Self-Care: The Most Important Thing You Can Do for Yourself and Your Autistic Child

I’m going to be honest with you: self-care is hard. Especially when you’re a Dad of an autistic child. Your kid needs you 24/7, and it can feel like you don’t have a moment to yourself. But I’m here to tell you that self-care is essential, not just for your own well-being, but for the well-being of your child as well.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • You can’t pour from an empty cup. When you’re running on empty, you’re more likely to be irritable, impatient, and stressed. And that’s not good for you or your child.
  • Self-care shows your child that it’s okay to take care of themselves. Children learn by watching the adults in their lives. If you’re always putting yourself last, your child is likely to do the same.
  • Self-care can help you manage stress and anxiety. Parenting a child with autism can be incredibly stressful. But when you have healthy coping mechanisms in place, you’ll be better able to handle the challenges that come your way.

So how do you find time for self-care when you’re already so busy? Here are a few tips:

  • Start small. Even if you can only spare 15 minutes a day for yourself, that’s something. Do something that you enjoy and that helps you relax, such as reading, taking a walk, or listening to music.
  • Delegate. If you have a partner, family members, or friends who are willing to help, ask them to take over some of your parenting responsibilities for a few hours each week. This will give you some time to yourself to recharge.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. It’s okay to turn down invitations or extra work commitments if you need to. Your mental health is more important.

Here are a few more specific self-care ideas for Dads of Aspies:

  • Join a support group for Dads of Aspies. It’s helpful to talk to other dads who understand what you’re going through.
  • See a therapist. A therapist can help you develop coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety, and they can also offer support and guidance.
  • Take care of your physical health. Eat healthy foods, get regular exercise, and get enough sleep. When you’re physically healthy, you’re better able to handle the emotional and mental demands of parenting.

I know that self-care is not always easy, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. There are resources available to help you, and there are other dads who are going through the same thing. So please, take care of yourself. You deserve it.

And remember, laughter is the best medicine. So here’s a funny story:

My son, who has Asperger’s, had a very limited diet when he was younger. He would only eat chicken nuggets and french fries. One day, I was trying to get him to eat some vegetables. I said, “Buddy, how about we try a carrot? It’s good for you.”

He looked at me and said, “Dad, I don’t care if it’s good for me. It’s not good for my taste buds.”
He’s 23 now, and his diet is now extremely varied. He still loves chicken nuggets and french fries, but he’s also open to trying new things. He’s discovered that he loves sushi, Thai food, and Indian food. He’s even started cooking his own meals, and he’s really good at it. I’m so proud of him for coming so far.

I laughed so hard. And then I realized that he’s right. It’s okay to not like everything. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to take care of yourself.

So go out there and be the best Dad of Aspies you can be. And don’t forget to take care of yourself along the way.

About the Author:
This post was brought to you by DOA.AU, the go-to hub for Aussie dads with Aspie kids. Our aim? To make the journey a tad easier, a heap more fun, and a whole lot more informed! Join our community for more tips, stories, and dad jokes that only we find funny. 😉🇦🇺

Note: Always consult with a professional when implementing new strategies or tools for your child.

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