You need to take time for you. You should be exercising. Eating healthy, clean and organic meals would help you and your family.”
Do these well-meaning statements want to make you SCREAM?
Just one more thing on the list of things you ARE NOT doing. The never ending ‘should do” litany continues.
Whether we are raising, educating or caring working with individuals with autism, or any other special need for that matter, we know all too well that we should be taking care of ourselves.
But, the million-dollar question is WHEN? HOW?
The demands on our physical, emotional and time resources are excessive on a ‘good’ day! A day in the life of a parent raising a child with autism is jam packed with therapy, appointments, phone calls and interspersed with negotiation, begging and meltdowns.
Oh, and don’t forget the laundry, grocery shopping, meal prep, cleaning, attending to the myriad of needs of our family members and whatever else might be on the to do list.
Educators don’t fare much better. Their days are filled with the above and the added bonus of attempting to educate 30 or more other students only to go home to their own children and responsibilities. How is it possible to carve more time out of a day like that?
How is it possible to create a healthy balanced lifestyle when we live in a vortex of frenetic activity?
I don’t have all the answers. But, I have lived both the life as an educator and mom to three kids, one of whom has autism. I knew all too well, what I should be doing. I carried the weight of that knowledge around like a backpack filled with bricks and glued to my shoulders. For years, I could not figure out HOW to get all my ‘shoulds’ done.
Somewhere along the line my focus shifted. Maybe it was time spent with a good psychiatrist, maybe it was the relentless prayers or the anti anxiety meds. Looking back on those days and years I find myself looking back, through a fog – I see myself surviving. But, how I did so remains somewhat unclear. I begin to believe what my mother had espoused for years: “By the grace of God go I.”
And so, here I am having emerged from the fog and determined to guide others through it; To be a beacon, a lighthouse for those who are in the deep waters of life touched by autism.
Being effective in whatever role we play has much to do with our openness to learning; to growing in knowledge about autism and the strategies, tools and skills we certainly must practice.
But, one thing I know for sure: we can know a lot about autism and still be completely incompetent in our interactions and relationships. To be honest, without growth in our physical, emotional and mental health we will be less effective than we can be for those who need us.
With this in mind, Autism Aspirations is taking a holistic approach to teaching and training those whose lives are touched by someone with autism. We are, after all, humans. We don’t teach, raise children, work or exist in a vacuum.
We need to be growing in all areas of life: self care, physical, emotional, relational, spiritual and mental health must be a core component of any ‘autism’ training. We simply cannot focus solely on those who have autism because they are only one part of the relationship. To do so would be akin to trying to steady yourself on a two- legged stool.