“At the end of the day, we don’t dream our lives…WE LIVE THEM!” Anthony Ianni
Today, April 2nd is World Autism Day. This is only one of seven official health-specific United Nations Days recognizing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and according to the Centers for Disease Control, affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the US today. It’s called a spectrum disorder because its strengths and challenges vary from sensory sensitivities to medical & mental health issues and sleep disorders and are influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Like life, it can be complicated!
I’m grateful to be speaking with Dorci Hill on this topic on my next podcast on April 11th. April is also World Autism Month so how exactly are sleep and autism connected? Allow me to share a few thoughts now and next week with Dorci.
“Autism is as much a part of humanity as is the capacity to dream.” Kathleen Seidel
At first, I thought autism was something I couldn’t help with but realized that the contribution I could make could not only actually help the person with this developmental disorder but also the people who are caregivers who are often forgotten. Caregiving is what I provide to my elderly parents so I know how you feel at the end of each day physically, mentally and spiritually.
Both the children with ASD and the elderly share similar characteristics when it comes to social interaction and communication. You already know the challenges, I’m here to highlight the importance of your part in this and what you can DO to care for yourself first.
“Caregiving often calls us to lean into love we didn’t know possible.” Tia Walker
Caregiver’s roles and challenges are the same whether you look after a child on the ASD spectrum, look after elderly parents or care for someone with Alzheimer’s. In a Stanford study of Alzheimers Disease and dementia caregivers, up to 40 % of the caregivers die before the patient. The extraordinary stress alone is enough!
Here’s what YOU need to do now to truly love and care for others:
- Start with getting enough sleep and rest. Your brain and your emotions will play tricks if you are deprived of sleep. If this is a challenge, get some help whether it’s respite services in your area, family support or health coaching.
- Invest in your own self-care and health. Check out my Power of SHE gift as a starter. Get outdoors for a walk or gentle exercise, sit quietly for a few minutes each day and eat organic, fresh fruits and vegetables and meat free of chemical additives and hormones.
- Let go of guilt and forgive everyone for their ignorance. Let go of perfection and celebrate every win, big and small! Here’s more on forgiveness techniques, something I’ll share more in the future.
Of course, there is much more to self-care than above, but the important thing is to start. The system needs to recognize caregivers needs more but I believe we need to take 100% responsibility ourselves AND ask for help. You know you are doing the best you can from your heart, asking for help is a strength.
“You don’t have to do it all by yourself.” Elizabeth Dehn
Let me help you take care of yourself!