Advice for parents doing their best to support their autistic children.
You are doing the best you can.
You are doing your best right now and that is enough. When you feel guilty that you are not doing enough for your child, that you could be doing more, know that all parents have felt just as you do right now. You can always do more later, write out what needs to be achieved in a list and tackle it one point at a time, you have so much going on in your life right now caring for your family and your child(ren) with additional needs, your best right now is enough.
You are not alone.
We are all here waiting for you. Becoming a parent to an autistic child, is wonderful but life presents challenges for child, and as parents we do our best to advocate and support our children. Sometimes we can become isolated and feel like we are the only ones on this journey. Just know that you are not alone, there will always be someone who has walked this road before you. There are thousands parents, just like you, living in Ireland today and around the world. Social media and online support groups are an excellent source of support/advice/friendship online, Facebook is an excellent online window to such groups. Come find us.
You will make mistakes.
Becoming a parent to an autistic child is a steep learning curve. The world was not designed for our children, you will learn a lot along the way. You will make mistakes and that is OK. You are not perfect, no one is. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Life is too short to worry about the should’ve/could’ve/would’ve. We have all made mistakes, forgotten to make appointments, send off all the right forms, forgot to pick up a prescription. Don’t beat yourself up about it, you don’t deserve it.
They think you are incredible, because you are.
When you are at your wits end, locked in the bathroom crying your eyes out exhausted, crying as you drive away from your home after a tough day trying to help your child survive in a world not built for them, know that they think you are their hero. You help them fly high everyday in every way you can. You may feel all you do for them has gone unnoticed by your little ones, but they watch you every day, seeing you struggle, listening to you speak up for them at every turn. They love you with all their little hearts and thank you with every piece of it. You are THEIR HERO.
Be proud of your-self.
Since becoming a parent to an autistic child, you advocate, you provide OT, Physio, Speech Therapy to name but a few. Juggled too many appointments to remember just now, you know more about your child then the professionals you speak to everyday. You have had to make tough medical/life altering decisions for your child so they can have a better life. You do your best to balance your time to give to all of your family. You have a relentless hope for the future, for progress, you are your child’s biggest supporter and are always there for them watching over them, making sure they succeed. You are amazing even if you do not feel it just now. Be proud of what you have achieved and what you do every single day for your child.
Don’t lose YOU.
It is so easy to forget about who you were before you had children, factor in a world that sometimes is not accepting of autistic children, and it is as if you never existed before your child was born. It may be quiet difficult to have minute to yourself, just to focus, regain perspective.
I know personally I do not have any free time where I am not looking after my 3 little ones, two of whom are autistic My “ME TIME” is now blogging & painting. I can still be in the house physically but mentally I am away painting all the colors of the rainbow to make someone smile, writing positive words to help pick someone up on a bad day, it gives me peace & perspective to start afresh the next day. Do what makes you feel like YOU. Whatever it, whatever it takes do it! You deserve this solitary time, it will help you be a better mother & carer.
Forget about Milestones/Comparisons.
When you have children with additional needs, forget about the childhood/life milestones they “should” be achieving. Try not to compare your little one to children of the same age, it will only bring tears. It will keep you looking to the past when you need to look to the future. Look now for “progress“. Progress can take many forms, from the smallest improvement to a life altering change in the right direction. Look for improvements in every area of your child’s life, make small reachable goals. With life milestones I have learned to put aside as much as I can what my boys “should be” doing right now, and instead focus on what they can do and will do in the future. The thoughts of milestones will always flutter through your mind, take a deep breath and let it go and refocus on your child in front of you.
You are the EXPERT.
Doctors & various professionals who will have some input with regard to your child’s diagnosis, have studied and are experts with regard to the assessment of your child’s needs. It ends there. You are your child’s expert. You know your child best, you know if they are unwell, how they feel, what they need. You instinctively know if there is something amiss. You need to speak up and always trust your instinct. Let your voice be heard as you are the only one who can speak up for your child.
Be their voice when they cannot. Trust you, trust your instincts.
Celebrate the small things.
The road you are on, is not an easy one even at the best of times, there will always be moments when you feel like giving up. My advice is celebrate the progress no matter how small you feel it is, celebrate your little one’s progress, as it has taken huge commitment from you and your child to achieve this progress. Sleepless nights, tear stained faces, steadfast routines and consistency have lead you here so celebrate the efforts & progress that has been made.
Know that you matter and what you do everyday for your child is so unbelievably important. If you need support come say hi to me over on my social media.x