Autistic Child Very Clingy?

Written By Autism Parents

A collection of parents navigating our way around raising children with autism

Autistic Child Very Clingy?

Being a parent of a child with ASD can be rewarding and challenging, but what do you do if your autistic child is very clingy?

Autism and being clingy

It’s perfectly normal for children to be clingy to their parents, especially when they’re young.

But for some children with autism, clinginess can be a more persistent issue.

Some parents enjoy the fact that that their autistic child is clingy. After all it highlights the fact that they need and love them.

However with that said it can become a problem over time, especially when it comes to leaving them with others.

So let’s dig into the behaviour and establish what could be causing it and what you can do.

Predicability and routine

Autistic kids often thrive in structured environments and find comfort in familiar routines.

When faced with changes or uncertainty, they may resort to clinging to their parents as a means of seeking stability and security.

Their parents represent safety and security in what otherwise can be a confusing and overwhelming world.

Being clingy can almost snowball in that they feel comfortable with their parent so that becomes a routine in itself.

Comfort = Parent = Routine

Social struggles

Social interactions can be particularly challenging for autistic children.

By clinging to their parents, they may feel safer in social situations.

They perceive their parents as a source of support and protection from difficult social environments.

A clingy autistic child probably feels complete comfort with their parents who understand their social quirks and difficulties.

Communication difficulties

Many autistic children face challenges in expressing themselves verbally.

Clinging to their parents might be their way of seeking comfort as they are the only one who understands them.

Thinking logically if you believed that there were only one or two people in the world who you could communicate with, naturally you’d want to be with them.

Associated with care

An autistic child may have needs far outweighing neurotypical peers. This could for example be that they are not toilet trained at a later age.

Over time they would have realised that it is their parents who care for them and ensure their needs are met.

The thought of being away from that comfort blanket can be very distressing.

Have you got a very clingy autistic child?

What parents can do

As parents, it’s essential to respond to your child’s clinginess with empathy and understanding.

Here are some strategies to support and foster a secure bond with your autistic child while addressing their clinginess:

Be patient

It’s important to remember that clinginess is often a sign that your child is feeling insecure or anxious.

Be patient with them and try to understand why they’re feeling the way they are.

Trying to overcome this behaviour may require tiny incremental steps, so don’t expect improvements to come overnight.

Introduce new environments gradually

Introduce new environments or social situations gradually, giving your child time to adjust and feel more at ease.

An example of this would be if you were intending on leaving your child with a babysitter or relative, allow them some time to acclimatise to that person.

In that example spend time with the babysitter when you are present, then gradually ease your way out of the room.

It may take a number of visits but over time your child will begin to feel comfortable with them.

The same technique could be used with leaving your child at a new school. Work with the teachers to allow the drop off to be a gradual process.

Build routines

As mentioned above, routines can be extremely important to an autistic child.

Establishing consistent routines can provide a sense of security for your child. Knowing what to expect can help alleviate anxiety and reduce clinginess.

Routines can also involve them being away from their parents.

For example if you are trying to leave them at a sports club, try to ensure that the sports club is on the same evening each week.

If your child knows what is coming then they are far more likely to be receptive to separation.

Something like a schedule board may help with this tactic.

Teach coping strategies

Help your child learn coping mechanisms for managing stress and anxiety.

These strategies can empower them to handle challenging situations more independently.

This could include them bringing something comforting from home when they are apart from parents.

Or even parents have had success teaching their child deep breathing calming methods.

Take care of yourself

Caring for a clingy autistic child can be emotionally demanding.

Remember to take care of yourself as well, seeking support and respite when needed.

Speak to networks of parents in similar situations who may be able to help you with tips and tricks.

Summary – Autistic Child Very Clingy

The clinginess of an autistic child is a natural response to their unique experiences and challenges in navigating the world.

By understanding the reasons behind their clinginess and responding with compassion and patience, parents can provide the nurturing environment their child needs to thrive.

Embrace the journey with your autistic child, and together, you can build a bond that will strengthen both of you for a lifetime.

About the author

A collection of parents navigating our way around raising children with autism.

Leave a comment