Every parent that raises a special needs child is constantly reminded to use “self-care”. Yes, it is highly important to find time for yourself so that you can be the best parent you possibly can. However, all parents also know, that is much easier said than done. Hopefully, these tips will give you a few realistic ways to make sure you are taking care of yourself.
Simplify Communication: Regular communication and collaboration with teachers, therapists, and other professionals can ensure consistent support for your teenager. However, juggling all of these professionals and their emails, calls, texts, etc. can be draining and exhausting. The easiest way to maintain it all is to create a specific email address just for your child’s professional communications. Send everything to this one specific email address and you won’t risk losing an important email in your regular inbox. Then, schedule specific days and times to check your email. This way you don’t have to worry about checking it daily and you are still being consistent!
Connect with Support Groups: It’s easy to say reach out to online and local support groups. But how do you find them in your area that you’ll actually go to? Approaching people, in general, can be scary or anxiety-inducing for people. And sometimes internet groups don’t feel personal enough. One suggestion is to go through a service provider. For example, if your child has ABA services, ask your provider if they either know of groups or ask if they would consider hosting a group. This would make it easier for you to talk to parents of other children that already receive similar services. Another suggestion, start a regularly scheduled event with family and friends. Often times people find it hard to call people when they need support because they don’t want to be viewed as someone who complains often or doesn’t want to be avoided by people they reach out to for support. This allows you to talk with people regularly, to both have fun and talk about things if you need to. Plus, it helps you destress and enjoy your circle of family and friends. Which leads to …
Take Care of Yourself: Parenting a child diagnosed with Autism can be demanding, so make sure you take care of your physical and emotional well-being. See if respite services are available, or schedule events with your support circle. If you can schedule a regular appointment for your child, you can do it for yourself. IT’S NOT SELFISH! You have to make sure you’re okay, so you can be okay for others. Keeping these appointments can help create memories and traditions you need to hold onto when times get stressful, and you need to do something positive to look forward to doing.
Encourage Independence: Lastly, making sure you focus on your child developing their own independence is scary and create anxiety. But if you don’t start when your child is young, this anxiety will get worse as they grow into becoming an adult and will result in them relying on YOU more and more. By giving your child age-appropriate responsibilities and encouraging them to make choices, you gradually teach them life skills that will help them become a more self-sufficient and independent adult. This will help you and your child have both a better relationship in the future and more future possibilities in your lives.
Following these tips may not seem easy, but they will help increase the probability of you having a less anxiety-filled life and a better relationship with your child.