“I have one 6 year old son with autism (nonverbal, mod-severe), and I am constantly feeling fatigued, burned out, and worried about the future. I have no support from family on either side. I’m trying to decide what decisions to make regarding work and school, and life balance is hard. The house is always a mess since I went back to work. Even though I work from home. I bare the burden of the mental load of the family and the physical load of the housekeeping and it is getting so heavy.”
Does this sound familiar?
This is a mom on Reddit who shared the struggle it is to be a working parent with no family support, all while trying to love and care for her child with autism.
Unfortunately, moms with children who have autism can frequently relate to the feeling described by this mother. Caring for children with disabilities is a rewarding challenge that can feel like a burden at times.
6 Tips to Avoid Burnout
Luckily there are ways to avoid this burnout. It may not happen overnight, but feeling better and more energized begins with small steps. Here are 6 tips to avoid burnout for you to consider:
1. Seek Support in the Autism Community
Having a child with autism can feel isolating for parents, so reaching out for help and support is important to lift a sometimes heavy burden. Kids On The Move is an organization that offers early intervention services to help children with autism reach their developmental milestones. These services encompass various therapies, including speech, occupational, and physical therapy, tailored to each child’s specific needs. By providing early support, parents can learn effective strategies to assist their children’s growth and development. This support can help moms feel less alone and see that there are resources available to help not only their children, but themselves, as well.
2. Prioritize Yourself
Caring for others so much can cause moms to forget to take care of themselves. Take a few hours to do something you love! To alleviate some of the stress parents experience from the challenges of autism, Kids On The Move offers respite care services. Trained caregivers provide temporary relief to parents, giving them the opportunity to rest, recharge, and engage in self-care activities.
3. Plan Activities for Your Child
Planning activities allows moms to anticipate potential challenges and triggers for their children. By proactively addressing these issues, moms can create a calmer and more comfortable environment, which benefits both the child and the mom. Reduced stress and anxiety in the child can lead to a more peaceful and manageable atmosphere for the mom.
4. Take Part in Sensory Activities
Sensory activities aren’t just for children with autism! They are great for all ages. Engaging in sensory activities requires a certain level of mindfulness. This practice of being fully present in the moment can be meditative and help moms temporarily set aside their worries and stressors.
5. Break Tasks Into Manageable Steps
Break down daily tasks into smaller, manageable steps. This can make tasks feel less overwhelming and help you maintain a sense of accomplishment. A part of feeling burnt out comes from feeling like there is too much to do and never enough time. Seeing giant tasks can make people not even want to start them. Breaking down the task into smaller steps can help parents feel like they can accomplish what’s in front of them.
6. Get Professional Help
Moms should consider seeking professional support from therapists, counselors, or support groups if they truly don’t know how to process their emotions related to having a child with autism. A mental health professional can help navigate feelings and provide coping strategies so parents can begin to feel better and make progress.
It is okay to feel overwhelmed and burnt out from taking care of a child with autism. Everyone needs breaks and time to rejuvenate. Consider the 5 tips discussed in this article if you’re feeling burnout and see how they can help you.
And remember, you can do this!