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Parenting and Mental Health

Some Thoughts on Staying Sane

Managing a disability like autism can be an unparalleled challenge. It is extremely important to not let yourself go over the edge as a parent. It is normal to go through a tremendous amount of mental and physical stress. Combine that with lack of sleep, a possibly inconsistent or absent support group, and the ups and downs of hoping for recovery, and you have a very, very complicated physical and mental challenge.

Anyone who subscribes to various autism newslists will hear of horrible tragedies--parents going over the edge of hopelessness and hurting or killing their children. Most parents of autistic children understand to some degree the reasons for such a hopeless act. BUT THERE IS NO EXCUSE OR JUSTIFICATION FOR HURTING YOUR CHILD. If you are afraid of hurting your child, seek professional help. Consider putting your child in a residential facility or foster family. There has been too much of a negative stigma attached to residential facilities and foster families. This is not Hollywood. Real people, not monsters, staff most of these facilities. While some few may be horrible, most are quite satisfactory and some are wonderful. Don't let Hollywood's concept of the wicked "Institution" put you in a position where you feel either you or your child must die because you can't continue. Don't let other people guilt you into the all or nothing scenario. So many feel they must be either the Autistic Superparent or nothing. Your choices are not that narrow.

What is important to understand is that you will go through feelings of anger, depression, hopelessness and loss. You will mourn for the relationship you expected to have with your child. Allow yourself the awareness that these feelings acceptable. Then get over it. Get off your duff. There is so much hope out there. For some, raising autistic children is a two to four year sprint. For most, it is a marathon. You will establish a satisfying relationship with your child. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Some Tips for Mental Health