Caring for Your ASD Child, Caring for Yourself: 7 Tips Recommended by the Autism Community

If your child recently received an ASD diagnosis, these suggestions can smooth the transition for you as the caregiver.

Let’s be honest: learning that your child has a neurological condition is a very hard pill to swallow. No matter where your child lands on the autism spectrum, there is no map for raising him or her, simply because each presentation is unique. For parents in this position, there is a new level of uncertainty and stress that goes beyond the already challenging task of childrearing.

That is not to say that kids with this condition cannot go on to lead incredible lives. Temple Grandin, the autism advocate and inventor said that she wouldn’t give up her life for “normal,” that her condition enabled her to think about things differently, to solve problems creatively. She also said that her mother was an extraordinary caregiver who did not give up.1

It is so crucial that these families get the support and the information they need early on in the diagnosis because it can make a tremendous difference as to how their child progresses. It’s also just as important that the caregivers have support, so below is a collection of actions, suggestions and tips recommended by autism experts to aid adults responsible for children with ASD.

  1. Find local organizations in your town where you can talk and listen to other families coping with ASD. Connecting is a great way to keep an influx of ideas coming your way, and offers you a little solidarity and comfort when the bad days happen.

 

  1. Talk to a Professional. Thankfully, there is much more awareness about ASD out there, and many HMOs also have counselors, social workers or therapists who are trained to help families manage. A competent counselor can help you deal with the feelings that come up around diagnosis, and strategize for the immediate and the long term.

 

  1. When you research, run that information by your doctor. Always seek information through reputable sources since not everything on the Internet is necessarily accurate. This is especially important when considering experimental treatments.

 

  1. Take your own healthy self-care just as seriously. That goes double for parents of severe cases whose sleeping and eating patterns can easily become unstable. When someone we love needs a high level of care, it’s very easy to neglect our own needs – but that can ultimately affect our patience, and our mental and physical health. Find ways to build exercise into your routine with a stroller or bike trailer. There is no shame in getting a sitter so you can take a nap.

 

  1. Find Special Needs Sitters. Because of the recent attention ASD is receiving, there are many licensed organizations that have vetted, registered care workers who can help take the load off. Easter Seals has some great recommendations for finding help. http://www.easterseals.com/.

 

  1. Outsource everything you don’t have to do yourself. TaskRabbit is your friend. Don’t wear yourself out cleaning and cooking when you could be spending time with your child. Your whole approach to housekeeping is going to change, so don’t take on big projects yourself. For things like locking doors and windows, gates and other safety measures, get a handyman.

 

  1. Experiment with no expectations. Well-meaning friends may give you advice you can’t use. Just because something worked once, doesn’t mean it will continue to work. Flexibility and a wait-and-see attitude about your child’s treatment will provide a buffer. There will be disappointments and miraculous, unexpected triumphs.

 

Parents with ASD children report that they unearthed creativity and perseverance they didn’t know they had. Amid intense frustration and exhaustion, there will be moments of hilarity and beauty that catch your whole family by surprise. For more information on living with ASD, visit the following websites:

 

Tips for parents:

 

On finding caregivers:

 

 

 

References:

  1. http://www.pbs.org/pov/neurotypical/

Leave a Reply