"I get it. As a parent of two boys diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, the pull to isolate is very real. It can be easy just to stay locked up in our little world with our own routines and habits because the world out there can be stressful for a family like ours. The problem is that isolating is not good for our physical or mental health in the long run. Here are some tips to jump start getting our minds and bodies in a good place to interact with others so we can reap the benefits of living a more social life as parents raising kids with special needs.
Exercise a great activity to do with a friend to break up the day to day routines and demands of caregiving. It can provide the much-needed outlet of conversation that relates to topics other than those that we typically spend most of our day thinking about as parents of children with special needs. Also, exercise releases endorphins in our brain which acts as a natural stress reliever as has been shown to decrease symptoms of depression
Join a Support Group
Support groups provide the opportunity to gain information and relate directly to people going through the same circumstances that you are. By reaching out in this way, you can find other parents that can offer tips, a shoulder to cry on, and maybe a new friend to socialize with outside of the group.
Find a Hobby
We need to take a break now and then from the role of caregiver and remind ourselves that we have a life that can be complimented with creative pursuits that can bring us joy. Think about something you’ve always wanted to try; maybe take singing lessons, a photography class, or even try learning a new language. Having this outlet to focus on gives our minds the break it needs and allows us to socialize with others with similar interest while providing stress relief
Sometimes helping others that are struggling with their own life circumstances can provide a sense of oneness with those around us. It can remind us that we’re not alone in our struggles and that we can gain immense personal satisfaction and joy by helping others through their hardships. You can volunteer at a nursing home and provide companionship for those who are lonely or at a shelter or food kitchen. There are many opportunities to give back to the community and find ways to “pay it forward” for those times that people have given a helping hand to you and your family.
Ask For and Accept Help
You won’t be able to participate in any of these activities if you don’t have some help. When someone offers to pick up the kids for you so you can have lunch with a friend, take them up on it. If you have a class you want to attend, ask for help so you can get there. Reach out to your support system and let them help you along this journey."