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Parental Fatigue: Coping with the Stress of Parenting a Child with Autism

Parental Fatigue: Coping with the Stress of Parenting a Child with Autism
March 8, 2018 Barbara Cravey
coping with parental stress, mother and child walking

Children on the autism spectrum have special needs that you, as parents, bear the responsibility to provide. Taking care of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be very stressful, however, and can cause parental fatigue.

At ABC Pediatrics, we’re aware of these challenges that you face every day. This is why our therapy services are at your disposal. But in the meantime, allow us to offer some advice on how you can cope with stress and avoid physical, emotional, and mental fatigue.

Find Social Support

The saying, “it takes a village to raise a child,” fits your situation perfectly. Remember that you and your spouse don’t have to do everything by yourselves. Learn to ask for help, especially when the exhaustion starts to overpower your emotions and affect your decisions.

Joining a support group dedicated to families of children with autism is ideal because it brings you into contact with other parents who know what you’re going through. They can understand you on an emotional level, which can be comforting. There will be days, for instance, when you’ll want to vent your frustrations; a support group is the ideal setting to do this.

Extended relatives, trusted neighbors and friends, and your child’s school can also be part of your support network.

Ask for Help (And Accept It, When Offered)

It’s understandable to be reluctant about entrusting the care of your child to someone else, even if it’s only for a day. But, if the workload has grown too much for you, don’t be ashamed to seek a helping hand. Make the most of your support group of friends and family; asking for their help is the smartest move you can make for your own and your child’s sake.

Your parents, in-laws, or siblings can look after your child while you step out to do some chores, for instance. It will be a huge help knowing that you have someone you can lean on in these times. Similarly, if your family and friends offer to help out, don’t hesitate to accept their assistance. Both will help ease the stress you’re experiencing every day.

Take a Break

One advantage of having a support group and being able to rely on them is that it gives you time to yourself. Entrust your child to your parents or spouse, and spend several hours doing whatever you want. Take a breather outside of the house. Go for a haircut, see a movie, visit your church, or go to a spa for a massage – any activity that allows you to de-stress is highly recommended.

If you feel that your situation is also putting a strain on your marriage, spend more time alone with your spouse. Forget everything else for a few hours; let your support system take care of the matters at home and do the things you two used to enjoy when you were still dating. Taking these breaks together will help rekindle the romance and strengthen your relationship. This will ease your stress and give you peace of mind.

Focus on the Positives

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can manifest aggressiveness, hyperactivity, and violent tantrums. On the other hand, they can also have “good days” where they are very cooperative, affectionate, playful, and downright sweet. These are the moments that you should focus on. They will help you cope with the more difficult days, when your child yells, hits, or throws a tantrum in public.

Plan for the Future

It’s likely that the bulk of your stress stems from your worries about the future. It’s only natural to worry about how your child will fare as an adult, who he or she will live with, and if you’ll be able to continue paying for their needs.

If you fear the uncertainty of the future, the solution is to face the problem head-on. Make plans as early as the present. Plan your finances accordingly and teach your other children how to care for their sibling. Plans like these will give you peace of mind because you know that your child will be well cared for.

At ABC Pediatrics, our therapy team can help you plan for the future. At the same time, our community can offer guidance, valuable resources, and other forms of support. Allow us to help you cope with stress and parental fatigue. Contact us for more information.


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