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Being a Parent of Children with Autism 

September 09 2021


“Being a parent is a difficult task. Being the parent of a child with autism is a more difficult job and a challenge.”

What is autism? 

Autism spectrum disorder is considered a complex neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by persistent alterations in communication and social interaction. It is also marked by the presence of stereotyped patterns of behaviour, activities and interests. It’s a life-long but generally stable condition that involves persistent impairments in language, social skills and daily activities.

Parents of children with autism are absolute heroes.

Mothers and fathers of children with autism may be prone to depression if they feel responsible for the cause or outcome of their child’s disorder. Likewise, parents who feel they can never do enough for their child with autism are likely to suffer from depression.

And I understand why…

Feeling like nothing you do is good enough can increase the risk of experiencing depression. In some cases, individual counselling for mums and dads can be tremendously helpful.

What is a ‘to-do-list’ in the face of so many negatives?

While nothing will change the underlying truth that autism is here to stay, there are ways to help mums and dads cope better with the emotional strain. Here are 12 tips on how to be happy under any circumstances.

  1. Find support among like-minded parents of children with autism.
  2. Seek respite care so that you and your partner can get away together for a well-deserved break.
  3. Seek professional help from a therapist with experience working with families with special needs.
  4. Try journaling to relieve your stress.
  5. Don’t worry about what other people are thinking. Your child needs you to be 100% in tune with them and what they are experiencing, rather than having you worry about how you are perceived. 
  6. Practice breathing exercises, i.e. inhale and exhale slowly. As you breathe, inhale calm, exhale stress. Repeat three times.
  7. Focus on what you can change. This means working on (a) what’s in the present, and (b) your thoughts and actions which you can control.
  8. Remember that every problem has a solution. It’s a matter of breaking it down and solving it.
  9. Update your beliefs. The best beliefs are the ones that empower you.
  10. Recognise there is always something good to be gained from each situation. It’s up to you to find that.
  11. Take stock and be grateful for what you have. Be grateful that you’re not dealing with a worse situation and for life you can enjoy.
  12. Live a purposeful life with goals that inspire you; an empowering life purpose paves the way for a happy life.

What I really would like to say to all parents of autistic children is this: you have to remember to live your own life and take care of yourself! Do whatever it is that lights you up inside – all the things that make you feel whole and alive as you learn to manage the challenges of your child’s needs!

 

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