8 Realistic Parenting Strategies for Children with ADHD and Autism

Children can be one of life’s greatest joys. Every child is special and unique, and requires the attentiveness and care of their parents. Children take a lot of time and effort to raise. This is especially true for children with neurodiversity. Children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or Autism require extra care from their parents (Montes & Montes, 2021).

Now is not a time to feel disappointed or hopeless, even though at time you may feel like it is too much. Your child’s early developmental years are the most crucial years for their growth and learning, and the amount of commitment and care you invest in them can significantly impact your life and their own for years to come.

Being a parent of an ADHD or autistic child requires you to grow as well. Through the process, you can gain your own strength of character. You will need some of the most influential and realistic parenting strategies that will bring the best parenting experience for you and your child and possibly make a significant impact in your everyday life.

This blog post will help you understand what it is like to parent a child with ADHD or Autism and how you can strategically take some crucial steps that will not only help you through their upbringing but also make parenting much easier than you might have expected. So, without any further ado, let’s get right to it.

8 Best Parenting Strategies for Children with ADHD and Autism

To provide the necessary support and structure to a child with ADHD or Autism, parents must understand and implement effective strategies. Here are eight key strategies to help caregivers cope with the challenges associated with these conditions.


1. Providing Visual Support

Visual support can be a powerful tool for helping children with ADHD and Autism to understand and organize their thoughts. Parental visual aids can assist their child in understanding expectations, following routines, and navigating daily activities. This can be anywhere from step-by-step visual guides about how to clean their room, how to prepare to leave for school in the morning, or upcoming events of the day. Etsy has many options to plan for you and your child (weekly editable planner with cards here)

2. Developing Self-Expression and Communication Skills

Autistic and ADHD kids may have difficulty expressing their thoughts and feelings. Giving your child your undivided attention and showing genuine interest in what they say can help them develop communication skills and confidence. Show that you actively listen by maintaining eye contact and using non-verbal cues.

Take part in role-playing activities with your child where you non-verbally show empathy for their emotional state. This helps their mind increase self-awareness by seeing a reflection of themselves. It can also help settle some of the activation occurring inside your child. In this way, they practice social learning and self-development in a supportive, safe environment (Administration of Children and Families, 2023)

3. Keep Your Attitude Consistent

ADHD children often struggle with following directions, and inconsistent parenting can worsen their symptoms. You will help your child feel more secure and less overwhelmed when you set clear and consistent rules for behavior. This does not mean your child will always follow those rules, but keeping your word, and having consistent expectations create a sense of consistency and predictability that leads to less stressful environments.

Consistent parenting can provide a structure that reduces the triggering or worsening of symptoms.

Remember to praise your child when they display positive behavior. Positive reinforcement can build bonds of trust and loyalty. Follow through with consequences when necessary, as expected by your child due to your consistency. Likewise, keep in mind that ADHD children do not misbehave on purpose. Behaviour is the way a child communicates, not with their words. If their behaviour is less than optimal, they may be trying to tell you something, and it’s up to you to help them do the detective work.

4. Connect Non-Verbally

Communication and bonding with an autistic child can be challenging, but you don’t have to speak or even touch to connect and communicate. You communicate by looking at your child, by the tone of your voice, by your body language—and even by touching your child. Even if your child never speaks, they share with you.

Observe nonverbal cues. If you are observant and aware, you can learn to read the nonverbal cues autistic children use to communicate. When they’re tired, hungry, or want something, notice what sounds they make, how they smile, and how they gesture.

Misunderstanding or being ignored are natural feelings for anyone, and children with Autism are no exception. Nonverbal cues are often missed by parents of children with ASD when they act out.

Think about the last time a loved one did not acknowledge you the way you had hoped. Think of the disappointment or frustration. This is true for anyone, especially a child who is neurodiverse. The challenge is that your child may be harder to understand. Be patient with you and your child and focus on boding where they can, instead of what they can’t do.

