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How to connect with your autistic child (booklet)

Connect with your autistic child: A booklet to help

Updated: August 11, 2023 · 20 Minute Read

Amy Gong

Reviewed by:

Amy Gong, Neurodiversity Advocate


  • Secure attachment is the sign of a healthy parent/child relationship in which your child trusts you and feels confident in exploring the world around them.
  • Our children’s behavior is communication, and that although some of their behaviors may be “abnormal” to others, they’re normal to our children.
  • Learn about negative and positive sensory input and how it affects your child.
  • Be available and consistent with your child —this helps form the secure attachment they need to develop better self esteem, better social skills, and reduce challenging behaviors.

Connecting with your autistic child can be a challenge for many parents. As parents to special needs children, it can feel sometimes like they’re just out of our reach. Many parents remark that their autistic kiddo seems to be “in their own world”. We love them infinitely, but we don’t always know how to show it in a way that’s comfortable or relatable to them. So, how do we build meaningful and genuine connections with our autistic kids?





About this booklet

This free connection guide is just one part of a larger series about autism and attachment, available (also for free) in our Learning Center.


Written by a neurodivergent mother of an autistic child with the help of an autism professional and neurodivergent childcare assistant, it is our hope that these guides will help parents of autistic children understand, engage with, and bond with their children in a truly life-changing way.



Booklet snippets

" attachment means your child trusts you and feels safe with you. This is the foundation for a healthy, meaningful, and loving relationship with any child, whether they have autism or not. When a child doesn’t have secure attachment with their parent or caregiver, it can lead to lower self-esteem, being less empathetic, behavior problems, difficulties with concentration and focus, and more."


"Celebrating our children for who they are (not broken, not abnormal) helps them develop a positive sense of self-identity, which leads to better mental health and self esteem. The way our children think about themselves starts with us. What you are grieving is your own expectations, not your child! Your child hasn't stopped being the wonderful person you already love."


"I used to get so angry at my son for certain things he’d do, until I realized it was because he had a sensory need or was seeking a certain experience. For example, he used to throw everything off the bench and stand on it. At first, I was very frustrated with him. I was like, “why are you doing that? It’s a big mess!” Then I realized he just wanted to stand on the bench so he could pretend to be on stage and perform."


"...too much noise may lead to dysregulation, but the right music at the right time may help them stay calm or even motivate them. Certain tactile input from clothing, light touch, etc., may be irritating and contribute to dysregulation to some children, but some comforting touch (like hugs, squeezes, back rubs) may help them stay regulated. A meltdown at the store may be caused by crowds, loud music playing, and fluorescent lights -- but could be prevented or lessened by bringing along your child's headphones, tablet, and favorite blanket or stuffed animal."


"The number one parenting tip I share with parents (whether their child is autistic or not) is "Pick your battles; is this the hill you want to die on?" At what point do you just give up on putting the bow in their hair, or the matching sweater? It's likely you're stressing yourself out over battles that don't need to be fought, and can't be "won." Your child actually can't stop fixating on that object no matter how many times you tell them "no," so the best course of action is to just remove the temptation."


Download the connection guide!


"When my son first started fecal smearing, AKA poop smearing, I was so confused and angry. I didn't know it was sensory seeking behavior, and I had no idea how to handle it. After I understood, I sought out ways to help him fulfill his sensory needs so he doesn’t feel the need to smear. Because our kids have unique needs and habits, we have to learn what is “normal” for them, rather than what is “normal” by neurotypical standards."


"Keep yourself in the equation. You can't do everything your child wants all the time. We often avoid setting boundaries with our autistic kiddos because we don’t want to upset them or set off a tantrum. In reality, we’re shielding them from experiencing disappointment. When we avoid allowing our kids to experience the occasional disappointment, it can lead to increased behavior challenges and affect the parent/child relationship."


"...instead of “I need my kid to nap so I can have a break” (we’ve all been there) think “My child will feel better once they've rested, and so will I." Make it about your child's well-being. After all, that's all we want, right? We want our kids to be healthy and happy. Re-route your thoughts about your child through that lens. It's okay to feel frustrated -- we all do! Process that feeling, but reframe it to center yourself back to a place of connection."


"Studies show that parenting style matters even more for kids with developmental differences like autism because they don't have as many protective factors to shield them from trauma. For some reason, parents of autistic children tend to practice [authoritative] parenting less, but those who do practice it have children who present with less challenging behaviors, better social-emotional skills, and more secure attachment with their caregivers. "