Self Care as a Special Needs Parent

Card image cap

Parenting may be challenging even in the best of circumstances, but parents of children with developmental and mental health issues typically face a particular kind of strain.

Being a parent of a disabled child comes with its own set of challenges, pressures, and benefits. It necessitates a higher level of emotional fortitude, tenacity, and resourcefulness.

Parents of children with physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder, often face profound social and systemic prejudices. It draws from the same (or even stronger) desire to nurture, protect, and empower these parents as normatively able. When these invisible hurdles go unnoticed, they can be even more painful.

Caring for a special-needs child may quickly become a full-time job — and a stressful one if you don’t have the right resources. Parents may be on the verge of caregiver burnout if they don’t get enough aid, negatively impacting everyone.

What is Self Care?

Self-care refers to the steps that a person can take to achieve optimal physical and mental health. Self-care is a phrase used by mental health specialists to describe one’s ability to perform activities of daily living, or ADLs (Activities of daily living). Daily activities span from feeding oneself to washing, brushing one’s teeth, dressing correctly, and attending to medical problems.

Self-care can also refer to activities such as meditation, journaling, or visiting a counselor that an individual engages in to relax or achieve emotional well-being. Individuals who find themselves unable to care for their own needs may find it beneficial to consult with a therapist. An extended inability to care for one’s own needs can result in illness or hospitalization.

According to Kelsey Patel, a Los Angeles-based wellness expert and author of the upcoming book Burning Bright: Rituals, Reiki, and Self-Care to Heal Burnout, Anxiety, and Stress, self-care is part of the solution to how you can all cope better with daily challenges.

Tips for Parents

  • Exercise and Have a Balanced Diet

Exercise has numerous advantages, not only for our physical health, but also for our mental and emotional well-being. Exercise does not imply that you must attend a gym and engage in aerobic activities all day. Being healthy does not mean that you must eat only fruits and vegetables all day. It’s all about striking the right balance.

If you’re leaving your child off at school in the morning, take a brief walk afterward. Go to the store and select some excellent, fresh fruits and veggies. Do sports with your youngsters if they are active. You can play frisbee in the park or join them in the playground.

Our bodies can be moved in a variety of ways. It will be even more enjoyable if we do this with our children. Play with them, move around with them, and keep them active.

  • Have Your Extra Time to Do What You Enjoy

The demands of being a parent are truly endless. Everything takes time, from getting up to putting your child to sleep, which can be exhausting. You should get some rest. Everyone requires rest to face the challenges of tomorrow with greater vigor and strength.

It doesn’t have to be an out-of-country trip or a whole day at the spa to have an additional minute to do what you enjoy.

Do you enjoy taking pictures? Take a few moments to pause, grab your camera, and capture some memories. Are you a coffee drinker? Every morning, have your favorite coffee. These small gestures will help you disconnect from your caregiving routine and recharge your batteries.

  • Have a Support System 

Raising a child with special needs is a demanding task, and having a support structure in place may be pretty beneficial to a special-needs family.

It is preferable to be part of a community where you can share your experiences, empathize with others, and form bonds. It is acceptable to seek assistance. It’s OK to tell your stories. Being a special needs parent is difficult, but that is good.

Final Thoughts

Parents who are the primary caregivers for children with special needs are in danger of burnout, especially if they do not receive adequate assistance.

Physical hazards, such as heart disease and diabetes, might arise from the ongoing stress of caring for a specially-needed child.

Parents must look after their personal needs to avoid burnout. It involves getting enough rest and exercise, as well as consuming plenty of water and spending time away from your child. To learn more, contact My Autism Support.

Get updates