Take Care of YOU!

Being the caregiver for someone on the Autism Spectrum can be very lonely and isolating as well as exhausting. We may shop online or in the middle of the night. We may no longer go out to eat or visit with friends. Our children may have lost their friends so they are always home. We may even homeschool our child on the Spectrum which isolates us even more. As a result, many caregivers don't get what they need to take care of themselves. Sometimes, the only thing a caregiver needs is a break, and for whatever reason, they rarely get one.

The reasons why caregivers don't get their breaks vary from family to family. Either we can't find someone that is qualified to care for our loved one or once we do entrust them to someone else's care, their lack of understanding and unwillingness to learn about our family member leads them to inevitably call social services. Let's face it, any parent will avoid that whole ordeal if at all possible, so why make it possible? It could be that we have nowhere to turn or no resources, financially or otherwise. Many times, trying to take a break from everyday life becomes just another point of needless stress, so we stop trying, throw our hands up in the air, and just accept that we may never see the outside world again.

As a caregiver, you really need to try and find a way to get the breaks you need. Everyone needs some quality time to themselves. It's good for you, and it's good for the person you're caring for.

One thing you can do is check your local autism organizations to see if they know of anywhere you can find respite care. You may also be able to find respite care in your local yellow pages or on Google. For using Google enter - "respite care" "your city, state" - and this should bring up something if anything is available.

If you're financially able, you can look on Sitter City or Care.com. Both of these websites have listings for caregivers that have experience caring for people of all ages on the Spectrum. You'll have to check your area. There is a fee to be able to contact the care providers. (Check in our footer for any discounts.)

If you're unable to physically get away just yet, find some time for yourself at home for now. Make it a point to put this on the schedule as a priority. For example, taking a hot bubble bath while reading 4 more pages from the book you started last year, after everyone's asleep, can be a nice little vacation at home. You could wake up an hour early and snuggle up with a cup of coffee or cocoa and listen to a podcast or read the paper.

You could also give yoga a shot. It's a wonderful stress reliever. You don't need to go to a gym or yoga center to do it. There are many wonderful yoga videos on YouTube and on various yoga websites around the web. (We use the Yoga Today YouTube page.) You can do yoga in your living room or even in your yard!
If  you aren't able to fit this in before everyone wakes up, you could even do this in the middle of the day with your child. Yoga is great for kids on the Spectrum since it helps one to calm and focus.


For information on respite care, here are some helpful articles:
http://www.autism-help.org/family-respite-care-autism.htm
http://autism.about.com/od/supportforparents/p/respitecare.htm

A helpful book for relieving stress: