The parents of autistic children are among the most stressed people I know. Shortly after my son was diagnosed with autism I sat in a parent support group, just watching the fathers’ and mothers’ faces. Their expressions brought tears to my eyes and mingled with my own heartache. The love and commitment to our children was a priority for all of us. We worried about the develop and behaviors of our children…one couple agonized over a son who screamed when he saw people…another parent was grief-stricken when her son shrieked when he saw a child’s hands…one parent dealt with a child so tormented he couldn’t sleep at night, making the whole family sleep-deprived. The worry and concerns about a child who isn’t learning and losing ground daily is torture. But in spite of the obstacles, at every support group meeting, these parents had hope, worked hard, and loved their children profoundly.
I found the best cure for stress was having a structured plan. I selected a therapy, set hours, and worked the strategy every day. My son received lots of attention; behavior were addressed instead of sitting by watching helplessly. Even in the mist of what I call mega-therapy (36 hours a week), laughter returned to our home. I began to feel more normal. My stress was directed toward healthy endeavors. We strove to make therapy a fun and rewarding experience for our son. Goals were made and could be measured when the information was taught and generated.
Stress and autism seem to go hand in hand, but with love, hope, prayer, and planning, stress can be directed in a healthier direction.
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Karen Michelle Graham
~ Announcing Hope Over Autism ~
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