Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Autism Parenting and Chronic Stress

Lately I find myself on the verge of my own meltdown fairly regularly.  I have so much on my mind that I have very little capacity to handle the unexpected, and unfortunately, the unexpected happens pretty much daily.  I am chronically tired and constantly planning my day in 5 minute increments, it gets old. 

I think this is the case for most moms out there; we all have to cope with constant change.  That being said, I still believe that my life as a mom is quite intense.  My job is intense, and never lets up, not for inclement weather, or holidays, or illness, nothing.  Working from home- people always tell me how lucky I am- and it’s true in many circumstances.  However, the past 6 weeks have been HELL.  The boys’ childcare closed for a week and a half over Christmas, then has been closing for any and all inclement weather.  The end result has been me, at home, with two children with autism who literally do not understand the idea of “being quiet” (yes, I know moms are going to say no child does, but I PROMISE you, this is different), a 30 phone call daily requirement with all calls being recorded, and constant fear that I will lose my job if Jack chooses to come in and start talking about his latest obsession during one of the calls that will be listened to.  It has involved me locking myself in my office at various intervals to make important calls with two small children pounding on the door and crying.  It has involved me running all over the house with my computer, hiding, just to get something done.  It has involved me allowing my kids to constantly watch TV when I am totally against it.  And while I have gotten some offers from people to sit for the boys during the bad weather (which it has to be said, has never been bad enough for anything to actually be closed), I am already paying for the closed childcare and cannot afford to pay for more.  It’s an awful situation, and I think that people forget on both ends just what we as parents are trying to juggle.   I find myself feeling like a bad parent (see above TV statement) and a poor employee (seriously, try to get the 30 calls in each day, with kids at home, school tours daily like last week and an IEP meeting to boot- try).  My house is a mess, laundry is everywhere, there are potato chip crumbs all over the floor from me shoving food at the boys to try and keep them quiet while I am on the phone.  My parents live just far enough away that when the weather is even a little bit rough I feel bad asking them to come help, John’s new job takes him an hour away each day, and he has no vacation or sick time because it is a new job- so I am on my own.

End result- I am slowly losing my mind.   I also decided to do a 60 day “insanity” diet and exercise challenge starting in January. HA!!!!!  After 2 weeks, and only 2 pounds lost, I found myself so lightheaded while visiting my sister and trying on bridesmaids dresses that I ended up outside a Panera tossing my cookies.  Yep, good times. 

This constant “fight or flight” crap is mentally exhausting.  If I could get one day of “just work”, well, honestly I don’t know what I would do.  I see some dancing though, definitely dancing. 

The cherry on top is the whole autism parent-advocate role.  This spring is extremely intense, trying to decide Nate’s next step- he is going through a series of assessments over the next 60 days, I am touring his different school options, and then comes the big meeting with the current school staff, the “transition team” , his outside teachers and therapists, and mom and dad in March.  We also became aware recently that our health insurance with John’s new job covers ABA, which is amazingly, fantastically wonderful.  However, it has involved a ton of paperwork on my end, not to mention the assessments that are coming up connected with that, etc.   I will say that I am ecstatic about finally having the opportunity to provide my son with ABA- it’s one of the few “proven” therapies for autism and it has killed me that I haven’t been able to do this for him (it’s you know, thousands of dollars each month).  This development is a huge mark in the win column for our family.  Nate also recently started some new medical treatment, which involves weekly trips to the pediatrician.  Oh, and grant applications for state funding were also due this month. 

What chronic stress?  I’m all good over here.  But if you hear a primal scream emanating from our general vicinity, well, it could possibly be me.


  1. Thinking of you and glad you are venting!

  2. ABA is indeed a powerful tool; you can do a lot without thousands of dollars. There are some great books and online resources that can help. The problem is the parent(s) have to invest a huge amount of time, or else you have to pay somebody else to do it all. No surprise somebody ends up being a stay at home parent.