The autism rate in the U.S. is at an all-time high, now affecting 1 in 68 children according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s a 125 percent increase since 2002 when 1 in 156 children were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
This increase has impacted more than just the children living with autism. The entire family is affected by the physical, emotional, social, and financial challenges of raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder. Parenting is stressful and often becomes even more taxing when caring for a child with special needs.
As a parent of a child with autism, you should remember that you’re not alone and that there are many resources like ASDF available to help provide assistance in your community. But first and foremost, you need to take care of yourself. After all, how can you be an effective caregiver for others if you don’t look after yourself as well?
You can’t. And you shouldn’t feel guilty about it! If you’re a parent facing the challenges of autism in your family, take a few moments to reflect on the following tips which will hopefully help recharge your batteries and provide some perspective that you may need right now:
- Don’t ignore your feelings. Talk about them with your spouse and other parents facing similar challenges. It’s okay to have conflicting emotions—from feeling helpless to anger to guilt to depression to confusion to relief to gratefulness and a thousand other emotions—you are entitled to experience and accept all of your feelings.
- Take time out for one-on-one time with your spouse. Whether it’s going for a walk, sharing a bottle of wine, or watching a movie, be careful not to let autism consume every waking moment of your life.
- Get involved with the autism community. Organizations like the Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation and other support groups can help be a lifeline. Make friends with other parents who have children with autism. You may be surprised by the shared challenges, emotions, and gratitude you share with them. Getting involved with autism activism is also empowering, so you will be doing something productive and proactive for yourself and your child with autism.
- Acknowledge and appreciate the small victories your child achieves. It’s easy to focus on the problems, but far more rewarding to celebrate developmental milestones.
- Be the best advocate of autism that you can be. Stay informed on all of the latest news, education, treatment, and services in your community. Visit our website frequently to stay in touch with the ongoing developments and support within the growing autism community.
Above all, remember that contact with other parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder will decrease feelings of isolation, improve your mood and overall outlook, and increase understanding and acceptance of autism. Both you and your child deserve nothing but the best and the autism community has welcoming arms.
About ASDF: ASDF is a charity that supports children with autism spectrum disorders by providing education, information, and financial assistance to their families and relevant community service organizations. Funds donated to ASDF are used to address any and all kinds of issues in assisting children with autism and their families.
Visit www.myasdf.org, email [email protected], or call 877.806.0635 for more information and to see how you can help.