Autism parents are nothing short of heroes! Raising an autistic child or two is certainly not an easy task! Every day is different and everyday something new pertaining to your child surfaces. Dealing with these new challenges on a daily basis can get particularly tiring and worrisome at times. Sometimes you may feel that no one understands what you are going through whilst on other days, you may be overwhelmed with the amount of support you get from willing family members and friends. However, in all this time, it is most important that parents take out time for themselves and take care of their health as well.
What Struggles Do Parents Of Autistic Children Face?
If you don’t have any children with special needs, it can be difficult to empathize with those that do, which ultimately makes understanding their struggles even harder. Autism parents are often faced with multiple problems due to the nature of problems aroused by autism. Some of these are:
- Long waitlists and doctors’ appointments
- Exhaustion and stress
- Financial concerns
- Concerns about the future
- Marital challenges
- Too much attention and time given to one child
- Social pressures and unwanted questions
Long waits and doctor’s appointments:
Autism parents often have to attend scheduled doctors’ appointments to seek advice on how to get their child treated with the best possible care. This can be straining as it takes up a lot of time, energy, and resources.
Exhaustion and stress:
Additionally, taking care of children with special needs can get pretty stressful and tiring as they need to be looked after round the clock. Especially because their sleeping, eating etc. routines are very different and can vary from day to day.
Resources for special needs children, school fees, doctors’ fees and more can put quite a large financial burden on parents since these are recurring costs that will probably continue until a very long time.
Concerns about the future:
Autism plays out differently in every child and symptoms may vary. This makes the future rather unpredictable and uncertain for parents as they cannot plan things for their child ahead of time. Instead, they have to take things step by step and adapt their decisions and lifestyle to the child.
Balancing marital life can get a bit tough at times in these cases as so much time and effort has to be given to the child, thus, leaving little or no time to couples for themselves. Additionally, differences in opinion surrounding the child’s wellbeing can also stir arguments.
Too much attention given to one child:
Siblings of an autistic child may often feel neglected as parents tend to divert most of their attention to the one in need. This can disrupt family balance as children cannot easily understand their parents’ position and at younger ages need their parents a lot.
Social pressures and unwanted questions:
Managing an autistic child is difficult, but what makes the task harder is people who ask too many questions about the child and are not willing to understand the parents struggles. Additionally, the child also faces resistance from other kids who cannot understand why they are so different, thus, making it more worrisome for parents.
What Are Some Coping Strategies For Autism Parents?
To overcome the exhaustion and stay upright to battle the things to come, parents must give themselves some time off and take care of their needs too! Some of the coping strategies to avoid burnout are listed below:
Make self-care a priority:
While taking out time for yourself might seem next to impossible, it is crucial for your health. Take some time to indulge in a hobby, watch a movie or just catchup with friends for a bit. Not only does this divert your mind from the daily struggles, but also makes you happy and lighthearted when you enjoin in an activity you like.
Outline potential task-easing methods:
It is important that you remain focused, and goal oriented to achieve the best results for both you and your family. It might help to identify one task that you can do which will make the rest of your week easy. Doing this on a weekly basis can help you organize yourself better and may even free up some time for you to give yourself a break!
Balance is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and to achieve this, one must know how to prioritize their tasks and responsibilities. Therefore, keep a diary or a calendar and remember to put the unimportant stuff at the end of the list.
Autism parents also need a break. Hiring a professional or caregiver to look after your young one is always a good option that can be availed. Many areas offer respite care services for autistic individuals. You can either have someone look over them in the comfort of your home, or even drop them off at a care center for a few hours until you do your chores.
Get more sleep:
Getting a solid 8 hours of sleep daily can get particularly difficult given the ups and downs in the routine of autistic children. However, whatever time you do find after your child has gone off to bed, do use it to catchup on your rest so as to avoid health problems associated with exhaustion and sleep deprivation later on.
Overall, autism parents can fall victim to severe burnout due to their rigorous routine and endless list of tasks and responsibilities. However, making time for yourself is key as it can help you avoid multiple health risks and provide you with the energy to carry on.