5 Valuable Tips For Autism Parents

Hey friends!! We are so excited to kick off Labor Day weekend knowing that Fall is just around the corner! I haven’t touched much on how we are doing since Finn’s diagnosis so I wanted to share a few valuable things we have learned not only since his official diagnosis but just in starting his speech and occupational therapy 2 years ago. The first week, even two really after his diagnosis were  literally a roller coaster. 

My mind raced on all different scenarios, all of the what if’s came into play, feeling as though one moment we could tackle it all and the next just wanting to lay in bed and just be. He started his new preschool, we adjusted his IEP so he now gets ABA along with speech and OT and he is doing fantastic y’all!! This week especially has been really awesome for him so I just feel so thankful. It's a celebration week for sure!! It makes me teary even typing this because it can be scary putting trust in a new team of people and we all want him to succeed but some days are flat out hard, exhausting, and emotional. So if you’re reading this and maybe you’re in a place of lost hope, feeling down because maybe your child is not making progress or regressed, maybe you yourself are questioning your own decisions and wondering if you’re a good mom (or dad!) I see you! I hear you! You are not alone and you are doing an amazing job!! KEEP GOING! Here are a few of my most important reminders:

1. Be the best advocate you can be for your child! Stay informed and take advantage of all of the services available to you in your community. We have gained and still are gaining so much knowledge and strength from our doctors and therapists for Finn! Educate others, ask questions, answer questions! Don't settle. It truly takes a village! 

2. Acknowledge your feelings. There have been countless times of overwhelming feelings and I think the best thing to do is to talk about why you’re feeling that way. Maybe your feeling conflicting emotions, I know I do. Some days I feel like we can sign up for all the therapies, research all the toys that might help, go to dinner as a family, like we can conquer it all but others I just want to stay in bed and be sad for a little because I can’t fix the meltdowns or the screaming. Don’t push your feelings away, talk about them. I kind of consider his speech therapist my therapist too, haha! ;)

3. Redirect. Being a parent is stressful in general, but with autism it can easily become out of control. When it comes down to it, talking about the disorder can be painful. However, I think it’s super important to have some semblance of adult life. Spend time together as a family and individually with all of your children and refrain from constantly talking about it. Try to avoid conflict with your partner when talking about an autism related issue when really it’s probably that autism that has you so upset and angry. The truth is, everyone in your family needs support and to be happy despite the circumstances.  

4. Celebrate the small victories! Love your kiddo so hard and celebrate every single accomplishment. It can be hard to not draw comparisons to typically developing children when your surrounded by milestone check offs but focus on what they CAN do. This took me probably up to this point to really let go of what everyone else is doing/thinking. They don't know how hard we have worked, chances are they won't know how hard you and your kiddo have worked either so celebrate!!

5. Network. Get involved in the autism community. (I'm still learning about this world too!) Maybe you have no resources readily available in your community, join Facebook groups! Local events! While it’s true you may be the captain of your team, you cannot do everything yourself. This was hard for me feeling like I can just do it all alone. Make friends with other parents who have children with autism. Talk to other parents while you wait at therapy. You will gain so much support of families who understand the day to day challenges. Getting involved with autism advocacy is so empowering and you’ll be doing something for both you and your child! You are not alone!! Autism has kind of forced me to come even more out of my shell. I think I'm more introverted most of the time but there is something so freeing of just being like "this is where we are at" and having someone say "us too!" or "I totally understand!"

I'm taking my own advice from this post but remember that your child is so much more than a diagnosis. They are still a human being with their own unique quirks and likes and above all else, they are perfectly and wonderfully made and made for a reason! They couldn't thrive without YOU. Wherever you are reading this, at whatever stage you're at in this journey, know I'm sending you all my love and support and I UNDERSTAND. WE'RE RIGHT THERE WITH YOU.

I want to thank all of you who follow Finn's journey and have shown SO much love, support, and prayers. It has touched our family beyond what any of you could understand and we are so thankful for each and every one of you! Have the best weekend friends!!