If something happens to me
This is perhaps the single greatest worry that all Autism parents have in common. I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights have been spent worrying about what would happen to my kids with Autism, if something happened to my wife and I. For an Autism parent, this is literally the stuff of nightmares because that fear is realistic.
For many families like mine, Autism Parenting is 25 hours a day, 366 days a year for the rest of our natural lives. For many, our kids will always need us to take care of them. They simply cannot survive independently for many different reasons. This isn’t meant to be a stereotype either, so please don’t be offended. It’s simply the reality many parents, like myself, find ourselves in.
I always talk about how as Autism parents, we’re still only human and have limitations. Our mortality is one such limitation and it’s scary because we fear what will happen to our kids when we die. Who will take care of them? What will become of them in our absence? These are all very real and practical fears, parents like myself grapple with on a daily basis.
The truth is, I don’t know what will happen and trying to plan for something like this can be extremely difficult because there are simply too many unknowns.
Like many of you, I was consumed by this fear for a long time. One day it occurred to me that worrying about this was understandable but at the same time, a waste of energy. My wife and I have a living will that dictates what should happen to our kids in the event of our untimely demise. The reality is that it’s of little comfort because as I said, there are far too many unknowns to ever really prepare for.
What I can do is channel that energy into something more positive. Rather than worrying endlessly about the future, of which I have zero control over, I can use that energy to take better care of myself. I may not live forever but will live as long as humanly possible.
I’ve found that to be a better way of viewing this particular situation. Wasted energy doesn’t do anyone any good. By focusing on self-care, I can be the parent my kids need, for as long as I possibly can.
Between that and commonsense preparedness (living will), I feel much better about what the future holds for my family.
I basically touched on this above but it deserves its own sections because of how important it is.
You cannot take care of your kids if you forget to take care of yourself. We all have a natural instinct that compels us to always put our kids first. Unfortunately, as well-intentioned as that is, it’s also misguided and even dangerous.
Putting every ounce of everything we have, into our kids is a noble, selfless venture. We mean well and in the short term, it might work. The problem is that this approach isn’t sustainable long-term and if we maintain that pace, we are destined to fail.
In order to be there for our kids, we first have to be there. If we run ourselves into the ground, we’re no good to the kids we love so much. Self-care is about not losing sight of the fact that as parents, we have very real limitations and needs of our own. If we don’t take care of ourselves, those limitations will significantly impact our ability to care for our kids.
I’ve talked about the countless times, so I’m not going to go into it again here but you can read my words on this subject by clicking here. Just remember this, in order to be selfless, you must first be selfish.
Autism Parenting isn’t easy and there are countless things we worry about on a daily basis. Sometimes this overwhelming sense of worry can cause us to lose focus and prevent us from addressing some of these common concerns.
My hope is, you can walk away from this article with at least some ideas that might help make your life as an Autism parent, a bit more manageable. Everyone’s situation is unique and may require an approach that’s equally unique. Your mileage may vary but we all need a place to start. Hopefully, this has helped to spark some ideas or connect you with some resources that can help.
Please feel free to ask or answer any questions in the comments below.
Have you tried any of these things? Have they worked or help in your situation? Did I forget something? I’m open to your suggestions because I’m living with these worries as well and can always use some new ideas to help me manage.