It’s hard to be a mom. Whether or not you are employed, you have to care for your children, plan meals, consider nutrition, keep house and so on. Being the mother of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) only makes it harder. The following are some tips for keeping sane while you care for a child who has even more challenges than normal.
Tip One: Be yourself. Resentment, fatigue, even dislike, can build to a fever pitch if you haven’t taken some time for you. Lock yourself in the bathroom if you must. Go for a quick drive or walk around the neighborhood. Do whatever you have to do to get some peace. If you just can’t escape the current meltdown, and your child’s meltdown isn’t going to get better anyway, put on some music that you like or read a chapter in your book. You need to divert your focus away from your child for a short time; it will give you perspective and a moment to calm yourself.
Tip Two: Be Informed. Autism is a spectrum. Find out from your doctor, your local Autism support group or online where on the spectrum your child falls. Some people with autism have actually grown up to be self-sufficient, successful adults. Temple Grandin is a successful woman who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Learn about ways you can support your child and help him to achieve his potential. You will be a more confident mom if you are armed with information.
Tip Three: Be a Friend: Moms often lose themselves in their children, and this can accelerate when the mom has a child with so many needs. Before you feel sorry for yourself for losing the friends you once had before this life-changing event, look outside yourself. Perhaps you will see another mom who seems even more lonely and harried than you are. Make a phone call, send a note (when’s the last time you got a letter in the mail?) or drop by with a chocolate shake. Even a little effort can lift your spirits as well as gain you a friend for life.
Tip Four: Be a Mentor: There is always a family out there who has just received the news that their child has ASD. Offer to supply your phone number or email address to families receiving this diagnosis. They may need a listening ear, or advice from someone who has been there. Helping someone out, even if it is just on the phone, helps you realize that you have value besides being someone’s mom.
Tip Five: Be Accepting: Take a hike in nature. Visit someone in a nursing home. Watch a documentary about a disorder other than Autism. Once you realize that life goes on, whether or not you have accepted your lot, you may find it easier to take. All of us have different trials in life. Of course we’re going to feel sorry for ourselves from time to time. Just open your eyes and pay attention to the life that is happening around you. Autism Spectrum Disorder doesn’t run your life. It is merely an accent to a full one.