As everyone knows, having a family member with autism or severe physical or mental disabilities can present a series of daunting challenges to a family. But the challenges can be significantly reduced with assistance from a variety of resources and the right kind of support.
While all family circumstances are different — including a wide range of functionality on the autism spectrum, and all types of physical and mental challenges that individuals may face — the overall experience often includes common steps and emotions for caregivers. That’s why it’s so important to find a good, caring, professional organization that can help you walk through these challenges.
Here are some things to consider when caring for family members with autism or other forms of disabilities.
Find Tailored Services
The first, and one of the most important things you should do, is to reach out for help. There is no shame in seeking help. The advice and services you find will only benefit you and your loved one. There are many services available to help you, and you should look for ones that are an ideal match for your loved one’s age and circumstances.
For example, young children with autism may need early intervention, specialized childcare, social integration and programs that involve playtime — things that can make the therapy fun.
Older children with autism will need different services such as help making their transition from school to work. Adults, on the other hand, will need their own tailored services to help them more fully participate in the community.
The nature of your loved one’s disability will have a big impact on the type of support you need and the programs that are available. From in-home care to adult daycare and even building a better, stronger relationship with your doctor, you should seek out advice and research that fits your family’s needs.
Look for Caregiver Support
Because disabilities affect entire families, and can sometimes take a toll on your own personal health and energy level, you should look for programs that can help and support the caregivers, too. Communicating and participating with support groups and others who are going through the same thing as you are will not only offer comfort and support, you will likely find good advice and other ideas from others with experiences similar to yours.
Being a caregiver, no matter what your situation, comes with certain stresses and responsibilities. Caregivers are often responsible for making decisions about planning for the future of loved ones and how best to care for them. Choosing the right kind of care is one of the most difficult decisions you can make, so look for trusted resources that can walk you through the process and explain all the options that are available to you.
And if you’re a caregiver, you should never forget to take care of yourself, too. If you devote some time to focus on your own needs, keeping yourself in good mental and physical shape, you’ll be better able to provide excellent care for the people around you.
Hopeful, Positive Attitude
While caring for people with autism or disabilities is undeniably difficult, many people also can experience tremendous joy by serving others and watching them grow and improve.
That’s where a positive attitude comes in. No matter the nature of your loved one’s disability, every person should have the support that helps them lead a life full of hopes and dreams, successes and accomplishments.
Children and adults with disabilities can still make tremendous contributions to society, but they need to be surrounded by the right community and find access to the right services and technologies that can make their lives as rich and full as possible.
A disability doesn’t mean there’s no hope. Finding the right kind of support and care group, as well as keeping and projecting a hopeful and positive attitude, will go a long way in improving you and your loved one’s lives while instilling confidence and security.