Caring For A Child with Autism and Balancing Self-Care

Having a child who is diagnosed with Autism brings rewards and challenges to life that many parents may never understand. During my work as a school counselor, I have worked with many parents who are on this journey. Most of these parents tell me that they have gained new insight in life thru raising a child who has autism. They have learned to pay attention to the little pleasures in life. They have learned to have more patience, kindness, and empathy for the people in their community. However, they also report some of the challenges. They often report that their lives have been restructured once they receive the diagnosis, that time is precious, and that their level of anxiety is often high.

Autism is a pervasive neuro-developmental condition which effects a child’s ability to communicate and interact with other people. Children with autism may have a difficult time understanding ‘typical’ social cues and social behaviors. They may face trouble engaging with those around them, engage in repetitive body movements, hyper focus on a certain area of interest, or experience delay in learning language.

Fortunately, in society today there are many programs and techniques for working with children with special needs. However, my concern is that parents of children with special needs may neglect their own self-care as they strive to provide services for their children. I often find it necessary to remind parents of my autistic clients to take care of themselves – put themselves on the “to do” list. Listed below are some strategies I suggest for incorporating this into their lives.

  1. Seek out good childcare and have a backup plan. Be sure when you are picking a childcare facility that providers are aware of your child’s condition and any limitations. Try to have more one person on your list who can provide care for your child in case of emergency.

  2. Be upfront with your employer. Discuss your childcare plan with your employer and any was your child’s health may affect your quality of work. Having this discussion can reduce the number of surprises or angry reactions should you have to adjust your schedule or work load due to childcare.

  3. Schedule “me” time, even if it is just 10 to 15 minutes per day. Taking time to recharge for 10 minutes can reduce the irritability an depression symptoms.

  4. Seek help. Finding a local support group or a therapist can allow for you to adjust to your new life with insight from parents with similar concerns or a trained professional.

If you are struggling in this area and would like to discuss these life challenges please call or email me, Nicole Wallace, LPCA at Path to Hope Counseling: Main # (984) 500-2021 and