Woman meditationing in a wheat field

Stress? Autism? Balance? Time.

Is it the techniques we choose? Or, is it the time it takes?

Is it possible? As a mom? To have balance? To manage stress?

As a mom to three children under 7, I am not sure. As a mom to a minimally verbal child with autism, I am really not sure. Things can get crazy. It’s difficult to step away from the stress. As caregivers, it is important that we care for ourselves. Easier said than done. When? How?

How can we take care of ourselves?

I think we all know that we have to do this. It’s the “how” that we all wonder about. How, exactly, do I care for a disabled child and take care of myself?
There are many studies that tell us that stress levels are high in moms of kids with autism. Still more tell us that if we manage the stress, we will be better moms. Caring for ourselves will help us care for others better. Okay. The question becomes how?

It’s about time…

A recent study at Vanderbilt University points to two techniques to manage stress. The first is mindfulness training. The second teaches a more cognitive approach. Both are led by peers. All well and good. I would love to try it. But, how are these people finding time? How could I possibly go? Researchers and policy makers are missing the point. We know how to care for ourselves. What we need is skilled, qualified care for our children. We cannot hire the babysitter down the street. The people that we hire require certain skills. Expensive, hard to find skills.

Do Researchers and Policy-Makers get it?

When will researchers and policy makers get it? Is it possible that just simply having time away has more of an effect on stress than the actual study intervention? I think it could. Imagine if an employer tried to work you like this? They can’t. There are Federal and State laws to protect employees. Not family caregivers.

    • 85% of 43 million family caregivers in the U.S. right now don’t receive any respite services.
      • National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP Public Policy Institute, Caregiving in the US, 2015.
    • 4/10 adults in the U.S. care for a family member with severe health issues
      • PEW Research Center, June 20, 2013.
    • Care for the caregivers = More successful children. Happy healthy caregivers. Marriages. Siblings. All work to support the affected child. If the family functions well, the affected child will be better supported. A better supported child is more likely to succeed.

What can we do?

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