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Readers Respond: Tips for Overcoming Negative Feelings to Help Your Autistic Child

Responses: 16

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Updated January 31, 2010

When you have an autistic child, you may feel overwhelmed with guilt, furiously angry, or even numb. But then you get past those feelings to help your child. What helped you overcome negative feelings to help your autistic child?

Finding Joy in the simple little things

I never forgot that feeling and now if we're having a bad day and driving each other crazy I get his blanket and bag of sharing toys out and we have a calm, positive time together. It helps me to de-stress and it helps Sam to focus himself and I never fail to feel happy at the end of it! I also find that if we're in a stressful situation I'll just take him off to a quiet corner and go back to basics, playing simple games like peek-a-boo or tickling, blowing bubbles or counting the petals on a daisy, I find it reminds me of how pure and innocent his view of the world is and I feel much more tolerant which obviously helps Sam feel more chilled too, then we can go back and tackle the problem together, whether it's queuing at the supermarket or walking to school in the rain, a little bit of remembering how it feels to be a child really works for me! We are so lucky to have our special children to remind us how beautiful the world can be :o)
—Guest KatieLou

Finding Joy in the simple little things

When my 4-year-old was first diagnosed I went through all the emotional turmoil I'm sure you've all faced; guilt, denial, anger, sadness, I felt sorry for him - and myself! - for such a long time and used to cry about the fact that he has never said "Mummy"...the list goes on and on. But then I found another Mum with an autistic son in Sam's class at nursery who comforted me when I got upset at a particularly traumatic school drop-off. It made all the difference just to know that someone understood what I was going through and she helped me to find the right help for Sam. As soon as we had our first session with his CITEY team worker Judith I saw light at the end of the tunnel. I was able to sit down and have a fun and positive half hour with him doing interactive play and it felt so good to reach him! I'll never forget the way his face lit up when he realised I was copying his every move and that I was completely focused on him. It was so special to really connect with him that way
—Guest KatieLou

outiside the box

i used to have a lot of negative feelings and didnt know how to deal with my son autism but you know what now that he is 15 and in high school and i see him with friends and he is so happy and unique i wouldnt change a thing the only thing i dont like is when others in the world look at him and wonder what he is on or what is wrong with him why does he talk like a robot and i realize that i stress more over these things than he does they are not even apparent to him he is so smart and all of his likes and hobbies are outside the box and for that i am thankful because he can have a unique and interesting life and live it his way
—Guest kelnmike

Finding the good

After realizing that my daughter was still my daughter and not the face of Autism, I started thinking and focusing on what was good or unique about her. Fortunately I found many things to build upon.. We both enjoyed and took pride in those things and still do so. She is now 18 and relatively happy person!
—Guest judyjones

A Spectrum Woman Speaks

I am sorry for the man who felt he had to beat his autism spectrum child to make him obey and become a better person. Too often, violence and abuse has ben the method for trying to control kids with a behavior and an illness that the parents, schools and society didn't understand. I myself got beaten often. How does a big adult man and woman do that, go crazy on a skinny sickly child, and then stand up and feel so self-righteous about it afterward? Well, I hope things are different for todays kids on the Spectrum! I have begun to share some of my experiences on my new blog at: www.autismrox.wordpress.com
—Guest Silky Sienna

It's a Marathon -- Not a Sprint

When we got the diagnosis of high-functioning autism 3 1/2 years ago, I would look at my son and not see him anymore. I could see only autism. It's a death of sorts: the end of dreams and hopes, and the way *you* wanted it to be. But it is also a beginning. This journey can break you open, teach you so much, and make you closer to God (or whatever you call God) than ever before. I've written about the journey in my blog: www.yogamother.wordpress.com. Today my son is a loving, gentle, talkative boy with a great sense of humor -- and he is still on the road to recovery from autism. Every day we work on it. I've received so much support and help; I've had to be vulnerable; and I've learned very deeply the value of unconditional love for my child. So even though I wouldn't have asked for this on one level, it's made me a better person in many ways. I am grateful for that.
—Guest Yoga Mother

Other problems

My son is autistic. We were lucky and knew what it was. I took him to school for them to observe. They told me he was autistic and we started the ball rolling as how to help him. With stimulation therapy, I soon had my son back. Being as bright as he is, he overcame some very big obstacles. Now he's 17 and very much in need of therapy. He's had some mental problems he doesn't understand and I'm trying hard to find him some help. Please know that the power of love is strongest with autistic children along with patience and understanding. Sometimes we can't get into their minds by ourselves so we have to turn to professionals. Autism seems to be deep inside the brain and we have to reach out and bring the kids back from whereever they went. It's easy with lots of love and understanding.
—Smerky12

Getting Past All of It

When I realized that no matter what I was going to be the best mother I could possibly be, no matter what my hub, my family, my church, the teachers or school district was going to say or do, then it all became clear. I am the one who has the power to change his world into one he can be as independent as possible in, and whatever the obstacles, we will make it together. I too, have spent millions of hours online and in books teaching myself so I can teach others how to care for him physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. I am not upset, but instead feeling honored that God chose me, to be his mother. I get to say that he is my wonderfully made son, and know in my heart that if others don't accept him, the personal investment I have made in developing his confidence in what he CAN do, can carry far. He is imaginative, creative, and has been able, with a lot of help, to harnass his talents in writing and drawing, and I can't wait to see how he develops them in the future!
—Guest momonamission

to overcome negative feelings

i think-having an autistic son is big blessing from my GOD.my son is like an angel to me,a special gift from GOD to me.i didn't deserve of having such a beautiful child who is as pure as Him,unlike other children i come across.in today world children are so clever and their innocent childhood is lost somewhere.but these children are very far from wordly dirt.GOD has sent these children for something different,for that he has made them different.our duty is just to very carefully take care of these tiny treasures,respect their each &every feeling &help them become independent.and most importantly they need lots of prayers &blessings of everyone around them.you should feel guilty only if ever you hurt them.you should be proud of urself for being blessed by Him inspite of all our past sins.
—reenusharma

