April is Autism Awareness Month. This month is very special to me and my family. My 8-year-old son is on the Autism spectrum. Although raising an Autistic child can be quite challenging, it is also very rewarding. It’s amazing watching him explore the world around him. He is a very energetic, fun-loving child, but at times he can be overly intense.
At times, raising a special needs child can literally consume you. If your child has been recently diagnosed, you probably feel like I felt like five years ago, alone and scared. None of my friends had a special needs child. Who would I talk to that understands our situation? Well, I can’t say that I understand your situation, entirely but I have been there.
Here are a few tips to help you along the way.
Schedule and Structure
Raising a child with special needs is not an impossible feat. It is a job that requires dedication, patience and amongst all things, structure. The spontaneous lifestyle does not work well for our son; we schedule nearly every minute of his day. This type of structure helps him feel confident and secure. He trusts his routine and I make sure that I stick to it. If there is a deviation in his routine, I try to inform him ahead of time. I literally feel like a secretary for a CEO.
Take Time for You!
What do you love to do? What hobbies did you have before having children? Once you find that out, you must act. Although it can be easy to allow your child’s condition to consume you, resist the urge. Having a hobby or an escape from your home-life is a beneficial thing. You must take time for yourself. Even if you hang out with your friends for an hour after work, or join a gym. Make sure that you find some sort of an outlet. It will be a refreshing change.
Don’t Be Hard on Yourself
We all make mistakes. Use your mistakes to help you plan better. Don’t beat yourself up for small mistakes. You will miss doctor’s appointments, you will forget to get a prescription filled, you will lose your temper and you will want to give up. Acknowledge your feelings, write them down, scream them out loud, then pick yourself up and move on.
Talk to Someone
Everyone needs someone that they can confide in. Make sure that you have someone to talk to. If you don’t physically have someone to talk to, write your feelings in a journal. Make sure that you get it all out. Sometimes a great venting session is all you need to get through the day.