Advice to All Ausome Parents
Living the Ausome Life is HARD and not for the weak. I truly believe God blessed every Ausome child with his strongest on Earth warriors!! Throughout my almost 13 years of Living the Ausome life I have learned a few things that have significantly reduced my stress and I would love to pass some of the advice on to other Ausome Parents. I pray some of these tips helps you and your household. Disclosure: My son is nonverbal, almost 13 years old, and goes to school full time at a Public School District.
1. Don't Try to Change Their World Too Much, Join Them In Their Ausome World Instead.
One of the biggest and most important lessons I have learned since my son's diagnosis is that his mind does not work like mine or any other mind in the World. This is an important FACT about our Ausome kids. Because of this fact, he does not think or see things the same way as others/society may. When I realized this, a lot changed in our household.
One thing that used to embarrass me and completely throw me off was the fact my son hated wearing clothes. He would strip anywhere and everywhere!! Attached are a couple pictures to prove it lol!! This occurred between the ages of 5-9 years old. The first couple years he would strip at parks, in the car, other people's houses, Chuck E. Cheese, etc.
After about 2 years I started to pay attention to WHY he was stripping. HE WAS UNCOMFORTABLE!!! He would mainly strip when he had on Jeans, gym shoes, and shirts with tags on them. So I changed his wardrobe to jogging pants and tag less shirts instead. Although it did not stop the stripping, it heavily reduced it because he was now more comfortable.
I say all this to say, PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CHILDS NEEDS. Take the time to sit, observe, and understand. When you do this and follow their lead, it reduces your frustration as well as theirs.
2. Work On What You Can Control, Leave Behind What You Cannot Control.
Like any other diagnosis, you can't control everything that happens afterwards. All you can do is trust your professional and follow their advice. Autism is no different. Like many other, I am a self proclaimed control freak!!! I want everything to go as planned and exactly as I envisioned. My Ausome Son has completely demolished my planning and my visions more times than I can count.
In the past, when my son would have an "Ausome Day" I would immediately feel frustrated, sad, and unaccomplished. For those who are not aware, an Ausome Day is when your kid has full on melt downs, temper tantrums, refuses to cooperate, refuses to listen, or goes crazy on you out of seemingly no where. All of this frustration came out of me not being able to do what I planned. Me not being able to accomplish something on my forever growing checklist. All that frustration did was cause me to have a horrible rest of the day and probably shortened my life span a couple days each time I held that anger. IT WASN'T WORTH IT!!!!
Now I have learned to just go with the flow with my Ausome Son. If he's having an Ausome Day, we just stay home. If he's having a great day and is ready to take on the World, that's what we go do. Being a parent/caregiver of Autism is already a high stress job. Adding additional stress onto an already stressful job is just not worth it. Yes, you will miss an event or two...yes, you will have to push that grocery shopping trip back a day or two...yes, you will have to leave events and come home early. Just plan for every scenario possible to reduce your stress level and live a little longer!!!
3. If You Are Not Happy, Your Child Won't Be Either.
Now this one is going to be a hard one for some of the parents/caregivers reading this. I'm going to put it in all caps for you all...SELF CARE IS IMPORTANT!!! You know how when riding a plane, they make it clear to put your facemask on first and then assist others. The same thing should apply in your daily life.
Take the time out to make a list of everything that truly makes you happy or puts a smile on your face. Hang that list up somewhere and everyday you should be doing AT LEAST one of those things. When we are happy and enjoying life, our kids are doing the same. They can feel what we're feeling whether they are able to say it or not. So put your facemask on first everyday and then make sure everyone else's is on.
4. It Truly Takes a Village.
I want to be sensitive with this last one because I fully understand not everyone has a strong village. But whether your village is one person or one hundred people, they are a very important piece of your sanity. Also, the great thing about villages are they can be built from nothing.
For those who have a strong village, lean on them when needed and lean on them often. Whether it's someone to just vent to on the Ausome days, someone to go grab a bite to eat with, someone who comes over to just have a glass of wine with, or someone who babysits...they are all important to lean on and call up when needed. A lot of times we don't want to burden others with our issues or we feel they won't understand, but you'll be surprised how much support others can be.
For those who have a weak village, start to build one. Join Autism groups on social media to try to connect with other Ausome parents/caregivers. Find special needs/autism activities happening in your area that you can attend to meet other people. Create your own support groups to build a network of people who need just as much as you do. Whatever you do, don't suffer alone!!! Reach out to someone!!
I hope some of these suggestions that have helped me over the years can help even one Ausome Parent/Caregiver. If you have additional advice that can help others, please comment below.