5 Ways to Manage Stress While Raising an Autistic Child
Raising a child is never an easy task, yet alone a child with autism. Raising a child that is on the autistic spectrum has its own challenges that many parents find themselves facing without really knowing how to deal with the effects and stress that come along with those obstacles. You love your children and want what is best for them, but sometimes you may feel like you’re not doing everything you can to help them live in a loving environment that allows them to grow to their full potential.
A big part of that doubt comes from within yourself as a parent. You are constantly stressed and overwhelmed by all the things you are doing wrong, rather than taking the time to focus on what you are doing right. COMPASS is here to help you take a step back, breathe, and remind yourself that in order to be the best you can be for your kids, you need to take care of yourself sometimes too!
1. Do not neglect your own needs
Consistently take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally. Since life with autistic children can be stressful and difficult to manage, it’s so important to know how to deal with it constructively. The last thing you want to do is take your frustration out on them; therefore, to take care of their needs you must first take care of your own.
2. Embrace all of your emotions
Don’t be a slave to your emotions. Allowing yourself to feel these emotions can help you grow as a person and a parent because you can use them to cultivate acceptance and compassion. Ignoring your reality can lead to anger, which may come out in a variety of ways and be directed at those closest to you.
3. Make your own decisions
When you’re already having a hard time figuring out how to deal with your child’s needs, advice you didn’t ask for can seem like an unnecessary burden. While in some cases this could be true, it’s important to embrace people that provide you with sound advice, practical feedback, and useful observations. Try to show appreciation for their input, especially if you know it’s coming from the right place. If, however, the advice is redundant, unnecessary, or simply irritating, find a respectful way to distance yourself from the person giving it.
4. Ask for help
As the number of cases of autism grows, many parents across the nation are grappling with the stress of the diagnosis and turning to other families for support. Besides the anxiety and the high demands on parents’ time and energy, autism can also take a heavy toll on family finances and put a big strain on relationships. Reaching out to other families or communities with common obstacles can help you feel more at peace knowing you are not alone.
5. Make time for yourself
Dealing with an autistic child should be part of a parent’s day-to-day, not the sole focus of it, which is extremely important for managing related stress. You have to be able to take a little bit of time, even if it’s a few minutes, to get yourself back to neutral. Exercise, go dancing, join a book club, or catch up on sleep – the happier and rested you are, the better decisions you’ll make for your child and your family.
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