I am involved in a support group on Facebook and I often see the horrifying messages that make me wince with sadness and my heart aching with pain after I’ve read them. Although there are those beautiful success stories, the most common thing I come across are Mom’s of all ages and stages, colors and cultures who are all facing the SAME struggle. Their plea for help. Their desperation for progress. And they all actually believe they are “failing.” Thats the part that really has my heart throbbing.
I’m here to say, that if you are trying, then you are not failing. One of my favorite things about being a Christian Autism Mom is that I am able to wake up everyday KNOWING that I will be forgiven for my mistakes as a parent because my heart is pure. I love unconditionally. I live each day trying my absolute hardest. I’ve struggled with depression before becoming a mother so you could only imagine how it was to be pregnant and single. The anxiety sky rocketed since becoming an autism momma bear. (I wouldn’t change him for the WORLD).
Anxiety crept up like the devil ready to devour. Things most parents don’t have to go through half as much or with as much intensity as we do like going to the store, going to a friends house with all neurotypical children and adults who have never dealt with autism, family birthday parties, Disneyland and most of all my favorite, restaurants. It became hell for me and I’m sure it was for my son too. Trapped in our own bodies unable to deal. I was putting so much energy into trying to keep my son calm or lower his voice or to NOT bang his head, hand or knock things over; he’s also a RUNNER. (Gotta love him L.O.L)
But even on those days where I didn’t eat, and watched Netflix for most of the day to escape the outside world and only got out of my bed just to feed, bathe and do at least 1 type of outside or learning activity with my son, I was TRYING MY BEST! I Didn’t look at it that way at the time, but with time and upward growth and honestly, full disclosure; one on one therapy. I do now. There’s a lot of factors that have put me in depression. Single mom, Autsim itself, relationship issues, worrying about how I will pay my bills, therapy/insurances, figuring out how to balance my life, trying to finish school, trying not to be stuck in a hole and worrying about if I’ll ever have success. Worrying about how others will treat my son, worried about his academia, worried if he’ll ever play sports, worried if he’ll ever speak in full sentences…These are all things we deal with among more.
Mental health is crucial. Physical health compliments your mental state. So get up, and get out. No one said to abandon Netflix or Hulu or Prime, just multitask. Watch that season 1,2 and 3 as you work out, do the dishes, wash clothes etc. (;
Here are my 7 ideals to help guide you Mama’s in a healthy direction.
1. Accept – FORGIVE yourself & everyone else. It’s no one’s fault your child has Autism. Accept that your child processes things differently. Get on board.
2. Research – Educate yourself! Learn about autism, learn about ABA, learn to play and engage with your child in whatever way calms them. Read about it. The internet is an amazing tool and sometimes we have to dig for the answers to specific things (adaptation), but it’s SO worth it!
3. Adapt -changing your environmental arrangements in the home and even at families homes if possible and overall doing things differently for a more smooth ride. (Make a busy book for your car, sensory diets etc.)
4. Advocate – fight for your children and yourself! Your children have rights and so do you. Make sure those IEP’s are being held to those standards, make sure the ABA providers are doing their job and not wasting time or inappropriately implementing therapy. Set a fire under those insurance companies butts, appeal everything! If you believe in something never stop.
5. Spread Awareness – with LOVE.
Ahhhhh… #5 is SO HARD.
Being nice to the people who stair at you, and even worse, YOUR CHILD, like you both are disgusting and don’t belong is probably our greatest struggle in life. But after you walk away from simply stating “my son/daughter has Autism and is overstimulated right now” with a smile and loving eyes, YOU feel better. DON’T apologize. Just let them know. And the more you tell people with a smile (while ignoring the behavior you DO NOT want to reinforce, and praising those 4 second appropriate behaviors) keep smiling, keep shopping, KEEP LIVING. It starts to feel good. Each time you say it out loud you begin to gain just a little more confidence.
6. Get up and out! – exercise and get out of your house! Take your children out. Children get depressed too. A park is probably the best way to give your kiddo some freedom and get your dose of vitamin D. Get those endorphins flowing, get some social interaction. It’s Healing for the mind, body and soul.
7. PRAY – pray to whatever higher power you believe in. Pray for your child well-being, their growth, there capabilities, pray for your strength, pray for your sanity, pray for wisdom, pray for everything.
– From one Autism Momma Bear to another..