5 Things You Can Do Today to Prevent Autism Parent Burnout

BY: - 12 Aug '14 | Parenting

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Facing Autism on BMWK

If you are raising a child with autism, then you know that we always have a battle to fight. Our journey becomes a roller coaster ride that we board when our children are diagnosed. It is easy for us to burn out, especially when sources of support are few and access to services is limited.

These are our realities. There is no way around it. So what can we do? We have two choices: 1. Make the best of our situation by finding a way to make things work. 2. Become paralyzed by what needs to be done and in the end do nothing. What is your choice?

During recent conversations with fellow autism parents, I recognized a common theme: We were not getting enough time to ourselves. We were caught up in all that comes with raising our children. We forgot that when we don’t take care of ourselves, we are decreasing our ability to care for others.

I have promised myself that I will stop at nothing to give my son what he needs and I will make self-care a priority. I encourage all of you to do the same. So how can we avoid becoming burnt out as we raise our children with autism?

Check out five things you can do to get started today:

  1. Keep up with your annual medical and dental checkups. Our physical health is so important. We are no good to our children or ourselves when we are sick. If we crash, then the whole ship goes down.
  2. Consider psychotherapy and/or psychiatric care. Being in good mental health is critical. I know in our community going to see a therapist can be taboo, but we need to push past this stigma and get help when we need it. Taking care of children is no easy feat. Sometimes it can overwhelm even the strongest parent.
  3. Tap into the entitlement services in your state to get access to services. Services like respite can be a God send for our families. I know some parents who have shared the ridiculous wait times for this particular service. We can start by putting our child’s name on these waiting lists and following up periodically. I have found that smaller agencies may have a shorter wait time for support services. Call every agency in your state if you have to, in order to get the help that you need. If one agency has a three- year wait, another one may have a one-year wait. Some agencies will let you bring someone in to be trained as your respite provider. Find out the options in your state, but please do not give up.
  4. Steal moments in your day to have some “me time.” I have learned that we have to think outside the box when it comes to self care. Maybe some of us do not have anyone to watch our children. This means that self care will have to come in other forms. It could be as simple as reading for pleasure during our commute to work or waking up before the kids to exercise. It could even mean watching a Netflix movie with some popcorn and a glass of wine once the kids are in bed. If you do have a support system in place, then you have more options. Make time for date nights, girl’s or boy’s night out, or even going out alone. A good friend of mine does her “Mommy Walk Outs” once a week. I love this idea.
  5. Ask for help. I know this sounds simple, but it can be tough to let others know that we need them. The reality is most of the people around us are caught up in their own lives. We really can’t fault them for that. If we need help, we need to ask for it. It is that simple. Ask the people in your life (family, friends, associates, agencies) for help. We do not have to do this alone.

BMWK: What do you do to avoid burn out as a parent of a child with autism? 

About the author

Kpana Kpoto wrote 38 articles on this blog.

Kpana Kpoto, also known as Miz Kp, is a special needs advocate and blogger. She provides resources and support for autism parents through her blog, Sailing Autistic Seas and her support group, Bronx Parents Autism Support Circle. Kpana lives in New York City with her husband and only child, six-year old "Angel" who is conquering autism one milestone at a time.

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Stop the Sugarcoating: Child Sex Abuse is Not a Love Story

BY: - 13 Aug '14 | Parenting

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by Kathy Butler,

The truth of what child sex abuse is and what it looks like has been missed because the packaging of this crime has been neatly wrapped and presented in a false light. Whether this is done intentionally by some or subconsciously by others, I am not sure. But, I am clear on one thing…it has to stop! If we are ever going to make a dent in the crusade to end this epidemic, we must call a crime a crime.

