Time magazine posted a great article online by Barbara Cain titled, ‘Autism’s Invisible Victims: The Siblings’. Cain speaks about the taxing role of being a sibling to a child with autism, and the endurance siblings need to cope with such a complex disorder. Although Cain highlights the role of sibling can lead to positive outcomes as well, she emphasizes the importance in recognizing that autism is not just an individual condition, but a condition that effects an entire family. The entire family deals with autism, and the entire family needs support.
I would like to reiterate how important it is for parents to find support for themselves as well. Parents of children with multiple barriers are the most self-sacrificing individuals, and because of this they are likely to disregard their own needs for support, for the needs of their children. It is important for parents to remember that their needs for support and self-care are essential for providing the best care for their children. Think about this: When are you more likely to get irritated and yell at your child? When you are tired? Or when you are feeling refreshed? I am guessing this is an easy answer. How you feel and the care you take for yourself will reflect in the relationship and care you provide your child. Whether it means taking an hour out of your day to do something you enjoy, like reading a book or going for a walk, or spending an hour talking to a supportive friend, self-care should not be neglected.
Vanessa Lemminger, M.A., LMFT 53937
Marriage and Family Therapist