I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a support network as a special needs parent. I could say this until I’m blue in the face and still not have said it enough. But why? Why is it so important? And what if you don’t have that in place? We are often told that it takes a village to raise a child, but what if you don’t have that village? Here’s how to find or build your support village as an autism mom.
What do I do if I can’t find my village as an autism mom?
One of the things I’d wish I’d know about parenting an autistic child was just how isolating this can be. Because, let’s be honest, we talk about the good things. We talk about the bad things. But, we don’t always talk about the isolation of special needs parenting.
Yes, it’s a difficult topic.
No, not everyone will go through it.
But, for those of us that do? This is downright disheartening.
Not just within the autism parenting community, but the special needs parenting community in general.
I have been in a few special needs parenting groups where the disdain was shown towards moms of autistic children because they were making the group all about autism.
I have been in a few autism parenting groups where the disdain was shown towards moms of “higher functioning” children on the spectrum.
I admit, I may even do it here.
I have an adult child with special needs and I have a teenager on the autism spectrum. My youngest is on the gifted side, so while she may not have the developmental disabilities like her older siblings, she does have high needs. And yet, I do not talk about my oldest or my youngest too much. I’m working my way towards that.
How do I build a support village as an autism mom?
If you can’t find your village, you may have to build it yourself.
But how? How do you possibly build a support network as a special needs parent?
More importantly, how do you invite them to be a part of your time?
It starts with open and honest communication.
Start with those closest to you
- Your spouse or partner
- Your parents
- Your siblings or cousins
- Your closest friends
Understand that they may not always understand what you are going through. But just let them know that you will need them to be there for you. This is especially important with your partner or significant other. Make sure that you are on the same page and share the burdens. Share the heavy load. Voice your worries and your concerns. And just as importantly? Listen to your partner or significant other when they are voicing their concerns and voicing their worries.
Beyond this close circle, start with these:
- A professional counselor or therapist
- parent support groups
- national or local support groups
- online support groups like Autism Family Life (my support group for parents and caregivers of children with autism)