What can people do to help now that you have a diagnosis?

     When we found out our son Hunter had autism in 2008, we were in survival mode. There is so much to learn and so much to do once you have that on paper. Parents are always filling out extensive paperwork or traveling to doctors, evaluations, therapy or school. It is like having another job to add to the job of parenting. It is so exhausting. I found that often people ask what can I do to help.

     This is why I am writing this. The ‘what can I do’ question is so often thrown out, but seldom do people do anything, for me at least. I think people kind of stay back hoping for you to tell them what to do or they just back away because they fear what they don’t understand. For a long time, we were so busy with autism and a new baby, we didn’t know what to tell or ask people to do to help. We are over 2 years into our autism journey and have 2 on the autism spectrum, so we need all the help we can get, right? So one day I broke out my lap top and began to type. The “how can you help” list. Now this may seem silly, but it is what you need to make for yourselves. People just don’t have any idea how tired, overworked and overwhelming your lives are with autism.

                                                                                                                                                   Now, I am not saying that autism is the worst thing that can happen, but it’s a whole new land with a whole new way to do things.  It’s a full time and often over time job. Not being able to understand your child’s wants and needs is down right heartbreaking.   Seriously, it’s like taking yourself to a foreign country and someone saying “ok here you go”. You don’t know the language and you sure don’t know the culture or expectations in that place. So imagine how your child feels. There are often days when I forget to shower, brush my teeth or eat when I am home by myself with the kids. Now people easily say “you need to take care of yourself”. That is often easier said than done, especially when you have a 2-year-old literally climbing the counters and hanging of light fixtures. So, when in doubt, write a list out is my motto. I made a list of things in the house that need fixed, since my hubby is not able to fix much, I told people what needed to be done. I also recommend listing things like drop off a prepared meal or pizza or even tv dinners for when days are so hectic you can’t think of cooking. Just heat and serve or pop it in the oven for a quick meal. This is the kind of stuff that really helps me out. Also, list some errands someone can do, like pick up prescriptions or post office stuff, or dry cleaning. These are simple enough, but when you have a child that is having a bad day or napping, sometimes you can’t do it. Sometimes, I have so many calls to make I just need an extra set of hands and ears. Whatever it is you may need, write it out and spread it between family and friends. Typical people often don’t really know what to do so they just wait for you to let them know. Take whatever help you can get, so you can have time for you and rest to be the best for your kids.

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