Parenting a child with autism comes with the longest to-do list in the history of forever. There are IEPs and educational issues, behavioral issues, health issues, diet, sleep and it goes on and on and on and on (and on).
I've spent almost my entire career in credit unions, most recently producing financial education content. One day, while reviewing an article about strategies to get out of debt, it hit me: autism is kind of like being buried in debt.
It's overwhelming, exhausting, depressing and you don't even know where to begin.
Which is why financial management guru Dave Ramsey can offer the perfect advice to autism parents. When it comes to tackling your child's laundry list of challenges, treat it like debt and use Dave's Snowball Method.
If you're not familiar with Dave Ramsey, here's how it works: tackle the easiest thing first, so you gain a feeling of accomplishment. Plus, with every problem solved you gain more time and energy.
Without realizing it, I've applied the Snowball Method to managing Tosh's autism.
Not long after his diagnosis, the first thing I took on was removing Red40 food dye from his diet. If you're not familiar with Red40 and how it can affect kids with autism, read this blog post about how he used to beat his head against the floor until I figured out it was Red40. Thankfully, it was pretty easy to remove foods with Red40 from his diet and find dye-free replacements.
It was the first time I felt like I maybe could handle this autism parenting thing after all. Not only did I feel more confident, I had eliminated a self-injuring behavior trigger. If your child doesn't engage in SIBs, consider yourself lucky, because that is some extremely traumatic shit for a parent.
Next up was sleep. It took about a year to figure that one out, but cracking the sleep code was one of the most satisfying things I've ever accomplished. I had taken my autism parenting to a new level, and most importantly, I was no longer sleep deprived!
Had I not started with these two things, I never would have had the confidence or energy to take on a gluten free and dairy free diet, experiment with his educational setting, begin biomedical testing and treatments, and go all-in on his AAC device and Proloquo2Go.
Like eliminating debt, focusing on just one autism challenge at a time adds up. The Snowball Method works!
Heather Anderson is a blissfully happy autism mom and lover of life in Southern California who is on a mission to help autism parents rediscover their happy place.
Please join me on this beautiful autism journey. The Autism Oasis is a fun, supportive and educational community where your personal development is just as important as your children's. You are more than just a caregiver!