Caring for Caregivers
Autism is a condition which affects every family member of the person on the autism spectrum disorder. Often a diagnosis of Autism is associated with a strong emotional reaction from the parents and family members. The rigors of raising a child on the spectrum to fulfilling adulthood are daunting for a very good reason “As autism affects every aspect of life”. It is very important that the parents and the family members are emotionally prepared to accept the diagnosis and to carry their child through this "special" journey.
What are the emotional and psychological effects that parents of children with autism go through?
Parents and siblings could go through physical, emotional and mental stress which could lead to feeling tired throughout the day, increased bouts or irritability and anger, disturbed sleep pattern and loss or excessive appetite. This could also lead to not being able to provide proper care and support towards the child and other family members.
What are the strategies that one could use have a balanced state of mind?
Below listed are a few strategies that could help promote and attain a positive state of mind:
Family Counseling: Family counseling session could prove to be very helpful as it helps the entire family to understand the needs of a special child and cope with the changes in lifestyle. It also brings the family together and work as one unit. A trained family counselor would do help you and your family with the transition after the diagnosis.
Talk Therapy: It is very important that you talk about your feelings and emotions that you are going through. It is important to vent out your thoughts at regular interval of time. Especially someone who just listens could be a great source of strength.
Take help of a professional: If you feel that you are unable to cope up with things around and your stress or anxiety levels have increased or you are starting to show depressive symptoms (like crying spells, change in sleep or appetite, loss of interest, etc) seek help of a professional. Counseling session for you or your spouse or the entire family may help.
Join support groups: You could join support groups which are for children with autism and their parents. It may be helpful to listen or talk to people who have been or are going through a similar situation. Also, support groups could be a great source of information about the services available in your area or about the new possible treatment options available. For many parents being associated to a support group could provide valuable hope, comfort and encouragement.
"Remember that if you want to take the best possible care of your child, you must first take the best possible care of yourself".