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Autism parents don’t have it easy. You are faced with many more challenges than a parent without the disorder. However, in all of the efforts you are making to take good care of your child, it is easy to forget that you need to maintain a healthy balance within your other relationships and cope with your own situation and emotions. Remember that the healthier you are emotionally, and the better the condition of your social life, the more capable you will be to make the right decisions for your autistic children and care for him or her to your best abilities.
The other relationships in your life are your support system and are a vital part of your own personal needs. Never underestimate the value of being social with other people you care about. Indeed, you will need time to yourself to relax, scream, cry, or anything else that helps you to cope. But you shouldn’t overlook the need to get out and do fun things with your friends and family members.
You won’t be able to properly deal with the constant emotional roller coaster ride that only autism parents experience if you aren’t at your healthiest emotional point. To be emotionally healthy, you need to get out and do social things you like. This doesn’t have to be anything enormous. It can include the occasional movie – even if it’s simply renting a movie and having some friends over to watch it. It may also include going out to a restaurant or heading to a family member or friend’s place for a meal.
You should also never overlook the importance of a phone call where you can vent your frustrations and hear about the lives of other people, too. Getting to know your neighbors can be a valuable social experience. This allows you to meet in the driveway or talk on the front porch when you cross paths.
Remember that though you are autistic parents, your autistic child is not the only important relationship in your life – even though it may be the most challenging and time consuming. These are the people with whom you can truly share your feelings. This can be a tremendous relief in itself. These are also the people with whom you spent your time before you had children. Try doing some of the activities you enjoyed before you became autistic parents and you’ll have “mini vacations” to look forward to and to enjoy on occasion.
This is not at all to say that you don’t enjoy the time you spend with your autistic child. Nor is it to say that you should try to make efforts to mimic the life that you had before becoming autistic parents. You should, however, recognize that just because you have an autistic child, you needn’t give up everything that you enjoy and all of the relationships that had been important in your life before that time. Just as your autistic child means so much to you, so do others, and you should not let yourself forget that – for your sake and theirs.
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