I was sitting in the waiting room at my daughter’s therapists office today and I met another overwhelmed parent. Poor thing was exhausted and barely keeping it together. She was in the same place I was two years ago…helpless.
For parents of autistic children, there is only one thing they wish they had…HELP! Because autistic children have hours of therapy, diet restrictions, insomnia, medical conditions, behavioral problems, etc., it leaves little time in the day to do anything else. Grocery shopping, cleaning the house, laundry, cooking meals, mowing the lawn, running errands are simple daily chores that are sometimes impossible to complete because of the overwhelming nature of autism.
I have been asked a hundred times “how can I help you?” Here are a few ways you can help. Next time you’re heading to the grocery store, call up your friend or family member who has an autistic child and ask them if you can pick anything up for them. Drop off a lasagna that they can freeze or use for dinner that night. Or when you visit their house and they apologize for the mountain of laundry and grass three feet tall, offer to help with the laundry or mow the lawn. Maybe watch their child while they take an hour nap…if something goes wrong they’re there. And if you have a good relationship with the child, offer date night! Many parents of autistic children have qualified sitters or respite care professionals but no disposable income. Offer to pay for the evening so they can enjoy some alone time.
Please don’t get upset if the parent declines your help. Unfortunately, pride gets in the way. It may not make sense but sometimes they just say no even though you know they need it. Another challenge is most autistic parents don’t trust anyone with their children. Not because they don’t trust their friends or family, because they don’t trust the ability of anyone else to care for their children. My family and friends get upset with me because I usually say no to help. Not because I don’t appreciate it, because I don’t want to be a burden. So don’t stop asking to help! They may surprise you and say yes!