Caring for the Caregivers

Participate in research buttonAutism spectrum disorder (ASD) touches all aspects of your and your family’s lives. As your child’s primary caregiver and advocate, it is easy to lose yourself amid the sea of ASD-related challenges and responsibilities. Juggling your child’s needs with those of the rest of your family, your job and everyday life can be incredibly difficult.

Still, there is nothing selfish about taking care of yourself. By finding the support and resources you need, you will ultimately be doing the best thing for your child, the rest of your family and yourself.

Here are some ways you can begin to find a balance as a caregiver:

Expand your support

  • Join a support group for parents who have children with ASD.
  • Attend parent training seminars and classes that will help you face common challenges.
  • Educate your friends and family members about ASD and the challenges you, your child and your family are facing.
  • Ask for help; no one expects you to do this alone.

Find support for your family

  • Attend family therapy to help address issues that are affecting your entire family.
  • Begin couples therapy to help you and your partner work as a team to manage your child’s care, your family’s overall well-being and your relationship with one another.
  • If your partner has ASD, consider couples therapy specifically for ASD partners that focuses on helping to facilitate communication, empathy and intimacy.
  • Find a sibling support group for your other children to help them learn how to live — and thrive — with a sibling with ASD.

Treat yourself right

  • Maintain an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits to ensure you are able to handle the physical toll of caregiving.
  • Engage in stress reducing activities, such as yoga, meditation and exercise.
  • Find experienced caregivers who can help give you a break now and then.
  • Let yourself break down when you need to. There is no weakness in recognizing your stress and hardship.
  • Pull yourself back up — and ask for help to do so.

Find the resources you need

The Autism Resource Directory is a comprehensive, continuously updated online directory that links you to service providers, support groups, community resources and government programs across the nine-county Chicago metropolitan area — Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will.