The effects and strain that come with having a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder can be overwhelming and exhausting for parents. This added demand on the family often requires more intensive intervention, however it can be helpful for parents to go over some steps they can take immediately to alleviate some of these difficulties.
Here are 5 steps you can take right now to help your family dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorder:
1. Make personal time for yourself.
It may feel inappropriate and selfish at first, but you can’t take care of other people effectively until your own needs are met. Even if it’s just an hour or two a week, take time to walk with a friend, see a movie, or get a massage. Use this time to focus on yourself and have some fun, rather than focusing on the struggles of your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This will provide you with renewed energy to bring to your home life and to your work.
2. Consult with a therapist.
The emotional burden of what your family is going through takes a toll, and it’s crucial to deal with it in a healthy way. A skilled therapist can give you the tools you need to make sense of, and make peace with, your child’s struggle with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
This type of outlet can also be extremely valuable for any siblings of your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The stresses they face will be different from yours, and having a professional to speak to can provide guidance for healthy emotional processing.
3. Consider marriage counseling.
Maintaining a loving, peaceful household is one of the most meaningful things that a parent can do. Taking the time to reconnect with your spouse – your partner through this challenge – is incredibly rewarding and productive. When trying to manage a household with a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it is easy for each member of the family to feel isolated. Everyone processes this kind of adversity differently.
Getting help to communicate effectively and lovingly, and to try and nurture each other, not just your child(ren), can make a dramatic difference in quality of life for you and your spouse. Love and support are resources that multiply, rather than divide, when shared.
4. Make time for your other children.
Your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder is likely the center of attention within your family, and at the forefront of your thoughts and actions. Try and make time for your other children; once a month, plan a one on one activity or day trip that is all about them. Your children know how much you love them, but they need to feel like the most important person in the room once in a while.
Taking the time to focus on the siblings of your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder is incredibly positive for their self esteem and well-being.
5. Make sure that you are seeking appropriate care for your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
It’s right there in the name; autism is a spectrum, and every child with Autism Spectrum Disorder has different needs. There are a number of therapies and interventions that are highly effective for the needs of individuals with ASD; speak to a specialist and consider all the options, up to and including residential treatment. Intervening as early as possible, in the most appropriate way, will make a huge difference in the progress your child makes.
Once parents living with Autism Spectrum Disorder take an honest inventory of their home life, there are a number of mitigating steps they can take immediately to try and counteract these issues. These steps include consulting with a therapist, making time for other children, considering marriage counseling, seeking appropriate care for the child with ASD, and simply making time for yourself. While diagnoses like Autism Spectrum Disorder can often be overwhelming and taxing, families dealing with these conditions should always remember that they are not alone.
To learn more about how you can help manage the strain that having a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder places on the family, and to learn more about different intervention options for ASD, download our free white paper.