Why Autism Parents Need to be in it for the Long Haul

BY: - 11 Nov '14 | Parenting

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Facing Autism on BMWK

There is no cure for autism. I just want to put this out there because every other week we hear about a new cause or correlation between autism and everything from c-sections to maternal age. Since my son Angel’s diagnosis is not going away, all I can do is try to level the playing field for him as much as possible. This means that I need to treat my parenting journey as a marathon and not a sprint.

There is nothing more sobering than seeing a father holding onto his grown autistic son’s hand as they cross the street. Why? Because he knows what will happen if he doesn’t. Yes my friends, our kids will still need us as they get older. I am not saying that typically developing kids do not need their parents when they get older. I know I still need my mom. The truth is, some of our kids with autism will always need assistance with toileting. Some of our kids will always need to live at home. Some of our kids may never speak. Some of our kids may develop aggressive behaviors. Some of our kids will always need additional care. Where does this leave us as caregivers? How can we strengthen ourselves for the long haul?

I am not going to act as if I know all the answers. I am learning as I go. Angel is my only child and we all know that when our children are diagnosed with autism, we are left on our own to “wing it.” Over the years I have learned that if I learn the system and use the system as it was designed, I can make our lives somewhat easier.

This means making sure that Angel has the support services he needs. This means giving him a chance to still be a kid and not bombard every waking moment of his life with therapies. This means making sure he is in the right educational program. This means giving him 100% always.

It can be tough. I have had my days of frustration. Those days when calls are not returned and balls are dropped because someone I depended on did not do their job. Still, Angel is my son and if I do not get in the trenches and work, he will be left in the cold.

I have my moments when I feel vulnerable and I cry. It happens at the times I least expect. Like last week when Angel and I were waiting at a clinic for him to have an evaluation. As I looked around me, I saw so many older caregivers with young adults in the waiting room. The caregivers had a look of fatigue in their eyes. Yet I could tell that they were dedicated. Tears welled up in my eyes because I was looking at a situation in real time – that could be me one day. Tears welled up in my eyes because the uncertainty of our future hit me like a tidal wave. Still I refuse to give up. The marathon continues…

BMWK: What is your tried and true tip for caring for a loved one on the autism spectrum? 

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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One Amazingly Critical Thing Parents Need to Do

BY: - 12 Nov '14 | Parenting

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Our children want to be like us. Even if we don’t have it all together, they look at our lives, see how we live them, and often decide that they want the same. We are the people they admire most in the world. We serve as their model for what life after childhood can be like.

And as parents, we do our best to expose our little ones to opportunities that can help them create the best possible lives. We want them to have the best experiences and the very best education. And even if our resources are limited, we hustle to give them access to anything that can make life for them a little bit better than it was for us. Indeed, we try to give them everything they need to become happy, well-adjusted adults.

There is one huge problem, though, with what so many of us are doing. We are solely focused on their experience, forgetting the fact that at a young age, they are greatly focused on ours. They look to see if we are happy. They wonder why our days leave us feeling drained and unfulfilled. They grow concerned about what causes us stress and prevents us from being present when we are around them. And as they grow up and gain some life experience, they are baffled by why we are not pursuing our dream—why we are focused only on their happiness and rarely on our own.

As parents, we typically have the best intentions, but we all must know that intentions and actions are very different. We may intend for our kids to have the best, but fail to realize that letting our own dreams fall by the wayside sets a damaging example. Now of course, despite neglecting your own passions, your kids will grow up to immensely appreciate every sacrifice your made for them. But they will also grow up without an example of what it means to honor the passion you have within. They need to know that you didn’t neglect your dreams to raise them. They need to know that they inspired you to create a happy life, which means pursuing your dreams.

As parents we need to stop looking at our entire parenting journey as a season of sacrifice.

Of course, sacrifices must be made—that certainly is a part of the journey. But the journey itself is not one big sacrifice. The journey should be filled with joy, laughter and the pursuit of your personal dreams. The journey should be used as an opportunity to show your children that you didn’t let the passion within you die because of parenthood. Rather, you let parenthood ignite your passion in an effort to show your kids that anything is possible.

By doing this one thing—keeping your dreams alive—you are impacting your children in such a profound way. We have to stop making excuses. We have to realize that the struggle is real, but if we focus on what we are truly capable of doing and go for it, the struggle will pay off. Our kids will see that and love us deeply for for showing them how much is possible.

 BMWK family, will your children be able to say you lived your dreams? 

About the author

Martine Foreman wrote 494 articles on this blog.

Martine Foreman is a speaker, writer, lifestyle consultant, and ACE-certified Health Coach who specializes in helping moms who want more out of life but feel overwhelmed and confused. Through her content and services, Martine is committed to helping women embrace their personal truth, gain clarity, and take action to create healthier, happier lives. For more on Martine's candid views on life and love, visit her at candidbelle.com. To work with her, visit her at martineforeman.com. Martine resides in Maryland with her husband, two kids and sassy cat Pepper.

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