Dealing with the stress of the diagnosis No parent expects to hear that their child is Autistic. In addition the shock of the diagnosis can leave parents drained of physical, mental and emotional energy. Therefore, it is important to conserve your energy to focus on areas of priority. Parents of Autistic children experience high stress levels, as everyday parenting skills are not adequate and effective when dealing with a child who is locked in their own little world.
The frustration, guilt, anger and resentment play a role in contributing to the added strain on the parents. Parents feel guilt as they blame themselves in feeling that perhaps the condition could have been avoided and frustrated in not being able to cope or get through to their child. Furthermore, a lack of external support adds to the difficulty in participating and enjoying everyday activities.
Allow others to support you in recognising the difficulties that you are faced with. This in turn will encourage those who genuinely want to assist, to offer support at times when coping becomes more than a challenge. Don’t let yourself wallow in self pity, rather help yourself move through the process by recognising how you feel and find ways to deal with what you are experiencing. A friend who is ready to listen, or a diary in which you can write down and assess the process, will help you find a way forward.
Take care of yourself and look at relaxation methods to take your mind off the stressful situation. Give yourself time to accept your feelings and come to terms with the diagnosis. Seek professional help or counselling if you feel that you need it. Recognising your stress level is necessary in order to learn how to manage it. Following the diagnosis of Autism, parents are faced with fear, worry and anxiety which are the root causes of stress which results in an inability to cope. Excessive stress levels will lead to illness and stop you from doing the best for your child. A high stress level which leaves you mentally and physically exhausted on a regular basis means it is time to seek professional help.