TIPS FOR THE NEW YEAR FROM ALP!
We all know the deal, at the end of the year we have high hopes to get in shape, find a better job, eat healthy. If you’re a parent, your resolutions tend to be more about the children than yourself but for parents of children with special needs, there are a few exceptions.
Here are some ideas on how to do both:
Make sure you have a good support system to give you time for yourself
Find a caregiver that understand your family and the needs of your children so you have time for yourself to workout, go to the store or a night out with your significant other or friends. This will allow you to refresh and will make you a better parent.
Organize your paperwork
When you have a child with special needs you have a large file of paperwork including the official diagnosis, school information (IEP’s, medical paperwork) to transition plans. Make sure you have a file that is easy to find and in order. This will ensure that you will have it when you need it.
Experience new things
We all know that following a schedule is important for children and families living with autism. With that, we tend to do the same, either because they are reluctant to try new ones or because we feel we just don’t have time. If you can, try to find new activities for the entire family to enjoy together. This is not only fun but participating in activities often provides opportunities to practice social skills, get physical and be part of the community.
Do something for yourself
You don’t have to be a special needs parent to feel guilty about putting you needs first every once in a while. You can’t be a good parent if you are tired and have no energy. Know when you are at your wits’ end and do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Ask for help, do something you enjoy and then get back to being a parent.
When you are parents of child with autism your marriage is truly put to the test, with 64% of couples end in divorce. You must make time for each other to talk and support one another. Go out to dinner, take a walk, go to the movies. Just take the time to love one another and remember why you fell in love!
Stay away from the internet
The internet can be a horrible place for special needs parents, especially if your child is newly diagnosed. There is so much information out there that can not only confuse you but can also do more harm than good. There are a few great resources out there but talk to your medical team to find out what they recommend.
Get more sleep
Sleep! Parents with special needs children have a lot of stress. All parents deal with day to day issues but when you have a child with autism on a scale from 1-10 they are at 30. You have to rest and take care of yourself so you can be the ama
Make your transition plan NOW!
Parents need to not only think about the issues your child is dealing with now but what happens when your child reaches 22 and ages out of the system. There are programs and transitional programs depending on the needs of your child to help them go to college, get a job, go to the grocery store and be part of the community.
Find a support group
Everyone needs a group of other parents who “get it.” When my oldest was born, I joined a group of first-time moms. We met regularly to hear speakers talk about pertinent issues. Those speakers were great, but the best part of the group was getting to know other moms who were parenting babies of the same age. We shared our successes and failures, as well as information and advice.
Today, some of my favorite people are the special needs moms I get to see regularly or who are a click away in a private Facebook group. We support each other. We laugh and cry together, and we troubleshoot when one of our kids is having an issue. Having these moms to turn to keeps me sane.
Don’t apologize for your special needs kid
You know you’re doing the best you can, and your child is doing their best, too. Most of the time you’ll find that no apology is necessary.
Here’s to bringing the best to you and your family. And, may your resolutions last beyond the end of January.