￼Starting a family and having a baby is a beautiful challenge. It provides you a new perspective on life, and reasons why you wake up every day. However, no matter how beautiful, it is also a big undertaking. Without reserve, being a parent is no easy feat.
For involved parents of an autistic child, autism can undoubtedly put a toll on a marriage; therefore, it is essential that couples are aware of how to rebuild and strengthen their bond while efficiently taking care of their child with autism.
Even without the existence of autism within the family, divorce has already been rampant in the United States with statistics revealing that around 50% of couples discontinue their marriages, the American Psychological Association cited. According to Jennifer Baxt, LMFT, LMHC, “Divorce is not something that should never be entered into lightly. It means an end to that relationship and the breakup of a family, which can be greatly traumatizing to the children of that marriage.”
Modern-day parents currently have more access to educational materials that can help them in widening the scope of knowledge about autism as a pediatric condition. Also, parents can easily seek the help of medical professionals who can provide insight and techniques on how to take care of an autistic child. All these, while keeping the marriage as steady as possible, can be quite challenging for couples.
Ways Of Maintaining Marriages
Don’t let your marriage become another divorce statistic. As committed couples and responsible parents, there are minor changes that you can incorporate into your daily routines that can help focus on your relationship and your family significantly.
Consider Each Other As Teammates
“Often, kids, teens and adults on the spectrum spend a lot of time trying to be “normal”, fighting sensory overload and overwhelm, fending off personal quirks, and trying so hard to “fit in”,socially and otherwise.” Karla Helbert, LPC, E-RYT, C-IAYT said. Therefore, when taking care of children with autism disorder, it is essential to keep in mind that it’s not a one-man or one-woman army; both couples have to be invested in making sure that their children are appropriately managed. After all, parents are also partners.
Both parents have significant roles in attending to their child’s needs. Neglecting to be part of the care process for your kid and just allowing your partner to carry all the weight can consequently reflect on your marriage. Sharing the load of being a caregiver while providing encouragement can strengthen the relationship, taking couples far in their union.
Fight About It
Arguments within a relationship are typical and also considered healthy. Without discord, there can be no clarity that can lead to amends. Do not be afraid to air out your grievances to your better half and emphasize the things that upset you to find solutions and create positive changes within the household. Do not allow issues to fester and stew. However, always be careful in directing anger that is related to autism care towards your significant other. After the fight, make sure to patch things up and move on.
Don’t Take Yourself For Granted
Looking after an autistic child can drain the life out of you. More so, it can wear down a once affectionate relationship. Since you are merely human, you are allowed to be exhausted and depleted of all sense of determination and patience either from your child’s condition or your better half. Having occasional “me” time can release stress and pressure from all your obligations as a parent and as a partner. Engage in relaxing and fun activities or go somewhere with friends to unwind.
Sleep As Much As You Can
Another essential that must not be taken for granted is a good night’s sleep. “The amount of sleep you get and the quality of that sleep can actually affect your physical and mental health in ways you don’t anticipate,” says Julia Hogan, LCPC. Though it can be quite a challenge to get that much-needed snooze due to autism childcare, the reality is that having sufficient amount of sleep is beneficial for a couple’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Sleep is necessary to function and make decisions effectively. Create a schedule where you and your child can get enough sleep. It is during these moments of rest that you will realize troubles become light and you have a particular boost for your day ahead.
Go On Dates
For couples that are on a 24/7 care duty, going on dates to rekindle their bond can be tough because it seems as though there’s not enough time to become intimate and romantic. However, having time for each other is necessary to strengthen the connection. Parents who are dealing with children on the spectrum should always consider going on dates at least twice a month. You can ask other family members to take care of your child for a while. For the sake of your relationship, do activities together that you both enjoy, whether it’s trying out a new restaurant, watching movies, or karaoke nights.
