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Caring for Yourself When Your Child has Autism

A child’s diagnosis with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is rarely a complete surprise. It is a parent’s unease, after all, which usually leads to appointments with experts and a formal diagnosis.

You’d think that would lessen the impact of hearing someone official declare that your child has an ASD…but it rarely does. Something about that official declaration makes it all real, dashing faint hopes that your suspicions about your child were wrong. It is natural to feel grief, denial, anger, despair, and fear –all at once, and by turns. Relief may be mixed in, if you have been fighting to get someone to acknowledge that something is wrong, and have been unable to get needed services until they do.

Whatever the case, you have to find a way to care for yourself during this time. Your child’s needs seem urgent, and the tendency is to try to get every intervention in place, running until you drop. Ultimately, however, that just leads to a parent with a nervous breakdown --something that will definitely not help your child.

Alternate having “time off” with your partner, or find someone –anyone—who can hold down the fort a couple of hours at a time. Turn to old sources of support –whether your friendships, your family, your religious institution, or your therapist —and seek new ones if the old ones are simply not enough. Support groups for parents of children with ASDs can be very helpful, especially during this “newly diagnosed” period.

Whatever you are doing on behalf of your child, make sure you also give yourself time to find your balance again. You will need your strength to fight the good fight for your child and your family.


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