When your child is officially diagnosed with autism, you feel a lot of emotions.
You might feel relieved that you finally have a name for your child's lack of development.
You might even feel a bit vindicated that you were right and all those doctors and relatives who told you it wasn't autism were wrong.
But then the grief sets in.
There are many emotions that come with an autism diagnosis, but most of all, there is grief.
So much grief.
You refuse to accept that grief. You refuse to accept that your child will spend a lifetime suffering from a disorder that allegedly has no known cause.
Because of course autism has a cause. If it didn't, the rate wouldn't be increasing at an epidemic rate. This is more than bad luck, more than losing the genetic lotto.
This is fucking bullshit.
So you begin searching for a cure.
It's so alluring, that cure. Especially when your child has severe autism and suffers from chronic pain,...
Kids with autism need a lot of support and we give it to them. Behavioral therapy, speech therapy, OT, IEPs, special diets, sensory rooms, consistent routines ... we do so much for our children.
This autism parenting gig isn't easy, which means we also need more support than other parents.
We don't provide it for ourselves.
To be a happy, healthy and effective autism parent, you MUST put the right supports into place. A helpful spouse, helpful family and respite care are the most common support systems, but many parents don't have those things. Maybe you're a single mom like me with no family nearby. Or maybe you live in a state that doesn't offer respite care.
Here are three other things I do for myself that make my caregiving more efficient and effective so I can focus on my business, our health, Tosh's education and our happiness.
1. Molly Maid
I often say I'd give up my phone before I gave up my regularly house cleaning service, and I'm only half kidding about that. It took...
"It's too bad some parents are too lazy to discipline their kids!"
Oh, those rude, ignorant comments you get from strangers when you take your autistic child out in public. We've all been there.
Whether your tendency is to react with anger, embarrassment or tears, who wouldn't like to get to a place where those comments don't bother you one bit?
I've got a two-step process that can help you achieve that. It requires a healthy dose of empathy and the willingness to do a little deep diving into some painful experiences in your past, but the results are totally worth it.
1. Realize that rude comments have nothing to do with you.
What comes out of peoples' mouths (yours included) is a reflection of how they feel about themselves on the inside. Judgmental people are telling the world they have a million faults. Intolerant people are telling the world how much they hate themselves. Sarcastic people or those who say something mean followed by, "just kidding," are telling the...
I'm a member of a special needs parenting group on Facebook, and last week another parent posted something that was so relatable.
She wrote that while she normally just scrolls past and ignores posts by parents of neurotypical kids, bragging about their achievements, there seem to be more of them lately. All the dance recitals, awards and other accomplishments and milestones made her want to scream for them to shut up already, and appreciate how lucky they are.
The response from the group was overwhelmingly supportive because we've all been there, right? Especially in the beginning. I remember back when Tosh was a toddler, and I'd see all the cute little Facebook videos of first words, the happy birthday song, preschool holiday programs and the comedy of three-year-olds playing soccer.
Tosh couldn't do any of that then, and still can't do most of it now.
Back it what I call my dark days, when he was about four years old, just one video of a toddler saying something cute was...
I don’t know about your family, but this has been a tough year for us so far when it comes to health. Both Tosh and I rarely get sick, but so far this year we’ve had a hard time shaking a flu bug that gave us bad coughs plus some stomach cramps and vomiting. As they say, it’s going around.
We know a lot about the immune system when it comes to fighting colds and flu, but did you know scientists believe our brains have an immune defense system that fights our attempts to make positive changes in our lives?
According to Harvard researchers Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, our mental immune system fights to maintain our status quo. Like everything else that holds us back, the push for consistent behavior is a key part of our evolution. Our daily routines keep us fed, sheltered and safe.
However, even when patients suffer a heart attack and are told that if they don’t quit smoking or lose weight, they’re going to die, they struggle to make those changes....
About three years ago I was in a pretty dark place.
I was feeling down and defeated. Autism was kicking my ass. Being a single mom was kicking my ass. My job was kicking my ass. Life was kicking my ass.
So naturally, I turned to my boyfriend for support and encouragement.
He did not respond as I had hoped.
"You know what your real problem is? You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something about it," he said.
Wrong answer. His insensitive reply prompted me to unleash a tirade of f-bombs so brutal that we didn't speak for a couple of days.
But during that time, I thought long and hard about what happened, because he wasn't your average dude who didn't have a clue about what it's like to raise a special needs child.
He had his own special needs child with spectrum issues, an intellectual disability and health issues. His son is verbal, but overall, he probably has more challenges than Tosh does. Yet at the time, his son was attending college - COLLEGE! - at a school across...