This is the final post that was originally written for a site titled Character Boost, which I recently discovered that this site is no longer in operation. I decided to make this post available for my readers in a post linked to the original post. Please enjoy the original guest post as it was submitted to Character Boost a little over six years ago. Thank you for your patience, understanding, and continued support! ~Lorrie
In the previous post, How To Become Your Autism Child's Advocate While MaintainingYouHousehold, we learned about fundraising tips. While you are busy organizing your fundraiser, it is important to keep your family's needs in mind. It takes a lot of preparation to keep everything running smoothly in a family that has a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. There are many things you have to consider when planning for your child's and your family's daily schedule. I have found that if I follow this checklist, everyone involved is taken care of:
- Make sure that you have a separate schedule for everything related to your child's educational, physical, emotional, and sensory needs. If someone else is helping you to take or pick up your child from his or her school, doctors, therapists or other activities, you will want to keep them apprised of this schedule. I keep mine updated on my phone but, I periodically shake things up by alternating between a dry-erase and printed, color-coded monthly calendar that I keep posted on the refrigerator for everyone else to reference!
- Set aside a regular time to spend with your family. Regardless of the responsibilities you have as an adult, your first priority is as a parent to your child. I have found that if I have arranged a regularly scheduled "family time" for us to play our favorite board games, watch a movie, or enjoy an adventure to one of the local museums, everyone in my family looks forward to it!
- Your spouse needs you to make time for him, or her. The support that I receive from my husband, and the strength from my Lord, motivate me to do what I can for others. I sometimes get so involved in what I am doing, either for our children's school or the local autism support group, I find time has gotten away from me. Please don't let this happen to you, schedule a "date night" for you and your spouse and mark it on the calendar!
- Lastly, you need to ask yourself the following..."Got ME time?" I know that you are probably laughing hysterically but, it is crucial to make time for yourself! Everyone needs some individual time for solitude, whether it's just having a designated quiet time once a week or being able to meet a friend for a soda. Making the decision, to take care of yourself, will be well worth every minute!
By following the tips mentioned above, you can advocate on your autism child's behalf while still maintaining a sense of order in your home. Last fall, I started as an apprentice co-leader in my local parent-led support group and then was handed the reins, as the new support group leader, in January 2013. This new advocacy role has helped me to benefit from the social aspect and what I can learn from the other parents while I share what I know with them. I have been so busy lately with April being Autism Awareness Month that I have had to constantly remind myself to not let my various advocacy projects interfere with my responsibilities to my family.
Please join me in celebrating Autism Awareness Month in April and learning more about Autism Spectrum Disorders. The alarming new statistics released by the U.S. Center for Disease Control state that 1 in every 58 children in the United States are being diagnosed with Autism. Are YOU up to the extraordinary challenge of being the one to "Think Differently" to help someone with Autism accomplish better grades in school, achieve a career in a field that interests him or her, or even volunteer to help in childcare at an Autism support group? It will go a long way in making a difference in your community, the families affected by Autism, and in how each of us perceives individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. I know from my own experience that I am better for the time that I have spent as Nathan's Mom and working as a Special Education Substitute Teacher.
If you are looking for a support group, there is most likely a local Autism Society of America chapter which can provide a number of ways in which individuals and families can obtain support and share their experiences with others in their communities. Their chapters are an obvious place to turn for encouragement, accurate information, and education. Also, there are support groups on various social sites that you can join, or check out anonymously. Search for those in your area or state then widen your perimeter. If you are, or someone you know might be, interested in reading more about our journey on the Autism Spectrum, please take the time to check out Nathan's Voice.