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Understanding mental wellbeing of parents of children with autism

Parenting is a multifaceted role that requires constant alertness on the part of parents. Taking care of children with autism requires some more involvement from the parents. Caring for a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disorders may include a number of challenges. This can cause stress and affect the mental and physical health of parents.

For most parents, caregivers, the wellbeing of their kids comes first, this causes them to ignore their own needs. Constant state of worrying, caring, making decisions can be stressful if there are no breaks or help at hand.

Taking the children to therapy, feeding them, medication, keeping them healthy and safe while managing their sensory issues are some of the many things parents do everyday.

Parents can get super stressed after a while and although they may not realize it, it does affect their own health negatively. Mental stress can cause more serious health issues and should not be ignored. Depression, anxiety or other psychological issues may come into the picture.

Sumathi, a parent says that parent of children with intellectual disabilities can get tense at times but they need to adapt coping strategies.

At times the children are not able to respond the way parents want them to and this should be dealt with patience. Instead of shouting or overreacting, it is better to let go and not over think at that moment. I personally think that positive thoughts and calming routines such as yoga helps a lot. If I am not able to take out a lot of time, I sit for a few minutes by myself not doing anything and that relaxes me. Listening to music is a great way to distress and can calm the children as well. Sumathi, a parent

Here are a few things consider:

  1. Taking care of children with autism requires mental and physical stamina.

  2. Parents of children with autism tend to put in more time and energy in taking care of kids, this can lead to both mental and physical fatigue.

  3. Happy and healthy parents can provide better care to children.

  4. Parents should look after their own health to be able to provide quality care to their kids.

  5. Accepting the facts about life with autism can help move forward.

  6. Seeking help from friends and family when you need a break is a great idea.

  7. Spending some alone time, exercising, mediation etc. can help release stress.

  8. Music, singing, reading, writing or taking out time for a hobby works wonder.

  9. Joining parent support groups can also bring a positive change and also aid in child care in some practical ways.

  10. Couple should not hide their thoughts or feelings. Communicating and understanding each other can relive stress and negativity from life.

Archana Devi is a parent and feels that parents of children with autism face a lot of stress and fatigue.

"Parents forget to look after themselves due to the busy schedule when they are caring for child with autism. Every child with autism is different and requires different types of cares. The pressure of not being able to do enough and the guilt can take a toll on the parents. Meeting and talking to other parents can help a lot and provide the opportunity to socialize and share experiences," she says.

There are a many things that parents try to do for their children and not being able to perform everything well is an added pressure. Parents should be kind to themselves and not be harsh judges.

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