When you’ve been an Autism parent for as long as I have (about 17 years), you learn a thing or two. Most of the time, those things learned were learned the hard way, but they were all valuable lessons nonetheless.
Something I want to talk to you about today has to do with how we react to the insane amounts of stress associated with being an Autism parent.
There are few things on this planet that can equal the challenges of being an Autism parent. Many people don’t realize that Autism parenting is often constant. It’s 25/8/366 and it remains this way for the duration of our natural lives. Many of us will never know empty nest syndrome or what it’s like to not have to constantly worry about what will happen to our kids if something happens to us.
Life as an Autism parent isn’t easy. It’s not without its rewards but it’s not easy.
One of the things that I struggled with at first and still do on occasion, has to do with feeling frustrated with my kids. Let’s be honest, what parent doesn’t feel frustrated with their kids at some point.
In my head though, there was always a difference between feeling frustrated with a neurotypical kid for whatever reason and feeling frustrated with my kids for behaviors that are completely outside of their control. I used to think, who has the right to be frustrated with an Autistic child for being an Autistic child? Much of what I found frustrating were things outside of their control and therefore not their fault.
What kind of person gets frustrated with a kid like that? As it turns out, a human.The bottom line is this, it's okay to be frustrated with your child on the Autism Spectrum. It's how you deal with those feelings that matter the most.Click To Tweet
I used to beat myself up all the time because I would get frustrated with my kids for things like not being able to tolerate clothing or having such a hard time with food. A big one was melting down while in public. I used to get so frustrated with that and sometimes still do.
Someone, somewhere, must have said that it was a terrible thing to ever get frustrated with a child that has special needs because every time I did, it felt like I was the worst parent in the universe. I struggled with this for a long time until I finally realized a few things.
I realized that I was human.
I realized that I had limits.
I realized that me being frustrated with my kids over behaviors they had no control over, was pretty normal, as far as normal goes.
I also realized that being frustrated with my kids on the Autism Spectrum does not mean I don’t love them or they are somehow bad kids. It simply means that I’m a human parent and they are human children. Kids are supposed to drive their parents crazy, and parents are supposed to be driven crazy by their kids. Autism or not, they’re still kids.
Once I realized that I stopped beating myself up as much as I had been. Instead, I began to focus on a way of managing the emotions I experienced as an Autism parent. I found healthy ways to cope with my frustrations and anxieties. I never took my frustrations out on my kids in a physical way. I was just losing patience and raise my voice. I found that writing helped me to process my feelings, and use the experiences, both good and bad, to help other parents out there going through a similar situation.
It’s not a perfect solution but it definitely helps me to process things better and maintain a proper perspective.
The bottom line is this, it’s okay to be frustrated with your child on the Autism Spectrum. It’s how you deal with those feelings that matter the most. Beating yourself up for being human, isn’t going to help anyone. You aren’t a bad parent for having limitations either. It’s just really important to know your limits and recognize when you’re approaching them… ☺