Raising and nurturing a child with autism disorder can take a toll on any relationship especially if both couples are struggling due to insufficient knowledge about the condition and ineffective management skills. For this reason, autism can magnify small issues between couples that can affect their relationship significantly. Maintaining a healthy and trustworthy marriage is necessary for establishing a stable household that is reflective of the care that will be given to your autistic child.
Stress is not unfamiliar when it comes to parenting, as all parents understand upon waking up to the cries of the baby in the middle of the night for the first time. As per the assumptions, this even becomes a capital “STRESS” when it comes to taking care of the needs of children with autism. Assumption or not, one simple truth persists.
It’s normal for children to have nightmares once in a while. However, for kids who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), communication difficulties, and sensory dysfunction distress the child more from all these night terrors. Studies state that around 60% of children with ASD have trouble sleeping due to this problem.
While you cannot eliminate nightmares as a parent, you can help your child cope with the stress they experience.
Understand The Causes Of Nightmares
Uncovering the primary causes of nightmares of those with ASD has not yet been successful. However, experts have pinpointed several factors which might increase the risk of experiencing these situations. Some of these include the following:
Scary movies, TV shows, or stories
Irregular sleep routine or deprivation of sleep
Significant and sudden changes at home or school
Medications for ASD
“Autism tends to shine a bright light on whatever issues were already there.” Janeen Herskovitz, MA, LMHC said. As a parent, you need to have an idea of what contributes to your child’s night terrors. Once you have determined what these are, create a plan on how you can lower your child’s exposure to these problems.
Set A Proper Stage For Sleeping
Staci Lee Schnell, MS, CS, LMFT once said, “Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you’re sleeping, your brain processes complex stimuli.” Therefore, you should establish a pre-sleeping routine for your child to follow. First, set a regular timeslot for them to lie on their bed. Make sure that they have at least 10 hours of sleep every day. Explain to them that those who sleep late are more likely to experience nightmares. Second, impose a rule that all electronic gadgets should be turned off at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Do this is to ensure that they don’t produce a sleep-inducing hormone called melatonin.
Lastly, prepare a calming activity for them to help relax their mind and body. You may opt to play a board game, read a story, go outside to look at the stars, or take a bath.
Conquer The Darkness
There are two ways for your child to conquer darkness. The first strategy is to dash your child’s room with a small amount of light. You can either install a dimmer in the bedroom or turn on the nightlights until he or she falls asleep. You can also let your child keep his or her favorite toy or blanket to help him, or her settle down.
Seek Outside Help
It is also advisable for you to seek outside help, primarily if these night terrors are disrupting your child’s waking life. The best form of therapy for those with ASD is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). In here, the therapist will teach techniques on how the child can transform these scary thoughts into positive images. The therapist will also guide him or her in ways to address the anxiety brought about by these nightmares.
“Autism is a result of neurological differences in the structure of the brain that distinguish it from what we call the neurotypical brain. It is not mental illness or a personality disorder.” Sarah Swenson, MA, LMHC said. So to find the best therapist for your child, you may opt to ask the help of your pediatrician or check in with an ASD local support group for parents.
While we cannot prevent night terrors from happening, there are various ways for parents to provide comfort to children to reduce the frequency of nightmares. You only have to test all of these techniques and find the best ones which work for your child.
Scientists and experts say that the most critical phase of child development is the first three years of their lives. During this time, the brain is developing rapidly, and it is highly recommended to help the kids learn through educational but fun activities.
Not only does this stage indicate a child’s development, but this is also where they first experience interacting with their peers. It’s the first time they experience how to follow instructions and try different activities which will help hone their skills.
Caring For Children With Special Needs
Although this stage is all about helping our children’s brain development, the situation is quite different for children with special needs. For example, children with autism and other disorders can be quite challenging to handle. With a different circumstance at hand, it is crucial to know the most appropriate methods to keep the child engaged without overworking their mind.
