Let’s face it…..it is not hard to believe that in raising children all parents endure a fair amount of tension, interrupted by occasional periods of intense stress. That’s life. But if you are a parent of a child coping with the challenges of autism the amount of stress and frustration can magnify to the point of creating health concerns (mental and physical). The following factors or techniques can produce some relief.
1.Confirmed diagnosis. There is very little else that can lift the fog of “what ifs,” “am I a really bad parent?” or “am I crazy?” as fast as the knowledge that there is a reason for the strange behaviour and some hope for the future.
2.Get comfortable with the diagnosis. Acceptance is the first step in learning who your child is and what they need most to be successful in our world. Far more harm than good comes from hiding from the descriptor “autism spectrum” and remember it is just a small part of who your child truly is.
3.Be an educated consumer. Get information. There is so much available on therapies and treatment of autism spectrum. What resources are out there, how do you access them, what do caregivers and teachers need to know to best support your child? Join a support organization that will assist you in staying abreast of new developments, techniques and programs.
4.Join a support group. Only another parent of a child like yours can truly understand. No doctor or professional can offer the type of suggestions and support that have come from first-hand, trial and error experience.
5.Take time for tears, sometimes there is nothing more cleansing. Acknowledge that it is OK to feel overwhelmed. Take care of yourself….respite is NOT a four letter word. Ask for and accept help, it is mutually beneficial.
6.Jealously guard your other relationships. Your spouse and other children (if you have them) certainly do need you just as much as your challenged child does. Without taking time to ensure the stability of those in your life you may erode the very support you need the most.
7.Get legal advice and be sure to keep your will in order. A staggering percentage of families do not and it’s just one of those things too easily put off that contributes to growing stress burdens.
8.Understand that autism is NOT something we can or should “cure”. Also know that it will change your life. Look for the benefits not the shortcomings.
9.Recognize that sometimes no one knows what to do and the most important thing is to remember to survive with dignity.
10.Pat yourself on the back when things go well and celebrate the victories!