Guilt? Anger? Sorrow?
If you’re like most parents of autistic children, you go through a daily emotional roller coaster.
One minute you’re worried that your child will never make any strides in his speech.
The next minute you are frustrated with your child because he keeps acting out. Then you feel guilty for blaming him for something outside of his control.
Always, you feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and isolated.
And you feel like bad parents for not being able to do more for your child.
Dealing With Your Feelings
Your feelings are a natural response to a situation that just isn’t fair. You direct your frustration at yourself, the doctor, the school, and even your child. You feel guilty for thinking, “Why me?”
But you need to acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to experience the anger and the hurt. You lost something cherished – that your child didn’t turn out the way you expected. It’s all part of dealing with grief.
Minimizing your feelings won’t make them go away and will only prolong the grieving process.
It may help to talk to a therapist if you find yourself in a self-defeating cycle. You tell yourself not to get frustrated with your child but you always end up back in the same place. Talking to a third party may give you a different perspective on how you respond to certain situations and help you change your responses in the future.
Create a Community
You’re likely spending all of your time taking your child to therapists or researching new therapies.
But it’s important to give yourself a break. Don’t punish yourself and think that you have to spend every waking moment working with your child or researching treatments. You’re in this journey for the long haul, so it won’t help to push yourself to the breaking point.
Depending on the functioning level of your child, you may want to join parents groups in which you can trade ideas and vent your frustrations. Or you can get involved with activities at your child’s school.
Having an autistic child can be isolating, so it’s important to join a community so that you can interact with other people and feel more normal.
Yes, you may go through an emotional roller coaster everyday.
But when your child makes a breakthrough in his therapy, you also feel a glimmer of hope.
And that is worth holding on to.