Special Needs survival tips for parents and caregivers:
1. Identify your support system.
2. Don’t forcibly bring spouse along for the journey. He’ll get there when he will. Everyone processes information differently. Our kids usually need both their parents unless one is particularly deadbeat.
3. Learn therapies. It’s empowering and makes you more in control. When you learn the way therapies are done, you maximize the chances of your child’s future functionality.
4. Take time out for yourself. Even if it’s to watch a favorite show.
5. ASD or any other special needs don’t show improvement overnight or in a month or in one year. Don’t expect that. This expectation will disappoint you.
6. Even if spouse doesn’t get it, maintain your closeness with them if they’re good people. Don’t count their incooperation against your marriage. Marriages suffer with special needs. But they don’t have to. Chasing your spouse to share your vision for your child doesn’t lead to results. It does however lead to disagreements and fights. Delegate non-special needs tasks to them. Like giving you a massage, making dinner, picking up your mom from the airport, cleaning, paying for therapies. This will save your sanity.
7. Connect with other special needs moms. It’s cathartic and they are truly the only other people who get it. Don’t worry that your tribe is changing. Your life is changing, the tribe-changing is just a function of that.
8. Try to maintain social interaction as much as you can. Hiding in a hole doesn’t help. Hire a baby sitter if you can’t go out with your kiddo but go out with them if you can. In order to have a typical kid, you have to expose them to typical experiences.
9. Don’t clap back at people who don’t get it. This will just exhaust you. It’s your crusade and you alone can deal with it.
10. Try to have loads of grace for your special needs child. They can’t help it but you can. But you can have a meltdown too. Give yourself the time and opportunity to melt down. You don’t always have to be strong.
11. Don’t yell. Walk away. Spouse or children. Walk away. Conserve yourself.
12. Get a facial, walk on the beach, listen to music, join the gym, talk to a girlfriend, rearrange your closet, go shopping, have sex, spend a night at your parents’, watch a movie. Whatever it takes to get out of any funk that you ever get into. Don’t let periods of funk last. They can becoming damaging to your mental health. Be optimistic. Look at the glass having room for more. Don’t throw in the towel. You’re always stronger than special needs.
13. Celebrate the small wins, and get on your therapist’s ass to fix the problems.
14. Plan a vacation every few months even if you don’t go. When you plan four vacations in one year that don’t happen, you finally go to the beach one weekend. Not every plan materializes. But big plans shrink to smaller plans usually and that’s where you were aiming to get anyway.
15. Share. Sharing is caring but sharing also helps spot a person who is going through the same. Then that person becomes your good friend and confidant.