Time and again, I get the question from well-intentioned friends wondering, “What can I do?” – friends who want to know how they can help us navigate the everyday waters of life on the spectrum. We are so very blessed to be in this place, at this time, to be surrounded by a community of those who care enough to ask.
The answer, though, sometimes throws people a curve. Because autism is so complex, many people expect that answer to be complex as well. Perhaps that’s why so many who want to ask don’t, because they’re afraid the answer may be too much. But here’s the thing, parents of a child on the spectrum are not likely going to say, “How can you help? Take over!” No, it just won’t happen. We realize this is not something someone can just jump into. It takes time, just as any relationship does. And truly, that’s the answer: build a relationship.
You can help by building a relationship with our child. Build on our relationship to include our child. Sure, the first few times you say hello, he may look right through you and dart to the other room to return to his crayons and notebook, but he may surprise you. In fact, the next time you see him, he may seek you out and say, “Ohhhhhh, hello ‘dere!” and shake your hand.