10 Healthy Reminders for Parents Raising Children With Autism

mickey1. I am not a God, or a superhero, I am a person who has a child with a disability. When it comes to helping my child, I can only do what is possible within the constraints of my pocketbook, my mental health and the well being of my family AS A WHOLE. When I help myself, I help my child. I need to remember that asking for help or comfort helps keep me strong and grounded. When I am strong and grounded I am a better advocate for my child.

2. My life, my dreams did not end when my child was diagnosed. Suffering isn’t love and that which doesn’t kill you doesn’t always make you stronger, sometimes you just die slower. Remember you matter, and learning to make sushi rolls or finally taking that trip to Paris might seem to pale in comparison to the weighty responsibilities at home, but when you let your dreams die, even the little ones, you shut off your most powerful tool as a parent dealing with autism – your imagination.

3. I cannot measure sorrow. Everyone has their own cross to bear and if you keep dragging yours around with you, your social calendar will soon be empty. No one wants a Debbie Downer in their midst and if you cloak yourself in grief and pain you send a signal to the universe that reads as easily as a neon “Eat at Joe’s” sign. If you don’t want to draw pain and loneliness to yourself, remain open to others.

4. Listening to my friends’ problems is still important. The mundane aches and pains of those in your circle of trust should matter. Friendship is important and must be nurtured, sometimes yours isn’t the only boat that needs bailing.

5. I will not avoid being the hammer. You matter, and your darling child, autism or not, doesn’t need pity or a soft touch all the time, sometimes an hour’s worth of listening to them screaming in defense of your boundaries or your rules is exactly what is called for.  Take a tip from my man, Kinky Friedman, “You’ve got to draw the line somewhere with people or you’ll cease to exist.” 

6. I will not be the only one who knows how to care for my child. This is a tough one, but it can be done. Find a friend, a trusted college student who needs the money or the life experience (can you say speech therapist?) or look into respite care. You need a break on a regular basis so you can refresh your batteries, go on a date, have sex, get a pedicure, or just pay your late fees at Blockbuster. Doing normal things helps you feel normal and keeps your feet on the ground.

7.I will not spend all my free time reading, venting or *cough* blogging about autism – that is a recipe for crazy making. Move your body, pet your dog. Make a macaroni necklace. Learn how to say dirty words in sign language, do something far far away and removed from spectrum living.

8.  I will be gentle with myself and not judge myself too harshly. Sometimes along the path of life you can, as they say here in the South, drop your basket. If that happens know that falling isn’t failing and that therapists aren’t just there for your kids. (Shout out to Dr. Elaine!) If you need some time on the couch, take it. There’s nothing as freeing as talking to someone who is paid to listen to you and can’t, by law, tell anyone what you said.

9. I will get help for myself even if I am scared. “Better living through chemistry” doesn’t have to become your life’s motto, but anti-depressants can be just what you need when that boulder in the road has you stumped. Drugs won’t move the boulder out of the way mind you, but they might just help you navigate around it.

10. I will find some daily joy. Squeeze the gratitude out of every day, even if you have to bang it on the kitchen counter and make it cry for it’s mama. And if all you can come up with is “the day is finally over,” you have still found your nugget of joy. Gratitude is kind of magical, when put into practice your capacity for grace multiplies.

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3 Comments

  1. Susie-Q said,

    May 18, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    You don’t know how I needed to hear this today! Keep writing!

    • trudyboom said,

      May 20, 2009 at 8:29 pm

      Glad I could bring you a smile!!! I am enjoying my writing here more than anywhere i ever got paid!!!

  2. Bethany Allen said,

    March 11, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    I really, really needed to read your “10 Healthy Reminders”! Thanks so much for putting that out there!


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