One of the least discussed aspects of Autism Spectrum Disorder is how isolating it is for parents. As the parent of a 20-year-old with Autism Spectrum, I have struggled with loneliness and isolation for many years. It can be hard to put yourself into social situations when you know your Autistic child will have difficulty. It is far easier to just stay home and avoid social situations. Many parents cause their social lives to vanish due to this challenge. Here are some ways to overcome Autism-related isolation.
Go Places That Are Easy for Your Child. Even in the most severe cases, there are at least a couple of places that are possible to go to. One of these for our family has always been public parks. Since my son has no physical challenges, I found I could always go to a park. Start wherever you can because it is essential to get out of the house. Fast food restaurants such as McDonald's were also pretty "do-able" even in the early years.
Join Groups Solo Join groups that have interests similar to yours. It is certainly not necessary to tell every person you meet that you have an Autistic child. I used to blurt this out unnecessarily even when it was not relevant. Try to join some groups by yourself that have nothing to do with Autism. It is important for parents to get out and have respite care come in so that parents may have some relief.
Join Autism Groups
One of the easiest things to do from a social standpoint is to join Autism groups. No one in these groups judges you or the child and it is a pretty accepting situation overall. The difficulty comes with facing the fact that you have this situation. Some people are in denial and don't want to join the groups that could help them. This happened to me, in fact. With the perspective of time I can say that I should have joined more helpful groups than I did but I just couldn't face it.
Develop Relaxing Hobbies One of the best things to do from a self- care standpoint is to get reliable child care and go out without the child. An exercise class would be absolutely ideal as it would allow the parent to work off stress. Take in a daily exercise class outside the home for a refreshing change. Also good is a spiritual class or trip to a place of worship.
The above are some of the options for decreasing isolation for parents of Autistic children. Go to places that are easy for the child. Join groups solo and then incorporate the child later as appropriate. Join Autism groups as well. Go to places that are healthy. Decreasing feelings of isolation is possible but it will take planning and effort.