Parenting a child with autism is not easy as it presents several regular challenges, even more so given that it’s a lifelong chronic condition. Naturally, parents tend to spend a lot of time thinking about their children’s future. Even more so if there is autism in the picture. Apart from the additional medical care and therapies that children with autism might require, various parenting strategies and practical approaches help and can make a difference.

As a starting point, parents need to bear in mind that no two children on the autism spectrum are alike. What works with one might not necessarily work with the other. Working with their environment and those who interact with your children can bring about positive change. The following strategies might be very useful:

  • Avoid having to wait for a diagnosis

Ideally, treatments such as early intervention and Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) therapy begin as early as possible without having to wait for the official diagnosis. As parents, you can start by seeking out help and researching developmental milestones as soon as you suspect that there might be something wrong. Especially since research shows that the earlier the treatment, the more likely it is for your children to make progress and speed up their development. Once there is an official diagnosis, parents can start learning more about autism and what can help them prevent unwanted behaviours.

  • Focus on the positive

Positive reinforcement tends to work well with any child. Therefore, the more you praise them for good behaviour, the better. You also need to be specific in terms of what you liked about their behaviour. Parents also need to find doable ways of rewarding their children. Such as extra playtime or a small token like a sticker. Most importantly, parents need to love their children for who they are. Irrespective of whether they’re on the spectrum or not. 

  • Listen to them calmly and with an open mind

Children on the spectrum are more likely to refuse to do something that they do not want to do, despite your attempts to reason things out. Therefore, it is advisable to keep an open mind. As well as, try to understand their reasons for resisting and their social habits. The best way to get to their perspective is by listening and understanding before intervening.

  • Provide a routine and structure

Children on the spectrum need consistency and a schedule. Given that they struggle to apply what they have learned in treatment to settings outside of therapy, create consistency to reinforce learning. This is especially important during challenging behaviour. Adding to this, they require a highly structured schedule and routine, which includes creating a plan with regular mealtimes, school activities, therapy, and preparation for bedtime. Ideally, children need to be prepared in advance whenever there is a necessary schedule change.

Many children on the spectrum are hypersensitive to sound, light, touch, taste, and even smell. Nonetheless, some others are less sensitive to stimuli like temperature and pain. By understanding and accommodating sensory issues, you can help ease your children’s ability to learn, interact, and communicate. 

Ultimately, as much as raising a child with autism is exhausting, it is equally rewarding. Should you require support, do not hesitate to do so as it’s not always possible to do it alone. It is also recommended to take a break sometimes to look after your mental health and to ensure that you can give your children the best.

Johanna Cutajar is a Master in Counselling graduate from the University of Malta. She works with children and adolescents as a counsellor within the education sector on a variety of issues including relationship issues, trauma, bereavement, transitions, and general mental health.

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.


Hatchett, K. (2023). 10 Parenting Tips on How to Raise a Child With Autism. Retrieved from