co-parent struggle with a high-conflict relationship, TalkingParents can help. All communications within TalkingParents are kept on an Unalterable Record, keeping both parents accountable for their words and actions.

Putting your child’s needs above all else is the most important thing

As with all parenting situations, putting the needs of your child first is the best philosophy. Children with autism require stability, care, and attention to succeed. As a co-parent, providing these basic necessities will go a long way for your child’s overall health and well-being. For more information, watch our webinar, Mediating for Families with Special Needs Children

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