Acceptance

From the moment that my son was diagnosed as having Autistic Spectrum Disorder, I felt that I was responsible for his condition and could not forgive myself.But after reading most of the literatures on the possible causes of the condition, I came vto the conclusion that I was not responsible for my son's condition.Initially,I thought that the excess Oxitocin to which my son was subjected to in the womb before an emergency caeserean section was done to deliver my wife of my son was possible a causative factor.I have to honestly say that I still have about 1% feeling of quilt as long as my son's condition is concerned. However, my current stand is that whatever is the cause of my son's condition, I must do my best to help him live as near normal life as possible while at the same time believing strongly that God will definitely heal my son in Jesus's name,Amen.
—nwaelugo_C_F

overcoming negative feelings

Hi , I am the parent of two non-verbal boys who have autism. they are 12 and 17 now and i have learned alot through the years...i have made alot of mistakes and wasted alot of time..the biggest hurtle for me was to stop feeling helpless by looking for cures and answers from other people....i now look within myself for what feels right and help my children myself. whats important is for them to feel safe with me and learn from me....that is the most i can give them and this makes me feel good...after all, no one else is going to help them like i can...they just dont care enough....i know that sound sad, but its true...what i do get is information from them, but i listen to myself and my heart first....good luck to all of you....
—Guest donna litrenta

Not on my *&#%^ $ watch!

Harsh, but this is truly the first thought I had when my oldest was dx'ed with Aspergers and 1 month later my youngest with moderate Autism-non-verbal then. It also didn't help that my husband and family didn't believe me. I threw myself on the computer for about 14 hrs a day, turning my back on everything, so much pizza back then. I remember the day so clearly that my husband said that I should "take a break and give 'this' a rest". I turned to him and said "I will never love you more than I hate 'this' keeping them from me". Seven yrs. later we're in the car after an IEP and he turns to me and says that he had held more respect me for at that moment, even though it hurt to hear. That I was the mother I was meant to be. Sure I dragged us to a DAN doc, tried Kirkman's, the diet, made my house a gym and met the best people!! Today my Aspie is in Catholic HS, football and working. My 'moderate' is talking a blue streak, severe LD and a smart alack. I am the mother I was meant to be.
—Roni_M

Alive so had to fight but still struggle

Just realizing he was still alive and so was I, so I had to do something. I bought autism books and read everything I could and started going reluctantly to conferences (I didn't want to be in this "club"). I learned about the window early on and how critical it is to push for performance early on with good people following methods with proven success (not that I always had competent or highly effective people in place). But to be honest, I still wonder and deal with guilt 5 years after diagnosis --HAVE I done enough? I didn't try this or that -- which seemed to work for select children and yet it is too daunting or dangerous or impractical to try every possible "cure" or help out there.
—Guest Dreamer

Acceptance

I guess my husband and I never looked for blame. We just wanted the best for our son. I did not try to give up my dreams for him because all my husband and and hoped for was a happy child, and We were blessed with a happy child. Brandon is very high functioning, and so he can communicate many of his feelings to us. He tells me he loves me everyday. I have to accept who he is with all of his strengths and weakness . Just like I hope my loved ones can accept me for all of my strengths and weaknesses. But the most important thing about overcoming negative feelings is just to embrace the good of the moment, appreciate the things you can and always look ahead with hope for any accomplishments no matter how great or small. Blame or guilt will only hurt all members involved and will not solve any of the now problems. Let it go.
—Guest l.benanto

Getting through the pain

My advice to anyone going through the negative emotions is frankly to embrace them! Autism does profoundly change the way we live our lives, so pretending it's all "OK" all the time is not showing emotional integrity. You do have to cry and let it out. Everyone grieves differently. That said, once you do let it out, start educating yourself! The more you research and learn about autism, the less scarey it becomes and the more hope you start to have. You begin to change your thoughts from "my child suffers from autism" to "this is my child and he happens to have autism." There is a difference! I would also say find a good support group, like the autism society, where you can find others struggling through the same issues. And, don't expect to always be OK. There will always be days that are trying and hard. So you go home, you cry, then you pick yourself up and do what has to be done. You realize that you are stronger than you think and that this child has blessed you abundantly.
—Guest destiny29

How I got over it

Of course anyone who has dealt with this issue knows that the guilt never goes away, but for me, the anger and grief were tackled by the overwhelming relief that I wasn't insane! I spent years at this doctor and that specialist, just hearing that I wasn't consistent enough, he just had a bad temper, his father and I had no control over our lives, etc. Once I realized that there was a name for this and that murder wasn't my only option, I relaxed. I read up on everything I could get hands on and I used what I had learned in college about cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques to help him realize that he may see things differently, but if he fakes it, he can make it...and at the end of the day, he can just go to his special place and hear the water run and smell the strawberries (his visualization.) I will never get over the years of ignoring, yelling and "beatin' his *%#" like everyone told me to. But I am helping him realize that we are learning together.
—Guest bestephens

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