5. Setting Up a Lenient Home Environment

Our homes must provide a relaxing environment where we can be ourselves. We as parents need to step back and consider what our young person does to self-regulate at these times, then adapt our demands accordingly. We do not learn how to self-regulate. It is a skill that develops within our environments. Lenience implies you are more focused on growing together instead of growing into a false sense of perfection.

Home should be a place where we can express our emotions, even the difficult ones, and reflect on how we handled situations and how we might respond next time. Instead of allowing judgment, accusation, or blame, it should be a place where honest and open communication can flourish. Repair can be the greatest tool you can use as a parent, as discussed in the Ted Talk by Dr. Becky Kennedy (TED, 2023).


6. Assign Your Child Small Tasks Before Tackling Bigger Ones

Children with ADHD may struggle to keep their minds on specific tasks. This may be because the brain wants to jump from place to place, or the memory part of the brain is not interested in storing tedious information related to chores and tasks.

Give your child one task at a time. Have them return to you when the task is done. Use a timer,  counting system, and positive reinforcement to incentivise returning to you with the task complete. Then you can offer the next task. Your child can feel successful, and you can feel less frustration.

7. A Healthy Diet and Regular Physical Activity are Essential

Children with ADHD need to play to release energy and relieve stress. Taking time out for your child to play can help them feel more relaxed and focused when doing their homework or completing their household chores.

A child with ADHD may have a lot of energy. Engaging them in sports and other physical activities allows them to burn off energy productively. Take your child to sports, dance, or art classes that interest them. In contrast, this does not mean filling their schedule with activities. Children with ADHD may also need unstructured activities, like time to run around a playground at their own pace and direction.

It is possible to make a big difference with these simple activities. Better sleep may also reduce ADHD symptoms when exercise is frequent. You can promote healthy sleep by creating a nighttime routine for your children, such as stretching and gratitude for the activities throughout the day.

8. Rewards are Better than Punishments

Children with neurodiversity (ADHD and Autism) respond best to rewards rather than punishments. This is one of the most important things to realize. Moving away from punishment and rewarding the child, albeit a simple reward, speaks the language of ADHD children. Couldn’t we all use a little more positive reinforcement to feel better about ourselves?

Provide Your Special Child with the Tools they Need to Succeed.

It may seem impossible, given all our kids’ challenges, to set them up for success when they have ADHD or Autism; however, it is possible.

First, you must understand your child’s truth—what he is experiencing right now. What is his developmental stage? What needs to be done to help him?

After determining your child’s strengths, interests, and talents, you can decide where they excel. Consider using them in everyday life to adapt to situations so your child has a chance to succeed. Achievability is important for your child, given his disabilities and developmental age.

There are several ways to create opportunities for success. Your child may need accommodations, skills training, or a different environment. For instance, if your child is interested in playing team sports but needs to be up for the competitive nature of mainstream athletics, consider intramural teams or even Special Olympics. Help to create an environment where you both can succeed.

It is common for kids with ADHD and Autism to have social difficulties. Spend time with a counsellor, occupational therapist or close friend to practice social skills and set up your child for success. It is also important to consider your child’s possible social limitations and keep to realistic expectations.


It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there is hope. Each child has their strengths and needs, and you can grow with them through the parenting process.

A supportive environment can ensure that children, regardless of their neurodiversity, can thrive and feel loved no matter what when compassion is our guide.

If you need help and assistance, consider talking to one of our skilled clinicians here at Boomerang Counselling Centre. We have personal and professional experience and understand the intricacies of parenting a child with neurodiversity. You can learn more about us, contact us for any questions, or book a consultation online by clicking here.


Administration of Children and Families. (2023, February 17). Co-regulation: What it is and why it matters.[Youtube]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRMBHQ-Bmk0

Montes, G., & Montes, S. A. (2021). Parental involvement of parents of children with ADHD: A first population study. Journal of Attention Disorders, 25(10), 1497–1505. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054720911099

TED. (2023, September 20). The single most important parenting strategy | Becky Kennedy | TED. [Youtube]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHpPtdk9rco&t=382s


We specialize in a variety of neurodiversity, behavioural, anxiety, attention, learning, social, and emotional problems. We also provide family support through parent coaching, counselling, and reunification.