Teaching children with special needs is not the same as an abled toddler. There has to be more patience, understanding, and, most of all, compassion. When caring for children with special needs in their developmental stage, it is essential to introduce activities and learning games which can stimulate their minds without confusing them.
Fun Activities To Do With Them
Children with special needs can be a bit more sensitive than other children. It is crucial to ensure that the learning environment of the child facilitates learning at an optimum level. So that they can understand you better, limit distracting things in the classroom, simplify instructions, and take advantage of multi-sensory techniques.
“Autism is a complex developmental disability that causes difficulties in many areas, with varying degrees of severity, most notably with social interaction and communication.” says Karla Helbert, LPC, E-RYT, C-IAYT. So to help you create a learning space for children with special needs, here are some fun activities which you can do with them.
1. Sensory Activities
Activities which stimulate a child’s five senses are suitable for children with special needs. By introducing different toys or activities related to visual learning, feeling, or auditory association, the child’s sensory skills improve. Sensory activities include Guess What’s Inside, Jack In A Box, and Shape Blocks. In the long run, these simple games help with their self-discovery and psychological and emotional development.
One of the best ways to approach learning with children with special needs is through roleplaying. Giving them instructions on what to be, how to do it, and which scenario to reenact gives them a taste of the real world while still doing it in a fun manner. Through roleplaying, kids can “live out” a day in the life of anyone they wish, and this helps with their social abilities and development at an early stage.
3. Physical Fun
Another way to get children with special needs to learn actively is through physical activities. The physical exercises and games you do with them do not have to be grand. Simple routines, such as yoga, exercising, and dancing, can help them be more active and enthusiastic. Through these activities, they can also improve their gross motor skills and enhance their hand-foot coordination. “There are many examples of physical activity that range in levels of intensity from light to vigorous. Maintaining your physical health can include yoga, bike riding, jumping rope, engaging in sports, running, walking, jogging, skiing, dancing, tennis, and gardening.” Marjie L. Roddick, MA, NCC, LMHC, said.
There are more activities you can do with children with special needs other than the three we mentioned above. You can try experimenting as long as it educates them, helps them develop, and keeps them safe from harm.
When a parent hits a snag or feels unsure about their capabilities when it comes to taking care of an autistic child, their go-to individual is a psychologist. After all, this person is not only licensed to provide mental help but can also offer clarifications to parental duties that seem hard to execute.
One of the mental health issues that autism parents are prone to having is depression. “Depression is an illness, an illness that you have little control over, just like any other illness. Nobody tells people with broken bones to get over their pain.” Charmaine J. Simmons, LPC said. That is especially true for moms and dads who have had to deal with the kids’ emotional and physical outbursts for a long time without getting a diagnosis. As you know, the confirmation that your son or daughter is in the spectrum can take years to come, and a lot of things may have already happened while waiting for that information.
In case you want to get over your depression and be able to always be there for your disabled kid, these are the activities you need to stop doing.
Being Afraid Of Change
Change happens to any human being or object in this world. If you’re distressing over your kid’s condition, you have to make peace with the reality that he or she might carry this neurological disorder forever. “A mental illness cannot be willed away or brushed aside with a change in attitude. Ignoring the problem doesn’t give it the slip either.” says Deborah Serani, PsyD. As for primary carer of the child, there are things you might not be able to experience anymore as well, such as partying with friends till dawn, having an independent kid who helps with house chores and seeing your baby grow up like your friends’ children. Still, those are nothing to cry about; as long as your child seems happy, you should be as well.
Comparing Yourself To Others
Scientifically speaking, no two persons are alike – not even twins – so it’s pretty crazy to compare yourself to others or be insecure of what others have. There are a few things that you have that they don’t, and vice versa – it’s a fact of life. When you stop this way of thinking, you’ll be able to get out of your depression wholly and quickly. “Focus on yourself and your own happiness and do not compare yourself to others.” Marc Romano, PsyD said.
