In today's upside-down world where good is bad and bad is good, it takes a superhero to dodge oncoming bullets and survive as a stay-at-home mom. This is the place to celebrate your larger-than-life status! Get homeschooling tips, ideas for crafts and cooking, and inspiration to make it through the day. I'm a fellow Superhero Stay-at-Home Mom, a former preschool and kindergarten teacher with a master's degree in special education, and the mother of two sons, one with autism.
Support Groups Are Not Always the Answer for Parents of Autistic Kids
GOT to join a support
group!" was the unanimous advice I received from family and
friends when my 4-three-old son got diagnosed with autism. Looking
back now with the wisdom of hindsight, I realize their suggestion was
more of an easy out for them than a compassionate way to help me. It
was code for: “I'm busy with my own life. Don't burden me with your
problems. Go talk to someone else.”
Their indifference caught me off-guard.
I had always been the loyal one with a ready ear – listening to my
mom go on and on about her boyfriend who didn't want to commit,
hearing my sister whine when her son didn't get accepted to an
exclusive preschool, and sitting for hours while girlfriends detailed
their travails with potty training, breastfeeding, and sleep
schedules. Now, during my time of heartbreak and desperation, the
group of people I thought were
my support group were telling me to
go to a support group. I was
I arrived at the nondescript portable on
the campus of the Early Intervention Center. A group of moms and dads
sat around a conference table, their heads down as they skimmed
through the hand-outs. None of them looked up when I entered. None of
them appeared like they wanted to be there.
The facilitator asked us to introduce
ourselves and tell about our kids. A distressed mother told about her
teenage son who was acting violently at home – kicking, screaming,
and hitting. She had younger children so she needed to find somewhere
else for him to live. A worried-looking father talked about his
7-year-old twins who were getting an expensive but unproven treatment
for autism. He said his wife and him were going in debt to pay for
Story after story was grim and left me
feeling depressed, hopeless, and wanting to leave. I started to feel
guilty about my own story because it wasn't nearly as horrible as
theirs. I didn't feel any magical bond with these people like I
expected. Instead, it seemed like a heavier burden was getting placed
on my already weighted down shoulders as I listened to their
I attended a few more meetings, always
going away feeling more anxious and alone than when entering. I
learned in the years to come that my reaction was not atypical. That's
because autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning it affects each person
differently – ranging from the extremely mild to the extremely
severe. I found no comfort at the support group because no one was
telling a story that related in the slightest way to my experiences
with a high-functioning kid. In fact, those meetings made me question
whether my son even had autism!
if not a support group, what should parents do to find comfort and
help? All I can recommend is what worked for me:
seeing a therapist. I needed to talk
with someone who would listen even if that meant paying. I needed
someone who was looking out for me while I was busy looking out for
my son. My therapist got me to start investing in myself by getting
enough sleep, eating healthier, exercising more, and making time for
myself. Seeing her once a week was worth every penny.
on my son's speech and occupational therapists for advice and
They worked with my son on a weekly basis and knew him well. While
they didn't own a crystal ball, they could tell me encouraging
things about his progress and future.
okay with having just one or two close friends.
I stopped attending the two play-groups that we had joined when my
son was born. It was too hard to hear the other moms bragging about
their children's superiority in gymnastics, dance, and Spanish
classes when my son was just working on making eye contact.
I just started writing down all my feelings, fears, and
frustrations. It all came pouring out on paper. Sometimes it was too
painful to read, and I'd rip the pages from the notebook and tear
them into little pieces.
minimizing contact with certain people.
I no longer had patience for those who weren't there for me in my
time of need. Some of them wanted to re-enter my life when my son
started to improve, but I was no longer interested.
Many autistic children have Sensory Processing Disorder, which affects their daily lives and the lives of their families. These children don't perceive sensory input -- sounds, touch, tastes, movement -- like the rest of us do. This book is the Bible for dealing with SPD and helping your child enjoy all the sensory input life has to offer.