Everyday there are articles in the newspaper about men and women who have sexually abused kids; be it a teacher, a neighbor, or a so-called boyfriend or girlfriend. The headlines are often very similar – “Teacher caught in a sexual relationship with teenage student,” “Prominent executive accused of having sexual tryst with minor,” “Clergyman involved in inappropriate sexual relationship with 14-year-old boy.” On any given day, you can browse the internet and find one of these heart wrenching stories that causes you to question the humanity of those carrying out these heinous crimes against children. But…have you ever stopped to ask yourself why these headlines give the appearance that this was some romantic tryst among two consenting individuals? Does it seem even remotely rational to suggest that the interaction between a 35-year-old woman and a 14-year-old boy could seriously be considered a lovers’ rendezvous? Does the physical penetration of a 12-year-old girl by a man twice or three times her age make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Do you see the actions of a clergyman against a pubescent teenager who doesn’t feel safe enough to tell what is being done to them as a consensual sexual love affair? I mean, really? Is that what you interpret these details to mean?

Well here is the problem with the media and news outlets. They spend an awful lot of time writing and reporting these stories in such a way that people will watch them and read them and yet not be so sickened that they close the browser window, change the channel, or toss the entire newspaper in the trash and declare that they don’t want to watch the news or read the newspaper because it’s too depressing. We, as consumers, are literally being told how to feel about something as sick and repulsive as child sex abuse. And, because we often prefer a feel good piece over the truth, we allow ourselves to believe a child was actually involved in a “relationship” instead of concluding that a child was raped, sodomized, and mentally scarred by a sexual deviant.

In a tweet by the Philly Inquirer, a teacher was said to have given a 14-year-old student “special attention.” The Inquirer later came back and apologized for this gross misrepresentation of sexual abuse. In yet another incident, a gym teacher was reported as being involved in a “year-long tryst” with a 16-year-old boy and “bedded another student.” These stories are disseminated EVERYDAY and flagrantly romanticized as though these children not only willingly participated, but the writer would also have us to believe that the child possessed the cognitive ability to function in the mental and emotional complexities that accompany a sexual encounter! What 8, 10, 12, 14, 16-year-old child do you know who is truly prepared and capable of being in a “relationship”? If the truth be told, most of us who are 20, 30, and 40+ struggle with the mental and emotional aspect of relationships, so why is the media so comfortable characterizing these crimes as trysts, relationships, and sexual encounters?

WAKE UP!! Stop believing the lie! These are not love stories. They are stories of rape, molestation, trafficking, and abuse! We cannot allow others to re-label these crimes to make them more palatable because in doing so, we don’t pursue the crusade to end this epidemic with the fervor and vigilance that it demands.  Instead, we must push for harsher sentences involving crimes against children and vote out judges and lawmakers who are soft on those who commit these crimes. Failure to do these things is a sign of a severe case of apathy within our society and we subconsciously give the pedophile license to offend again because we fail to characterize their action as monstrous and worthy of the ultimate punishment.  Moreover, the inclination to romanticize sex crimes against children cause people to reframe these heinous acts as a lapse in judgment or poor behavior choices on the part of the pedophile instead of an insatiable deviant sexual desire in someone who cannot be rehabilitated during the average (3-8 years) prison sentence for a sex crime.

I implore you not to allow yourself to be sucked in by the media cycle and see these headlines for what they are….stories of sex crimes against children. There is nothing romantic about rape and sexual abuse, and the child is definitely not going to remember it as the warm and tingly moment of one’s first kiss or crush. These experiences cause serious trauma that can take a lifetime to heal, and will always be regarded by the child as the time in his/her life when they wished someone could see what was happening to them and come to their rescue and protect them like every child deserves.

Kathy Butler blogs at comfortinthestorm.com, a forum for the parents of child sex abuse survivors and survivors themselves. Kathy and her family chronicle their experiences following their daughter’s disclosure of being sexually abused by a family member. She also provides child sex abuse awareness and prevention tips for parents and all those concerned about the well-being of children everywhere. Connect with her on Facebook: Comfort In The Storm & Twitter: comfortndstorm Email: comfortinthestormblog@gmail.com

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