Being a parent of a child with special needs can be a challenge in itself. It can be stressful, emotionally draining, isolating and exhausting. Being a parent of an atypical child requires parents to devote more time to their children, which also might mean that parents often avoid self care due to the enormous stressors about their child, child’s life and future that keeps looming over their head. Caregivers and parents often spend more time caregiving to atypical children compared to parents of typical children. According to a research, mothers of adolescents with autism experience long term stress which is similar to the stress of combat soldiers.This is coupled with fatigue and work interruptions too. It's important to understand that parents need to cater to their own needs as well in this rollercoaster of attending to their children’s special needs. It's important to spend time with themselves to provide a little self care and me-time for the parents too! After all, without parents having good health mentally and physically, it isn’t possible to devote the required time and effort and love and care that should be provided to their children.
Here are 3 things parents should know that could help them:
1. Seek support:
It is okay to ask for help. In fact it can be beneficial for parents to seek help in the form of therapy, advocacy groups or local support groups. Not to mention if local support groups are not available one could take a step forward and start one themselves because the most crucial kind of support and resources that a parent could get with a child with special needs is from another parent in the same scenario. This will help you find different coping strategies and make you feel included, thus saving yourself from further emotional exhaustion. Don’t be ashamed to ask help from your partners, friends and families. This in fact isn’t a sign of weakness but of strength.
2. Self care:
It is important to remember that being a parent of a kid with special needs is in fact the job of nothing lesser than a superhero. And even superheroes are not perfect. It’s important to know that in the end we are humans, with feelings and emotions. It's alright to mess up, but you shouldn’t beat yourself up for it. Just have a strong will and never give hope! Sometimes your efforts might feel like they are not being reciprocated with rewards, but if you keep that hope and faith, you’ll see everything happens for a reason. Life for you is therefore always interesting and challenging. Don't lose the essence of your true self.
It is important for parents or caregivers of children with special needs to maintain healthy relationships with others, be it their partners, family members or friends. It's important to devote some time to them and socialise instead of being isolated. Helping always doesn't mean to take care of children. It could be in the form of spending time after they've gone to bed. In fact your friends and family are always willing to help so it's okay to ask them for help whenever required. You don’t need to deal with all problems alone.