Raising a child with special needs can be lonely.
When a child first receives their diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), extended family and friends will often reach out with good intentions and offers of support. However, as time goes on you may see those relationships strained and family members and friends become more distant.
Family and friends may not fully understand your child’s diagnosis and needs. And raising a child with autism can feel like a full-time job, leaving little time for much else. Depending on your child’s specific needs, your child may be limited in the places they can go or the activities they can do.
All of this can lead to a feeling of isolation and loneliness.
However, it is important to remember that you are not alone and to take the necessary steps to combat those feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Ways to Overcome Loneliness as a Parent of a Child with Autism
- Join a support group for parents of kids with autism or special needs. You can do this online or in-person, but no matter which route you choose, this is a great way to connect with other parents who “get it.” The following California support groups offer both in-person and online options – find one in your area below:
- Start a hobby. Many loving, devoted parents—whether their children are typically developing or have special needs—can find themselves so entrenched in caring for their child(ren) that they lose themselves in the process. “Mom” or “Dad” becomes their identity, and though parenting is a significant part of life, allowing it to become all-consuming isn’t healthy for parents or their children. Engaging in a hobby or activity that is just for you is essential for better mental health and reducing feelings of isolation.
- Search for autism-friendly events in your area so your child does not feel isolated as well. Your child’s therapists or teachers are excellent sources for these events. Parents living in Orange County can check out AUsome Sauce for events! These events are also great opportunities for you to meet other parents with children on the autism spectrum.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to accept help when it’s offered. You are human and can only accomplish so much. Don’t be afraid to lean on others and ask for support when you need it. Family and friends around you may want to help, but not know how. Communicate your needs with loved ones. Let them in and let them support you.
- Practice self-care. To be the best parent you can be for your child you must make sure you are taking care of yourself too. This can mean taking time to work out, scheduling a lunch date with your best friend once a month, maintaining date night with your significant other, or just taking a warm bath in the evening. Not sure where to start, our friends over at Beaming Health have some great tips for self-care as a special needs parent.
Parenting a child with special needs is an extraordinary undertaking. Forging new bonds with others in similar circumstances is essential to your overall well-being and longevity. Even the best parents cannot do it alone.