Dear Autism Mom,
You’re tired. You have worked so hard to help your child and it doesn’t seem to be enough. Will it EVER be enough?
You would do just about anything to help her but some days, you don’t know what else you can do and your options seem so limited.
On other days, there may be so many ideas and possibilities that you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.
What works for one child doesn’t work for yours. While you hear or read about a mom who is seeing incredible progress with her child, you might have tried that same thing and it didn’t help yours.
And it’s no wonder why. You pour your heart and soul into your child and truly would do anything you can to help him or her. But the reality is your time, energy, and resources – especially money – are limited and sometimes you have to say “no.”
While you’re saying “no,” there’s a part of you that feels guilty because what if that was THE answer? But your head tells you, you can’t possibly do it all, but your mother heart still aches.
On some days, you might feel like giving up, because it’s so hard.
Your child has probably never thanked you for everything you’ve done for him or her. Your spouse and/or other kids probably don’t either.
Life as an autism mom can feel incredibly discouraging and isolating.
If you’re able to connect with other autism moms, that slight connection – even if it’s only an online group– can make a huge difference. But there still might be some days when you don’t feel like hearing about other moms’ wins because you wonder if it will ever be YOUR child’s turn?!
You so badly need to hear some good news, but it’s often few and far between.
You dread IEP meetings because you know it’s when all your child’s challenges are put in writing and discussed right in front of you.
The specialists and therapists are always telling you more things to try with your daughter, while family members think your son is a “brat” and you just “coddle” him.
You might want to hole up at home and not deal with people but that’s rarely an option.
How did your life turn into THIS? Your child means the world to you, but all those hopes and plans you dreamed of as you held your child as a newborn baby, none of them included this…
Your emotions come in waves. Some days you have more strength to get through and other days, you just want to quit.
But you know quitting isn’t an option, so how do you get through?
Here are a few things to remember when you feel like hope is fading…
#1 You are stronger than you think you are.
You have an inner source of strength in you that empowers you. You’ve already done far more than you ever could have imagined. You ARE strong, even when you feel weak.
#2 You don’t always have to be strong.
You are allowed to cry and punch your pillows out of frustration. Scream into those pillows too! When was the last time you did that? Try it!
#3 Be gentle with yourself.
You’re going through a lot as you help your child. Don’t be mean to yourself. Think about how you would talk to another mom who was struggling like you are. Would you be mean and criticize for not doing more? Of course not! You would speak to her with kind, encouraging words. Do that for yourself.
#4 You’re doing the best you can.
Some days, your best may look different than other days and that’s okay. You’re doing the best you can and that’s all you can do.
#5 You don’t have to do it all.
No one can do EVERYTHING. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, be something to someone.
You are everything to your child, even if you don’t always feel like it. Without you, your child’s world would fall apart. You are so important.
#6 Take care of yourself
Your child needs you to be okay and in order to help him or her, you have to take care of you. At times, it feels impossible to fit one more thing in, but self-care is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your child!
#7 Say “No” More Often
Every time you say ‘yes’, you’re saying “no” to something else.
Ask yourself: what can I do to ease my own burden?
Maybe you can order takeout instead of cooking dinner. You could ask your partner to come home from work early to help out or call your best friend, mom, or sister simply to vent. Put the kids to bed early so you can take a nice hot bath. Forget the dinner dishes or last load of laundry; it can wait.
Try to think of something you can do or NOT do to help yourself out.
#8 Think outside the box.
When you’re in that exhausted survival-mode, think about that thing you wouldn’t do normally and consider it.
Maybe cancel that get-together with the in-laws who don’t understand or respect your child’s diagnosis. Perhaps you might take your child out of school a couple of days sooner because emotionally and mentally, he or she is just DONE.
Think of what you would do if you didn’t have to worry about other people and maybe just do it…
#9 Put blinders on to the outside world.
It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about what others think you and your child. But sometimes you have to just say (pardon my language) “screw you!” and do what YOU need to do. It might not make sense to others, you might some judgmental looks or comments, but forget them.
This is you and your child.
#10 Look at how far your child has come.
Stop thinking about how far he has to go and instead think back to a year ago. Have there been little signs of progress? There usually is. Or go back even further if you need to.
The truth is autism, just like life, has ebbs and flows. There are times when your child will make a lot of progress and then times when she’ll take a few steps backward.
This is NORMAL.
You are amazing and so is your child, whether the world sees it or not.
You’ve got this, dear Autism Mom!
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