“Sometimes the things we can’t change, end up changing us.”
There have been several studies that have proof that parents of kids with special needs and autism have stress levels similar to those of soldiers in active combat, and may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to war veterans. One of the reasons for this is the constant state of alertness we are in, where we are constantly on the lookout for “dangers”or “threats” against our children. Only, in our case, the threats come in the form of routine changes, sensory issues, safety concerns, societal views and how our children are treated within the school system or when we are not around to protect them. Unlike soldiers, none of us are trained to deal with highly stressful situations over extended periods of time. We are in the midst of it and have to learn on the job. There is no guidebook on how to prepare as a parent when that baby is placed in your arms, especially a child with special needs.
To make matters worse is the lack of understanding and support many special needs and autism families face. The resources are so limited and The unawareness of where to seek help is daunting. In addition to dealing with the challenges of raising a child on the spectrum, parents of kids with autism and other special needs also have to battle social and emotional isolation. Sometimes no one in our circle of friends and families understands what we are going through. Our paths seem to diverge the moment our child is diagnosed with a disorder or a label of autism. While parents of neurotypical kids bond over school and sports and extra-curricular activities, parents of kids with special needs or autism are going from one therapy to another, and negotiating with schools for IEPs.
We are constantly advocating and battling with the dark cloud of judgement and wonder.
For some parents, coming to terms with an autism diagnosis or disability can be hard in itself. All of a sudden everything you took for granted is no longer guaranteed: your child’s placement in school, your child having friends, your child playing sports, your child participating in extracurricular activities, your child becoming independent, your child getting a job, your child having a career, your child getting married, your child having children, your child leading a conventionally successful life. Sometimes you grieve the loss of your hopes, dreams, expectations and ambitions for your child. The grieving process, however, remains the same: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and eventually, acceptance.
While some of us are able to overcome our grief on our own, some of us slip into depression and need help to get better. It is important to note that a person dealing with major depression and anxiety cannot simply “get over it.” They need counseling and medication in addition to understanding and support, to get better. It doesn’t mean they are weak. It takes a lot of courage and strength to admit you need help and seek it.
At Intrust Healthcare we provide therapeutic intervention and counseling in all areas, and our case managers provide resources, education, and support in the area in which you need it. As a Case Manager I have the opportunity to not only help families become successful but the chance to give back and knowing that I made a difference. Give us a call at 606-676-0638 and let’s grow together.
Padminee Bunch, MSP, TCDAC
Intrust Case Manager since 2017