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Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

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Tips for Parenting a Child With Autism

9. Plan Time for Breaks

Many parents of children with autism feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and sometimes defeated. They talk about difficulties in their marriage and other relationships. While there is no quick fix for resolving detrimental emotions, you can take measures to protect yourself so your child's condition does not get in the way of your physical or emotional health.

Review your calendar weekly. In the midst of the many appointments your child might have with speech or occupational therapists or other health care professionals, write in "appointments" for yourself and your relationships. Schedule regular dates with your partner, other children in the family, and close friends.

Exercise regularly. Keep up with the physical activities you enjoy. Eat a balanced diet and stay at a normal weight. Staying fit and healthy is essential to your physical and emotional wellness -- and to caring for a child with special needs.

Seek help if you or your partner is feeling persistently overwhelmed or depressed, or the stress of caring for child with autism is affecting your family relationship. Watch for signs of anger, resentment, or opposition from other children in the family. Your doctor can help you find a qualified individual, couples, or family therapist to help you figure out the best ways to cope.

In addition, plan time for a break away from a child with autism. Trained personnel can help relieve you from these duties as needed. These breaks can help families communicate in a less stressful context and allow parents to focus on their relationships with their other children. Having regular breaks may also help a family continue to care for a child with autism at home rather than becoming so exhausted that they resort to institutional care. Government programs exist to help families who cannot afford this occasional care.

Moms of kids with autism talk about having very close relationships with their children, as they organize the child's therapy, hire specialists, purchase supplies, and act as their child's advocate to receive the best treatment. The biggest payoff comes from a unique bond you can have with your child and the joy you receive in every developmental accomplishment.

There's no doubt that raising a child with autism is the ultimate parenting challenge. But with the necessary support and ongoing training, you and your family can learn how to cope and work as a team.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Alan G Weintraub, MD on May 12, 2013
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