Many parents struggle with having to share custody of their child instead of being there whenever and wherever they need them following their divorce. This is even more challenging for parents who have a child with special needs, like autism.
No two individuals with autism are the same. One child’s social or emotional concerns may be significantly different from another’s. You need to account for these when deciding on custody arrangements with your co-parent.
Custody and the neurodivergent child
Neurotypical children may be better at adapting to change than neurodivergent ones. Your autistic child is most apt to thrive when their schedule is consistent or they have set routines. The prospect of your child traveling back-and-forth between homes may be anything but productive for their socialization and emotional wellbeing.
A very strict custody schedule may be one option that could work since that would give your child some routine. Another option that you may want to give some thought to is “birdnesting.” It allows your child to remain in the marital home while you and your co-parent switch out who lives there at any given time, depending on your predesignated schedule.
Calendars can also help manage the needs of your autistic child. Even younger children can learn to mark the days until the next time they see their other parent. You and your co-parent can also use electronic devices — like computers, tablets and phones — so that your child can communicate with ease with each of you. That may help them better cope with their fears or concerns.
Many challenges come with raising an autistic child, but many parents report that the benefits sure outweigh any obstacles they may face. You’ll want to take charge of your custody situation now to ensure that your child is best supported as they grow.