As Autism parents, we all live in different worlds because Autism impacts our lives in very different ways. Some people have it pretty good and life is manageable, while others literally struggle to make it through each day. Many others fall somewhere in the middle.
I fall into the category of struggling to make it through each day. I can’t remember a day where I would sit back and say to myself, it was a really easy day today. In my life, easy days don’t exist.
I have an eighteen-year-old with the capacity of a five or six year old and that’s anything but easy. Life isn’t meant to be easy for anyone. If things are too easy, we can become complacent, and perhaps take things for granted. When things are too difficult though, we can end up crushed under the weight.
Multitasking is part of my everyday life. My life requires multitasking to a degree that my brain hits overload and simply can’t process things anymore. That’s not a good feeling.
My day usually revolves around an ever-growing list of things that absolutely need to get done but rarely do because I end up spending my time, running around, putting out fires.
If it’s not a medical crisis, it’s struggling to work, meet financial obligations, maintain my marriage, my sanity and continue trying to cope with the constant barrage of new problems. Triage is always the word of the day. Limited everything means that I have to put my efforts where they can do the most good for the greatest amount of people. That translates to having to make very difficult choices, with very real consequences.
My home is made up of five people, four are on the Autism Spectrum, three battling depression, two have serious medical issues and one with very fragile physical/emotional health. There’s never a shortage of things to worry about or stress out over.
People with Autism, typically have unique, and often demanding needs. Demanding just means that they are vital needs, that if not met, can have a very negative impact on their lives. In the case of my family, that impact ranges from sensory in nature to full on life-threatening.
Life doesn’t pull any punches. All four of my loved ones on the Autism Spectrum have unique, demanding and sometimes conflicting needs. That’s challenging because I’m but one person, trying to meet as many needs as I can, often failing to do so because I’m human. Sometimes one person needs something that is contraindicated for someone else. That seems to happen much more often than I’d like it to and certainly, more than seems fair.
Essentially, that means attempting to find a fragile balance between helping one while minimizing the negative impact on another. Let me tell you, it’s absolutely maddening to do so because sometimes, no matter what is done, someone will pay a price. There is never a one size fits all approach to anything in my world.
I do my best to take care of myself because I know that my health plays an essential role in continuing the quest to help my family navigate life, but it’s not easy.
I’m overwhelmed. I’m exhausted. I’m frustrated. I’m worried. I’m an Autism parent.