If you are raising a child on the autism spectrum, you know that not every day will be The Best Day. In fact, some days can feel pretty awful, and for a variety of reasons. Some days you might wonder if you can understand your child, other days you wonder if you can understand the school who just removed your child’s IEP. And then there are the missed invitations to parties, the social slights, and then choices you are required to make as a parent. Yep, some days are just harder than others. Here are some ideas about how to handle the harder days.
- Identify the source of the stress Some days it just all seems to be “too much!” It is helpful to be able to pinpoint the source of the distress: general stress, crowded schedule, specific comments from others, academic distress. If you can identify the source of the stress, you can start to craft a solution.
- Deal with the feelings There are times when it is imperative to actually deal with feelings prior to starting to craft a list of solutions. I certainly have instances where I’ve said, “The feedback is accurate, but the way it was said hurt my feelings.” Are your feelings hurt because of a social slight, a misunderstanding, a series of “misunderstandings,” or maybe because you are just hungry right now? Deal with the feelings, then make a plan.
- Find your allies Some days are stressful. We all have them. Who can hear your concerns, provide empathy and support, and wipe your tears? Who can hear your anger and disappointment and then point you in the right direction?
- Find solutions What will help reduce the stress and move the situation forward? Do you need an educational advocate, a therapist for your child, structured playdates, or someone to just understand your situation? Make a list of many solutions, and put some into action.
- Reward yourself Parenting is hard. Not every day will feel like a win. Break parenting down into small steps, and offer yourself a reward as you progress through the day, and more rewards for those harder day. Kids out of bed? Check! Lunches mostly healthy and in the backpack? Check! Made it through an IEP meeting without burning bridges? Check, check, wine!
Not every day is a win. Sometimes stress creeps up on us, and sometimes it kicks our feet out from under us. Contain the stress, cope, and when you are ready, learn the lessons life attempts to hand us.