Time Management for Parents of Kids with Autism
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Children are precious gifts that bring great joy and help give life meaning. But, at the same time, every loving parent knows that having their beautiful little ones also means more responsibilities, less rest, and fewer vacations. And it can even become much more challenging if you have a child with autism.
Children with ASD or autism spectrum disorder perceive the world differently from most people. As a result, they find it difficult to communicate and interact with other people, necessitating extra attention and guidance.
Autism levels also vary. Some kids can function with some supervision, while others are more highly dependent on their caregivers. But, regardless of where they fall on the autism spectrum, they all require support. And this can be draining even for the most generous and energetic of parents. So, in this article, we’d like to share some practical tips that can help you manage your time better to stay physically and mentally healthy for yourself and your loved one with ASD.
Time Hacks for Parents with Children in the Spectrum
1. Don’t say yes to everything
In short, don’t overcommit. Like most parents with kids who have autism, you may feel like your 24 hours each day is never enough. So why should you be careless about saying yes to every birthday invitation, reunion, and family outing? Stephen Covey, an American educator and inspirational speaker, popularized the “Big Rocks” analogy to help individuals get their priorities right. Imagine a jar and some large and small rocks in front of you. Put the smaller stones inside the jar, and then put in the big ones. You’ll realize that all the little pebbles have filled up the jar, leaving no room for the rest.
Now do the reverse. Put the larger rocks in before the smaller ones. You’ll discover that they can all fit inside the jar because the smaller ones are able to work around the bigger rocks.
If you make first things first, you may find that you can deal with your less-important tasks more effectively. Or better yet, you may even discover that many to-dos don’t deserve any of your time and energy, freeing you up for more productive things and allowing you the much-needed downtime.
2. Create a feasible schedule and stick to it.
When you have a child with autism, it becomes even more critical to set a schedule and stick to it. Of course, there may be unforeseen circumstances beyond your control. But in general, when you follow through on your plan, you may find that it helps a great deal in time management.
Don’t set yourself up for failure and disappointment by setting an overly rigid schedule. Plot the upcoming events that you 100% feel would be important to attend (know why you’re going in the first place!). Think of possible scenarios that may come up so you can make the necessary preparations prior to the activity or affair. Do note that you may also need time for these preps. Try not to fill your schedule to the brim to allow some flexibility without disrupting your plans.
As to regular routines, keeping a consistent daily or even weekly plan can help you map out the use of your time more effectively. Not accomplishing what you originally intended to do at a certain hour means that you’ll need to bump that task or project down to a later time during the day or week. This will require moving your schedule around. Frequent changes can throw you off your daily rhythm, and it can also be difficult for your child, who may typically find routine shifts stressful.
3. Wake up extra, extra early.
It’s usual for parents of any child to wake up earlier than the rest of the family. This helps them do the necessary preparations for everyone else to jumpstart their day. However, when you’re raising a kid with autism, getting up extra, extra early can be critical in getting you a handle on your day.
A few hours can be highly valuable in setting you up nice and bright for the challenges ahead. You can use this alone time to pray, meditate, exercise, or have a little coffee moment before you launch into the day. You can also work on certain tasks you may otherwise find difficult to attend to when your child is around. Those precious moments can also help ease you into the day, helping you feel more in control.
4. Don’t hesitate to use your support network.
Remember that you need not wing it alone. It takes a village to raise a child, especially if one has high support needs requiring full-time attention. Willing and able family and friends can help give you some respite by pitching in from time to time. This will help sustain your strength and the quality of care you provide your beloved child as their primary caregiver.
Involving others in the care of your kid with an autism spectrum condition means more opportunities to develop their social skills and gradually develop relationships with people other than yourself.
5. Leverage professional services.
Many high-quality treatments and intervention services can reduce ASD interference with daily routines and your overall quality of life. From behavioral, developmental, and educational to social-relational, pharmacological, and psychological, many approaches can help improve your child’s mental and emotional health.
Marker is one such platform that provides a modern approach to assisting children with learning disabilities. They believe everyone should have access to the learning support they need to succeed. Their board-certified psychologists identify each learner’s precise learning needs and provide clear diagnoses, such as ADHD assessments and documentation for school or work accommodations, IEP, or 504 plans. Get a free consultation with a learning disability specialist at Marker today.
Article by Regi Publico