Isolation in Parents of children with autism
Let's talk about the hardest part of being an Autism parent...
It's not the meltdowns or picky eaters. It is the isolation that so many of us live with. I know this feeling all too well. When Ryley had her first major regression, it was the hardest time of my life. We did not have a diagnosis at that time. She could not speak, and screamed most of the day. Taking her out of the house was extremely hard. All she did was scream and try to run. I now know that this was her telling me she was in sensory overload. She could only handle our home and the strict routine we gave her.
So in order to protect her, I stopped taking her to places. I even stopped going out because I could not leave her. When I go anywhere, it caused a meltdown. Finally, she got a diagnosis of sensory processing disorder and her doctor said it may be autism. Then, we got support from a case worker and a team of therapists. After months of work, her therapist got her to go to Target and small play center. Other than places like that, we did not go out much. It put a strain on my marriage and with our other kids. They wanted a normal life back.
So we called a team meeting and made our isolation a priority.
Her speech therapist did visual cues for places we may go. We used those to let her know we were going out and where we were going. Her behavioral therapist met us at various places to work on being in public. While we were in public, she was amazing at helping me learn tools like headphones and a weighted backpack to calm her. We then decided she was almost 3 and needed preschool. Our special needs preschool would not accept her without an autism diagnosis. So we found a small preschool where a teacher was a special needs foster mom. That program really helped her. And it finally gave me a chance to be me.
So what do you do if this were you? First speak with your support team (doctors, therapists, and family that help). See if you can all make a plan to reduce isolation and get a moment to yourself. Speak to your own doctor because isolation often can lead to depression. You can also join our Ask An Autism Parents Support Group. We will love and support you.