How You Can Reduce Your Stress (and your child’s stress) Levels
This past week, I presented a webinar called, ‘Ten Tips to Reduce Parental Stress.’
It felt absolutely wonderful to connect with fellow parents.
I was able to share my heart out, knowing they experienced so much of what I had experienced with Mohit.
Autism affects the entire family. It has an impact on the parents, on siblings. Each family member has to be taken care of in the early crucial years.
I learned this late in my life. I was on an intensive program, where the emphasis was solely on Mohit and his behavioral excesses and deficits including language.
When Mo was 17, we found RDI.
The emphasis shifted to the family, including Mohit. Our time was then divided into Me Time, Us time, Sibling time along with time spent with Mohit,
I’m glad I made the switch and changed my lifestyle.
I’d like to share 3 additional points from the webinar.
1. Did you know that parental stress levels are similar to that of combat soldiers?
Stress can take the form of anxiety, depression, weight gain, mood swings, sleep issues etc.
It’s absolutely alright to get counseling sessions for yourself.
Spend some time cultivating your own hobbies. You may enjoy cooking, baking, knitting, reading. How long was it since you pursued any of these?
Don’t forget ‘Us time’ (time with spouse) and Family Time ( time with all family members).
2. Are you in crisis?
Dr Steve Gutstein of RDIConnect, asks the following questions.
• You feel like you are operating in day-to-day survival mode
• You feel unable to take a step back to obtain a larger perspective.
• You have narrowed your focus and expend all of your energy putting out fires and reacting to immediate problems.
• You are functioning at a frantic pace that leaves you unable to productively reflect, or consider the future
• You often feel physically and mentally exhausted
• You sometimes feel desperate, willing to try anything and everything.
• You have become fearful of change – afraid of rocking the boat in any manner.
I received a heart felt response to this, from a mother.
The symptoms given don’t seem like symptoms at all.It is the life we are leading in fact forgotten what normal life could be!! Slowly you start loosing normalcy and stepping up for child “needs “ becomes so contingent that it becomes a way of life , And sadly , in this all you loose all connection with your child.this is the weird order that is happening. We really need something to turn things around.
– A Concerned Mother
3. Are you giving your power away?
As a parent, you know your child the best.
Yes, by all means get help, training. But empower yourself. Don’t leave it to therapists to do your work.
My professional colleagues also suggest that parents take a more pro active role in the child’s life. With parent/ professional team work, the sky is the limit.
My friend Lori, shares a deeper, spiritual aspect to this equation.
“Parents have therapists come in their house and tell them what to do. They give their power away. Parents need to focus on healing and empowering themselves. They must shift their beliefs about autism. Once the parent knows who they are the child will respond.”
Be the ‘Calm’ your child needs.
1. Become aware of your stress levels
2. Understand you may be operating in crisis mode
3. Don’t give your power away
Once you work on these, your child will be much more regulated too.
Take responsibility. You are the best guide for your child. Your child’s possibilities are limitless.
And finally I would like to end with a quote from Dr Gutstein.
I think it can be hard when parents hear the diagnosis of autism because it can interfere with the dreams they had for their child. Suddenly, all of the dreams like, “She will be the president of a company, and he will… ” whatever. Whatever those dreams were, now they don’t have them anymore. And once they’ve given up those dreams, it can be very hard to go back and recapture them or to think of a new dream. When we talk about believing in one’s child, and believing that we can get the child where he’s going to be, to reach his potential, we’re not talking about pie in the sky, and we’re not pretending. We’re not saying, “If we wish, it will come true.” It’s not like that. We really have this belief that the sky is the limit when it comes to the potential our children have.
-Dr Steven Gutstein
Do not give up- ever!
I have just shared 3 points from my webinar with you.
If you’d like the pdf of the presentation, do reach out @firstname.lastname@example.org
Kamini Lakhani is the founder and director of SAI Connections. She has been providing services in the field of autism for more than 25 years and is the authorized director of Professional Training for RDI in India and the Middle East. She is also the mother of a young adult with autism.