How Can I Manage The Stress That Accompanies Parenting A Child With Autism?

Question: How can I manage the stress that accompanies parenting a child with autism?

Answer: Parenting a child with autism is indeed stressful and challenging. The stresses come from many sources. First of all, when you first receive the diagnosis, even if you've been expecting this information, oftentimes parents say that if feels as though they have been hit by a truck with all the information they have to process all at once.

In addition, parents have to immediately begin to address the issue, and manage all of the services, treatments, and therapies which are recommended. Time management alone is very stressful. As parents try to juggle their other family members with the needs of the child with autism, with advocacy for the child with autism, and just managing all the therapists and other personnel who are now a part of your life. Also, sometimes parents receive conflicting opinions and information which is very stressful to try to manage. Of course there are also financial stressors as parents try to decide which private options they should pay for out of pocket, which are not covered by health insurance. And of course, there is the worry about the future for your child with autism.

What I've found that has been successful for parents is to try to take the day to day tasks and deal with them as you need to on a day to day basis. But then take some time out periodically, which oftentimes you actually need to schedule, to sit down with your spouse and talk about the future for your child, and talk about what progress your child is making, as well as to review finances and other issues within the family.

It's also very important to seek help. There are many resources available through federal and state agencies including services, family support, sibling support, and parent information sessions which you might find helpful. It also helps to get to know other parents who are in your situation because you're not alone, and oftentimes parents feel socially isolated as they deal with these issues.

Lastly, if you do feel as though you are not able to deal with your family effectively because of depression or anxiety, or just general inability to deal with all of these issues, it's important to seek help for yourself. This may be professional help, or again it could be help from parent support groups, family, or friends. Just remember you're not alone in this.