Moving in just two points in your room can solve no problems, albeit that is something that troubled folks tend to do. In your mind, you might think that the movement will somehow jiggle your brain or allow you to remember possible solutions. However, in reality, there is no basis in that, so stop pacing and start focusing on the things that make you happy.
The worst-case scenario when you pick a fight with someone who has life issues as well is that you might end up in the hospital. Even squaring off with a non-disabled individual cannot be recommended as an outlet for your emotions, though. You will gain nothing but enemies by doing so. You need to go of all the anger that you have in your heart with regards to the things that depress you instead.
A valid decision can only come once you stop fighting within yourself. I do believe in the “inner demon” thing that some folks talk about, but I do think that there is an “inner angel” too. So, you should always seek the latter and stop arguing with yourself.
Abstract only gets celebrated in a canvas, but it’s already a bad thing when it’s applied to your life. For instance, when you are trying to name one emotion, you entertain other feelings, to the point that you no longer know what to do. Worse, you randomly pick an idea and dwell on it even if you have been unsure from the beginning about its validity. Stop being abstract-minded if you want to go back to your old self.
Trying To Live Through Your Kids
Some people become depressed if they realize how impossible it is for their kids to fulfill their – the parents’ – dreams. After all, there is no guarantee that the autistic child can lead a healthy life in which they can take on leadership roles in a company, become a doctor, etc. Although it’s nice that you want to be happy, but you should never live through your children because there’s a high possibility of it bringing disappointment to you.
Being A Zombie
Zombies are not only scary; they also have no sense of direction and no feelings. These are the characteristics that depressed folks tend to embody, especially when the disorder has gotten severe. No one can talk to you about normal things; you get irritated or aloof when someone tries to reach out to you. The thing is, you need to stay away from this zombie effect to be able to heal from depression.
Being an autism parent is undoubtedly incredibly hard to even with all your limbs and mind functioning completely. When you have to factor in conditions like depression, the difficulty level of being in your position multiplies by a few dozen folds. Despite that, you should always to strive to get better because you are the only person who can look after your autistic child in the best possible way.
Follow the tips above to kickstart your healing process. Cheers!
A child “on the spectrum” is what some people would refer to a child who is diagnosed with autism. This has also been mentioned in https://www.urgentteam.com/. Autism is not limited to just one particular type of condition. Instead, autistic conditions may vary in challenges that include trouble with social skills, learning disorders, repetitive behaviors and speech and nonverbal communication, to name a few.
Raising and disciplining children is difficult because parents need to find balance in showing affection at the same time being an authority figure. It is quite common for parents and society to give a pass for children with autism. Often, screaming fits and tantrums would generally result to a child in the cozy corner (time-out) or might mean taking his gadget privileges. When these happen in children with autism, it appears to be acceptable and expected behavior. Adults especially parents may give a pass for inappropriate actions out of concern and understanding of the child’s condition; probably, with false beliefs that the child is not capable of better behavior or maybe, thinking that disciplining a child with autism will further complicate the situation. Whatever reasons they may possess, adults need to give structure and discipline to the child with autism. After all, even though they have a condition. In essence, these children are still kids who need direction and support from parents. This has been the emphasis of hopecounselingcenter.net/
Parents aren’t always 100 percent sure if they are doing parenting right that’s why there are countless books, articles, journals and even internet forums on how to parent, discipline and raise children. The workload and stress of parenting an average child is nothing in comparison to a child with autism. It will require more research and a better understanding of the condition and its complexities for the parent to say that they are on the right track. One of the dilemma parents have with regards to their autistic child is disciplining: how to balance being affectionate but at the same time, be firm with your rules and how to properly carry out discipline technique in relative to the child’s condition.
Having a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is very challenging. There are many things to take into consideration. First of all, it is of great importance to make your child feel that he has all your support, love and appreciation. Second, you need to protect your child from the people surrounding him. At this point, it is important to note that a lot of people may not have any clue regarding how to interact with someone who has autism.