Strategies for Getting Help When You Need ItTaking Care of Yourself is Helping to Take Care of Your Child

If you’re like many parents and caregivers who have a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental disabilities, you can become so focused on caring for them that you forget to take care of your own health and wellbeing. But to provide the best possible care for your child and family, you need to give yourself an occasional break.   

One of the most effective ways to do that is by building and maintaining a support network that you can turn to when you want to take some much-needed time off.   

Ask Family and Friends for Assistance  

Your loved ones are there to help but they may not know how. Don’t be afraid to ask these trusted family members and friends for a little extra support when you need it. For example, you could ask them to run errands, drive your other children to activities, or even do simple chores around the house. You can also ask if they could stay with your child or children while you do something that makes you happy and relieves stress.  

Join Support Groups  

Additionally, you may want to connect with other families online who are in a similar situation and can provide you with helpful tips and advice. In-person autism support groups are another option. Not only can the parents and caregivers involved in these groups relate to the challenges and rewards of having a child with ASD, but they may also have recommendations for people to help look after your child. Some groups may offer in-person playgroups for children with ASD and their siblings too.  

Participate in Respite Programs  

One other option is to look for a respite care program. Organizations like Easterseals Northern California provide trained professionals to watch children with ASD for an hour or two while their parents take some time to care for themselves.  

Educate Your Support Team  

Last, make sure that anyone who watches your child is aware of their strengths and triggers and can handle potential meltdowns. Explain what behaviors they might see and how to best interact with your child. Another suggestion is to do a test run while you’re still home to make sure your child is comfortable with your friends or family members before you leave.   

Remember, you’re not alone. Having honest conversations with those who care about you and your family can give them insight into your life. In turn, they can better help and support you along the way.