I am a Parent of a Child with Autism, and I am STRESSED!
Any parent of any kid is stressed. You wake up early, get them going for school while you get yourself ready for work. Then you run them around to sports and doctor appointments after school. Finally you come home and get dinner going while you juggle homework and chores. You finally collapse into bed after they are asleep and start over again in the morning.
Having a kid on the spectrum you never know how your days are going to go. You keep your phone nearby in anticipation of the school calling you because of a meltdown and you need to go pick up your child. You get emails from all the different teachers and support staff on a daily basis and you take a deep breath before you open it because likely it is not good news. It is like you wait for the bomb to drop all the time.
Then you have all the therapy sessions and doctor appointments. You do not get to go to sporting events and practices; you go to therapy, where the therapists purposefully put your child into meltdown mode on occasion to help them process how to get through the meltdown. Lovely. Nothing gets accomplished after those sessions.
And if you get assistance from the government, you fight them constantly to keep services such as health insurance and SSI. Your case workers do not call you back and you sit in the government offices for hours waiting to talk to someone who has no idea who you are or how to help you. It is a frustrating process but a necessary one.
The Stress is just TOO MUCH!
Ever feel like the stress is simply too much? You just want to go away and hide? You are not alone my dear friends!
If you read my previous post, you know the stress has been high for us recently. We are in the midst of lots of meltdowns and behavior issues with our son and it is stressful. There are so many people involved in his life that it can get overwhelming to us with who is doing what with him. It is almost like there are too many people in the picture! But all are necessary.
And of course stress at home causes stress on our son. He can pick up on our stress. So when our car breaks down, and the bills pile up, and then the cell phone breaks all in the same week, our stress gets high. Even though we try our best to hide the stress, he picks up on it. Because he cannot process stress and then cannot handle it, he in turns acts out with his behavior and it can cause meltdowns. It is a vicious cycle.
How can I Handle the Stress?
Easier said than done. But here are a few thoughts and ideas.
- · Process anything that you can with your child. Explain what stress is and explain things that are going on so they understand. Do not hide things from them, be open and honest. Just use appropriate words for their age and processing ability.
- · Take time for yourself. Have dates with your spouse. Have time alone for you. You will probably need to plan ahead for this, but it is important to do!
- · Do your best to prepare them for any change that is coming. For example, if it is threatening to show, I always tell my son the day before.
- · Find that trusting person you can talk to. It can be a good friend, family member, or counselor. A spouse is great too, but having someone not emotionally involved is important too!
- · Take your deep breaths during the meltdowns and challenging moments. Tag-team with your spouse (if possible) and give each other breaks. Support each other during this time and then discuss afterwards what could have been done differently and/or better.
- · Drink ice-cold water when you feel stressed- it really helps! Get exercise, take a walk. Do yoga or something calming.
· Above all, do something healthy to relieve stress. Drinking excessive alcohol and using drugs is not the best option to help relieve stress. In the long run it will make things worse.
Stress is not easy to process through. It can stay with you for days and weeks. It can build up and eventually burst; causing problems that can be serious. When you need help, get help!!
Having a kid on the spectrum, or any special need, is a challenge. I commend you for fighting through it and doing your best! Take time for yourself, stay calm, and get the help you need. Any parent needs help raising a child. Raising a special needs child is going to take extra help. Getting help does not mean you are not an adequate parent, it means you are helping your child.
Let me know if you need help with your own emotional needs. Many of my clients are children with special needs, but often the parents come in on their own and have their own sessions too!
Keep up the great work!