It’s difficult for many people to understand why parents of kids with Autism, do the things they do. It’s even harder for many people to understand why kids with Autism do the things go they do..
As parents of kids with Autism, we face challenges that simply don’t occur in any other circumstance.
We have learned through much blood, sweat, meltdowns and many tears, what’s best for our children on the Autism Spectrum, as well as what’s best for our families. What’s best for every child and family is very often different but the underlying principles remain the same.
While we may seem anti-social or uninterested in spending time with family and friends, the truth is, it’s just not that easy to get away..
In a more typical family setting, parents would simply use a babysitter in order to spend some time away from the kids, with or without the company of friends and family.
Unfortunately, if you’re a parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum, you don’t simply get a babysitter. It’s actually more like you can’t just get a babysitter. Of course there’s always exceptions to the rule but more often than not, it’s extremely difficult and often times simply impossible.
It’s not that we don’t desire to get away or spend time with people other than our child or their therapists and doctors because I think it’s fair to say that many of us do. The issue is that for many, being an Autism Parent is a 24/7/365/for the rest of our natural existance and that doesn’t leave time for much else.
I think that despite an overwhelming desire to take a break or have even the most pitiful of social lives, the list of people that we either trust with our children on the spectrum or are even capable/willing to take that challenge on, is so small that it’s often seen as nonexistent.
It’s should also be said that simply bringing our kids along, is so much more easily said than done. Please don’t assume that it has to do with anything other than us recognizing that our children wouldn’t do well in a particular situation or environment.
Think of it like this. If your typical child was unable to swim, would you take them somewhere that would require you to throw your child into the deep end of a pool, without a floatation device or the skills needed to make their way to safety? Of course you wouldn’t.
As Autism parents, we face situations like that but rather than throwing our kids into the pool, we would be putting them into a situation that would impact them on a sensory level.
Much the same way that tossing your kid into the pool, knowing they can’t swim would be unfair to that child (to say the very least), it’s also unfair for us to put our spectrum kids into situation that we know they are not equipped to handle or cope with. In the case of kids on the Autism Spectrum, things such as lights, sounds, smell, physical contact or simply being around large groups of people, can be very much akin to tossing them in the pool, knowing they can’t swim.
I know that’s a dramatic example but the point is that we know what our kids can and cannot handle.
We know the outcome of putting our kids in situations that will cause them undo distress and it’s not pretty or pleasant, for anyone.
The next time that the special needs parent in your life declines an invite or can’t find a sitter, understand that it’s most likely not a personal issue at all. It’s that ensuring the best interests of our kids with Autism is an enormous undertaking that requires a great deal of sacrifice, love and commitment..
The best thing you can do, is continue inviting us to do things, understand if we ever have to decline said invite and don’t take it personally..
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