In our family we use different strategies to help our children on the spectrum with coping skills.
I looked at some of the coping skills we use for Declan in this post, 3 Incredible Calming Tricks for Autism. Declan is young and still makes the occasional wrong choice. He goes to time out, which can be very stressful. I spoke about some calming tools we use for time outs in this post: 10 Tips for the Autism Time Out.
I got to thinking about parents and caregivers, too. We work very hard to keep our loved ones comfortable, safe and happy. How do we recharge? What do we do for ourselves to help ourselves out?
So I hopped aboard the research train.
I should point out, of course, that I know what I do. I enjoy long distance running, reading, writing. Also, meeting up with friends to talk with and who give me support when I need it. I think the kids are doing great with the therapies and supports that we have been able to secure for them.
So, was I missing anything?
The first article I found solidified one piece of information: Researchers who studied familial stress found that parents and caregivers of individuals with ASD are at an increased risk of having higher stress levels than parents of typically developing children.
I have my Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and have worked in many therapeutic and counseling positions. I provided information and strategies to families that were facing mental illness and helped them gain access to resources. All I can say is, I HAD NO IDEA.
Raising a child with autism is far beyond anything I had ever realized or prepared anyone else for. I simply had no idea. The demands are 24/7. Something as small as a lost toy can be so upsetting to Declan, that I know I cannot shower, I cannot eat, no one will sleep that night and I will have to watch the door as he will be so upset he may run out.
I have two older children that developed more typically. That was the first thing the Doctor pointed out to me she suggested an evaluation. All she said was, “Did you have to do any of the things you do for Declan for your older two children?” I knew right away I hadn’t, and that maybe I should reach out for help.
I followed the research to another trail, and found this article which pointed out coping strategies I realize I use as well: Cognitive Reframing and Passive Appraisal.
Cognitive Reframing: By changing the frame your picture is in, you will look at it in a different way. Something is only horrible if you look at it horribly. If you reframe the situation to be positive, then you will see positive in the situation.
Passive Appraisal: Accepting and minimizing your reaction to problematic issues. “It’s not that bad. Things could be a lot worse.”
What else can I DO?
The National Rehabilitation Information Center offered the following information to help parents cope. The ideas that they offer are to:
- Become an expert on your child’s disability
- Locate and access resources to help your child
- Communicate with family how you are feeling
- Communicate with other families facing similar issues
- Join a support group
- Stick to a daily routine
- Take care of yourself
My children are blessings. I am thankful they are here for me and I am here for them. We are very happy and have a lot of really great days.
We do have hiccups or bad moments. At those times, as a parent I feel like I am failing my kids and that I have no idea what I am doing. In a sense, I am making things worse.
I implement a lot of coping techniques listed to help me through my own mental blocks. A bad moment is a bad moment, and I know things will get better.
Stuart Duncan said, “Autism is neither a gift or a curse.” Moments can be exceptionally hard. Some moments last for days and a parent or caregiver can feel A LOT of stress. Finding ways to help ourselves cope helps us to regain our sense of self and to be able to continue to help our special people shine.
What are some coping skills you implement? Let me know!
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