Autism: Who is Your Support

Autism: Who is Your Support?
I know it is important to have someone to talk to, but they just don’t get it. (You are right, they often do not.) When I complain too much, they tend to get irritated. (Yeah, point taken.) Is there really a point in having someone to talk to? I mean, it doesn’t change the situation. (Well, yes. Everyone needs to vent- otherwise you blow up at your kid… how has that been going for you recently?)
I spoke at a support group for parents recently where I heard these reasons for not talking with someone about their frustrations and problems. We all need an outlet- someone to talk with and simply vent to. I encourage people to have someone besides your spouse, as he or she is also living this daily and having that outside support is helpful.

support group
Who is a Support?
Not just anyone can be a support for this type of situation. And yes, this is where it can get tough. You need to find someone that is encouraging yet who will not immediately offer up advice, because often that is not what we need; we simply need someone to listen to us (and take pity!). Here is what I suggest to look for in finding your support:

  • A strong listener
  • A strong supporter
  • Someone available most of the time, or who can make time for you
  • Someone who understands the basics of Autism
  • A friend that knows YOU
  • An encourager of your faith
  • Someone that will not always offer advice unless you ask for it
  • Above all, someone that LOVES your kiddo!

Are you laughing right now as you read through that list? Hopefully you can come up with at least one person that can mostly fit this description.

It took me a while to find someone I can open up to safely (outside of my family). Actually it took me a couple of years. I now have certain friends I can rely on and trust to go to when I need to vent, cry, or relax. These friends know what I need and simply listen. But they also call me out when I am being ridiculous and are not afraid to ask questions. Do they always “get it”? Not always. And at times do I walk away more frustrated? Sure, sometimes. But more often than not, it helps.
Emotional, Spiritual, and Physical Health
Having a support system is important for your overall health. Without it certain failure to your health will inevitably happen. Most often, your mental health will begin to suffer. So often I see parents coming in with severe depression and high anxiety. One of the first things I ask them is, “Who is your support system?” They often give me a blank stare. As time goes on, their physical health suffers with high blood pressure and stress, which leads to heart problems, headaches, etc. I will then ask them, “When was the last time you went to the doctor for yourself?” Again the blank stare. Then the killer… “When was the last time you did someone for yourself, such as a trip or spa?” By now they often laugh or cry.

When was the Last Time you did something for YOURSELF?
Parents, you need a break! You need a support! Ladies and Gentlemen, I am preaching to myself here as I write this. I cannot remember the last time I went on a date with my husband. Though I will admit, I did get my hair done about a month ago (such a pleasure!).
And yes, you can do things that cost little or no money. And see, this is where your lovely support comes in! Get him/her to babysit (if you need one), then go back home and sleep, watch a movie, read a book, etc. Just do not clean the house or pay bills.

Final Thoughts
Maybe you are to the point where your kids are gone and you are able to be a support to someone. GREAT! Do it! Find a parent support group or someone in your church that needs to be supported.
If you are struggling and have nobody to help you out, I encourage you to find a parent support group; most are free. Or ask your child’s special education teachers; they may know of some resources.
Keep pushing forward and stay strong. If you have thoughts or questions, email or contact me!
Jen Edwards