Description: It’s normal to feel burnout as a parent. However, you can still avoid it. So, join us today as we discuss autism parent burnout for some tips and advice. 

Autism Parent Burnout: Is It Real?

Parenting can be challenging, and this can especially ring true for parents and caregivers of children on the autism spectrum. Dedicated parents often have a habit of putting their needs second and forgetting about self-care, which can make them tired, anxious, and even depressed. So, it’s safe to say that autism parent burnout is real. 

However, there are ways to get on track while still being a good parent to your autistic child. For starters, there’s applied behavior analysis for parents, which is part of ABA therapy, and you can visit this website to learn more about it. We also have some helpful advice, so feel free to join us as we discuss autism parent burnout and how to prevent it. 

The Importance of Self-Care

Before we explain just how important self-care is, we first need to define the term. Namely, self-care promotes one’s own mental, physical, and emotional health and well-being. But it’s not a one-time act — it’s more of an ongoing process. Self-care involves practicing healthy behaviors to improve your well-being, as well as the well-being of others. That is something parents and caretakers of children on the Autism spectrum should be familiar with since keeping your health in high regard also allows you to help your child. 

Everyone needs self-care from time to time. However, parents should especially focus on it. And as we’ve mentioned, parents of children with behavioral disorders can often experience burnout due to added stress. So, to take care of your child, you must take care of yourself, too.

Lastly, self-care can be any activity that calms your mind. It doesn’t have to be some grandiose gesture of self-love, and it usually isn’t. Instead, self-care could be a walk in the park or a few hours with a good book. Essentially, it’s any pastime that you find enjoyable. 

Tips for Preventing Parent Burnout Autism 

Parent burnout can be hard to manage since it impacts your mental health. Luckily, we have some tips for you that can help you avoid this, so let’s discuss them.

Creating a List 

Lists are generally rather helpful, and it’s no different when you’re feeling burned out. A list can provide security, comfort, and organization, and it can be a compilation of practically anything. It can be a reminder for you to eat, exercise, or enjoy your hobbies, and that in itself can be extremely grounding.

Plan Outings by Yourself 

An excellent way to clear your head and relieve stress is to spend some time alone outside. Of course, make sure your child is well taken care of beforehand and leave them with someone you can rely on. That doesn’t have to be a daily thing, it rarely is for anyone, but it’s something you can do on a weekly or biweekly basis. Take yourself out for coffee, lunch, or a tasty dinner. You can also go to a movie theater, library, or a little shopping trip. 

Again, your outing can be anything you enjoy or anything that helps you clear your head, even just a nice walk in the park with a to-go drink in hand can be a pleasant way to ease your mind. 

Creating a Schedule 

Creating a schedule is sort of like creating a list, except a schedule can help you arrange a time for yourself. It can be similar to how you schedule your child’s day, but instead of scheduling meals, studying activities, and so on, you can schedule catching up on a book or watching your favorite TV show.

Creating Positive Reminders

Try finding positive quotes that you can use as reminders and inspiration. You can print these out or write them down yourself and put them up as prompts. Similar to how children need visual prompts, parents also need positive reinforcement, too. 

Cutting Yourself Some Slack 

You should also make sure to cut yourself some slack, even though it may sound silly. That mainly relates to being aware of your limitations and understanding you can’t get everything done. If you haven’t checked everything off of your to-do list, that’s totally fine. There’s always tomorrow, and pushing yourself beyond your limits could cause you to feel burned out and could do more harm than help in the long run.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)  is a practice that can assist parents in being able to work with emotions regarding parenthood and help them understand the related behaviors. It emphasizes things such as mindfulness, acceptance, values, and psychological flexibility. It helps parents come to terms with their current thoughts and feelings instead of disregarding them. 

And, as hard as it might be, it’s our duty to understand both the positive and negative ones to put them into perspective. When we start doing that, we can move on to the problem-solving part of the task at hand. Changes that we make based on our own personal values, feelings, and thoughts are the ones that stick and the ones that we should accept. 

Applied Behavior Analysis for Parents 

If you’re a parent or a caretaker of a child on the autism spectrum, you’re probably already familiar with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Regardless, it’s a form of intervention that focuses on a series of empirical approaches based on operant and respondent conditioning principles that aim to change socially significant behaviors. 

While the definition sounds a bit bulky, ABA is quite simple and rather flexible. And it can be adapted so that it meets everyone’s needs. ABA can also be a good way to establish an understanding with your child while also helping them learn useful skills. Here are some key points regarding ABA that you can practice:

  • Positive reinforcement
  • Providing consequences
  • Prompting
  • Working on gaining your child’s attention
  • Establishing operations

These points can include understanding and identifying various reinforcers for your child, understanding your own role in your child’s functioning and skills, utilizing playtime with your child to teach them skills, and so on. 

By Manali