What every autism parent needs to know for a strong 2016 (The 5 Things I’d tell myself on NY 2015)

number five

 

Guess what? Someone here has a birthday coming up.

It’s my blog! *Noisemaker*

So, to celebrate The Least of These turning one, I have my own little countdown to New Years’ happening.

The learning curve for parenting a child with autism–this year, in particular–has been pretty steep. Which is to say, of course, that I understand autism parenting better today than I did last year. Today starts a countdown of the top five things I wish I’d known on NYD 2015, and if you have a kiddo on the spectrum, will hopefully help your 2016.

And what are we counting down to, exactly?

I’m so glad you asked. But that’s a surprise. And it’s coming on NYD 2016.

So, let’s start today with #5.

#5: Get thyself to a counselor.

So, Past Maura, here’s the thing.

You actually have it together a lot better than you did in 2009. Like, way better. And in fact, you’re juggling the ever-changing needs of a kindergartner with autism like, really well.

And you have a great husband.

And you have the best friends in the whole world.

And your family couldn’t possibly be more supportive, even if they are far away.

But, even though it’s kind of a best case scenario, and even though you’re super healthy, you’re headed for a catastrophic crash.

That’s because autism, all by itself, without any other life complications, is overwhelming and scary for a parent to know how to navigate, even if it’s going well right now.

Right now, you think that devoting yourself to prayer is everything you need. You think status quo is totally okay. And it’s not that that’s false, but for you, it will be adventageous–no, imperative–no wait–EVERYTHING–to unload all those things you’re afraid to say out loud into the lap of a visible person who is professionally trained to handle it.

And she will suggest things that you never thought of.

Sometimes almost laughably simple, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that things.

Every time you walk out the door of her office, you will feel lighter. Clearer. And more mindful of Christ, even if she didn’t say anything about Him. You’ll probably have a trick or two in your pocket that you’re at least a little excited to try.

It sounds small, and like it’s not a big enough thing to trouble yourself with.

But it’s everything. And it makes life more liveable.

You say you need a Christian counselor? An Orthodox counselor, perhaps your priest? Someone who has special background in autism or special needs? Okay. I hear what you’re saying.

And I’m telling you not to worry about it.

If you’re not convinced, listen to this little gem. It’s a podcast by licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Albert Rossi called “Becoming a Healing Presence.” In this one, Dr. Rossi discusses common Orthodox concerns about beginning therapy and choosing a therapist. It’s about 20 minutes long and it’s worth every second.

Going to see a counselor to give you some clarity is not just something that’s okayed by the church. It’s wise.

Do it. Don’t wait.

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