Autism Mom, Are You Lonely?
Have you ever had someone exclaim, “I don’t know how you do it!”? Or a friend says, “Wow, you’re Wonder Woman!” and you’re both thankful they recognize you battle a lot of things but you also blush a little, thinking, “What else am I supposed to do?”
While you’re thankful for the acknowledgment of your hard work, you think of the secret challenges you face. The things others don’t notice or know about. Things like financial strain because of therapies you need to pay for, bone-deep exhaustion because your child doesn’t sleep, and aching loneliness.
Are you lonely, autism mom?
You’re not alone.
It’s not unusual for feelings of loneliness to suffocate special needs moms. They may be lonely because they do most of the work for their child while a spouse works outside the home to pay for expenses. Or, they are lonely because they do it all completely–there is no spouse. Loneliness comes when autism moms realize they have few people who can understand what they’re facing. Sadly, isolation sometimes comes from experiences where people have blatantly made it clear a child with autism is not welcome. The list could go on, but instead of wallowing in loneliness and thinking of more reasons to be sad, let’s think of what to do to help the situation because we all know how important it is for us to live life with a tribe of people who get it.
What’s a lonely autism mom to do?
- Connect with other autism and special needs parents online. This is an important tip from Superhero’s Guide to Special Needs Parenting: Quick Tips to Help You & Your Child Soar (click for your FREE copy!). Though there are other things you can do as well, online connections are the quickest, especially if you’re on Facebook. You may not be able to find other autism moms in your area, but you can quickly do a search on Facebook or Google to find groups of women facing similar challenges and who have children with the same diagnoses as your child. These women can cheer you on and lift you up and you can reciprocate. Look for groups without drama. Don’t be afraid to try a group and leave if it’s not a good fit. Need a place to start? Try Special Needs Moms Network. If you’re a homeschooling autism mom, look at Special Needs Homeschooling. In addition to joining groups, search hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to make instant connections. Look for #specialneedsparenting, #autism, #autismmom, #specialneeds, #autismland, etc. If your child has other diagnoses in addition to autism, use the diagnosis as a hashtag and you’ll discover other people discussing that topic.
- Connect with other autism parents in your area. If you are able to get together with other autism parents in person, your whole world may change. There is nothing like sitting across the table from another autism mom who squeezes your hand when you tell her about the last outing that turned into a debacle. Other moms and dads who get it are indeed priceless! Search online, ask state and local agencies, consult with a doctor’s office or library to see if there is a group near you. If you look and look and cannot find one, consider creating your own! You never know how many lives you could impact by starting an in-person support group.
- Connect with other people’s stories. Books, movies, podcasts, and blogs all offer another way to see that you’re not alone. Sometimes you just need the catharsis of reading a novel or sitting through a movie that illustrates your life. For example, watch a single autism mom face huge challenges in the made-for-TV movie Miracle Run. Read non-fiction books like The Life We Never Expected. And check out novels such as House Rules when you want to know that someone else has been in your shoes. Also, be sure you’re subscribed to this blog so you don’t miss Penny’s great insight and tips.
The nature of autism parenting brings loneliness, and it will never all go away. However, when you use these three suggestions, hopefully, it will minimize. By connecting with others in real life and online, by observing what others have gone through, you will discover that you, dear autism mom, are not alone.
What is one way you can connect with other autism parents today? Leave a comment!
Jenny Herman wants to live in a world where dark chocolate dispensers reside on every corner. As a homeschooling special needs mom, she’s been featured in Autism Parenting Magazine, Wit and Wisdom from the Parents of Special Needs Kids: Mostly True Stories of Life on the Spectrum, and various blogs. If she survives the onslaught of testosterone in her home, she may take a moment to blog, read a book, try a new recipe, or loom knit a gift. You can find Jenny’s book The Power of One: Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life at Amazon. Discover her tips for special needs parenting, hands-on homeschooling, and pressing on at jennyherman.com.