This guest blog post was originally posted on the saiconnections’ blog post page. You can read the original here.

I was engrossed in my book during the tea break at a workshop.

Suddenly, I felt a light touch on my shoulder. I turned around. She smiled as I looked at her. 

“Looking at you, I feel the need to take care of myself too,” she said. 

Tears threatened to spill out of her beautiful eyes.

I clasped her hands to comfort her. 

“The world thinks I’m strong, but I’m not. I need to take care of myself,” she continued.

I nodded. I knew exactly how she felt.

Often I hear comments like, ‘you’re always well turned out.’ ‘How do you manage to look like this?’ ‘ You don’t look like you have an adult son and daughter.’ 

kamini-and-mohit-lakhani

My friend, this is how you see me today. But you have no idea about how many years I struggled.

Those days, my only agenda was to fix Mohit, and push autism out of our lives.

Related: From Fear to Empowerment

I studied autism like a woman possessed and attended every workshop and training. I supervised Mohit’s home and school program and dealt with all his issues. His aggression and seizures were most painful.

I lost myself in the maze of autism. My likes and dislikes didn’t matter anymore. I was a far cry from my ‘before marriage’ self.

I put on oodles of weight and became over-sensitive. Meeting people, connecting with the outside world became troublesome. A voracious reader before, I stopped reading anything except books on autism and an occasional one on spirituality.

At one level I had become stronger. I did things I never imagined I could do. I studied and became an autism consultant.

But I was unaware that beneath the bravado, I carried a lot of grief. After years of struggle, I confronted my grief.

I began taking care of myself – body, mind and emotions. 

Being supported by a wonderful dietician and yoga teacher, I dropped 10-12 kilos. Today I’m fitter than I’ve ever been.

To every mother who wants to wants to live a happier and healthier life – it’s never too late.

You can achieve what I did by following three steps.

1. Make yourself a priority 

You are important. Don’t put yourself on the back burner. 

Nurture yourself. Ask yourself, ‘Who was I before autism entered my life.’

Find the inner child you lost along the way. Reconnect with that person. Invest in yourself.
 
how to be a good parent and take care of your autistic child

Treat yourself to a massage, an evening with friends, a trip. Do what makes you feel good.

2. Take care of your family

My daughter, Tanya, is 2 years younger than Mohit. Till date she feels she got a raw deal. I don’t blame her. I wasn’t ‘present’ for her. 

I ate, slept, dreamed autism. When I turned things around for myself, the rest of my family was much happier.

Given a chance, if I could redo one thing – it would be spending quality time with Tanya. 

Unfortunately, time lost doesn’t come back. Don’t commit the blunder I committed.

3. Accept your autistic child

Recently an autistic person commented on my blog post.

He made it clear that he is ‘autistic’ and does not ‘have autism.’ After all, autism is not a disease. It’s just the way people are wired.

Point accepted. I asked myself, ‘do I accept Mohit fully?’

I’m in awe of his artistic talent and memory for songs. But I’m not happy about his ‘odd movements’ and bouts of anger. This is what I must address within myself. 

True acceptance is unconditional. It encompasses and supports every trait – without trying to ‘change or control’ the person.

Once I accepted Mohit fully, our lives changed. I felt relaxed. Things eased out. I found joy in little moments. I began to enjoy the journey and was not focused on the destination.

The best part is Mohit changed too. He became a lot more relaxed. 

Who doesn’t face challenges in life? Relationship issues, financial problems, health scares. Despite what you go through, you have a choice.

You can always take a positive step. You can find opportunity in adversity. Choose to be happy.

“I’m done with suffering. I’m going to live every day to the fullest and find juice in every moment, including the ones I don’t like. BECAUSE LIFE IS JUST TOO SHORT TO SUFFER.” – Tony Robbins

You brave mother of an autistic child, tell yourself, “I’m done with suffering. I’m going to live every day to the fullest and find juice in every moment, including the ones I don’t like.”

Because life is just too short to suffer.

You can learn about self-care as a parent to a child with autism in our next RDI community webinar. Learn more here. 

 

RDI Certified Consultant Kamini Lackani IndiaKamini Lakhani is a, RDI® program consultant and the Director of SAI School (ABA Center) and SAI Connections (RDI Center). She has over 19 years of experience working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and currently serves as the director of our RDI Professional Training Center in Mumbai. She is the Director of SAI School (ABA Center) and SAI Connections (RDI Center) 

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