As a caregiver, you know the difficulties of raising a child with special needs. In fact, you know better than anyone. The sensitivities, the unexplained behavior, the stigma, the all-too-public meltdowns. Now, imagine taking care of someone on the spectrum while being on the spectrum yourself.
That’s Greg Love’s story. After discovering his son’s diagnosis and learning about autism, he soon discovered that he, himself, lives with it – a discovery that is not uncommon in the autistic community. Not only has this diagnosis – or lack thereof – created unique challenges throughout his life, like having a hard time bonding with his roommates or taking notes in class, but it presents extremely emotional challenges for him as a father.
How does an autistic father communicate love for his child? Joy in success? Anger with misbehavior? How does he focus on two children when multitasking isn’t just difficult – it’s just not possible? How does he feel successful as a parent when his children would rather share their emotions with their mother?
These are all important hurdles for caregivers on the spectrum. But it’s also important to remember that it’s not just autism. Caregivers are more prone to mental problems, like anxiety, depression and substance abuse, which can lead to other, equally important challenges for both caregivers and their loved ones.
That’s why it’s important to remember to take care of yourself first. Our health tool and personal health courses are here to help you remember to take care of your own health a little bit every day. Never forget how important you are, and how important your health is to your happiness and the happiness of the people who depend on you.
Are you living with autism or mental illness? Let us know how you balance your needs with those of the person you care for in the comments, below.