By Kasey Umana
Staying up all night worrying sick, fighting for services and health care, sacrificing careers, giving up social lives, are the common struggles parents with an autistic child face in their everyday lives. Like they say, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, even when the tunnel seems like it is never going to end.
Everyone on this earth deals with stress, but studies show that parents of children on the autism spectrum suffer from stress the most. Common things a parent might think is how their child received Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Typically, they may also feel guilty and think they should have done something differently to prevent their child from ASD. Truthfully, there is nothing a parent can do to prevent autism. On the bright side, there are other things mothers and fathers can do to help their child.
First and foremost, the way a parent sees ASD will affect how their child will react to ASD. Children with autism love in different ways and the main goal of a parent should be to learn to love the way their child loves. Sometimes autistic children do not show emotion that represents the way they are feeling, but that does not mean the parents should stop trying.
With an ASD diagnosis for a child, comes anxiety and maybe even depression for a parent. Men and women deal with depression in many different ways. For example, constant worries, and hopeless feelings are extremely common for parents with an autistic child. The most important thing these parents should know is, you are not alone! In fact, 1 in 88 children is on the autistic spectrum, which means 1 in 88 mothers and fathers are struggling too. Over the years, studies have found that communicating with other individuals going through similar events in their lives can help with your mental health. Speaking to someone who understands can reassure you that other people in the world understand what you are going through.
The best thing parents with an autistic child can do is help themselves. “Don’t worry about me” is commonly said from an overworked parent. But positive mental health for the parent actually helps for the mental health of the child. Support groups for parents with autistic children offer a place for parents to share experiences, get information and advice, learn new coping mechanisms, learn about the importance of relationships with school teachers, therapy ideas, and they even offer a welcoming setting to make friends. Many adults part of support groups admits that the best part is knowing that other families are going through the exact same thing they are. “It’s really nice to know that I’m not alone in this. It’s refreshing to know that other parents have bad days with their child” says a mother who recently joined a support group through her local care center. In support groups, you learn how to take care of yourself, which ultimately will help your child. It’s important to keep positive thoughts flowing through your home, because this will help give you, your autistic child, and the rest of your family hope for the future.
Support groups offer an accepting environment for you and your child. Your child can meet children just like them, this will most likely make it easier for them to get along. Many parents face the struggle of being unable to bring their autistic child in public areas because of tantrums, high energy, or even just worrying about their child not fitting in. The support group is a great place to meet families with children similar to yours.
If you do not have time to leave home for support groups, no worries are necessary; we are in the year 2017! Many websites offer online chats, so you can get all the support you need from the comfort of your own home.
Wanting to get away for a day is completely normal too. Support groups introduce at home or facility caregivers that specialize in autistic children. Some parents may not be comfortable with letting another adult care for their child, and that is okay too.
Keep in mind, that having a caregiver look after your child for a day, couple days, or even a weekend, is actually good for you and your child. Your child will learn that their mother or father will not always be able to help, and it is good for them to trust other individuals other than their family. On the other hand, having a caregiver gives the parents a chance to relax. A small break from your child does not mean you love them any less, instead, it means you love yourself too.
Many support groups also have guest speakers, that happen to be on the autistic spectrum. These speakers are meant to give parents hope for their child’s future. If the speaker can conquer his/her difficulties, so can your child! Speakers will commonly talk about the struggled they faced growing up, and how they overcame them.
Every parent wants what is best for their child, but every once in a while they need to think for themselves too. Having a child on the autistic spectrum can be challenging at times, but that does not mean that there is no hope. Your child will conquer difficulties he/she faces throughout their life, and so can you! Friends, doctors, caregivers, and even support group members are willing to help you and your child. No one has to face difficult times alone, so do not make things more stressful on yourself by not accepting help. Always remember, helping yourself will, in the long run, help your child.