Parents who are raising a child with autism are under a lot of stress. There is the stress of the developmental delays of autism, worrying about getting their child the right therapy, finding a good school, paying for therapy and doctors, and more.
For many parents who have a child with autism, it is important to make time to pursue a personal interest or a hobby. A query on the social networking site, MyAutismTeam prompted several answers from parents of children with autism on the subject of hobbies. MyAutismTeam is a place where more than 30,000 parents of children with autism can reach out to each other, recommend doctors, schools, and therapists, and give each other moral support.
Because these parents create special user names for themselves, their full names are not usually known to users of the site and therefore are not available for use here.
It is difficult for parents to get away for private time and several parents said they have hobbies that they can either do at home or do with their children who have autism.
One parent from Pennsylvania said, “I enjoy sports and I try to include my son. He will sometimes sit and watch a game with me and I try to make it interactive. He loves to be tickled so when someone scores, catches a pass or hits a ball he gets a tickle.”
A parent from Canada has a similar situation.
“I enjoy Pilates and being active, but I find I can only go at their pace. I wind up sharing most of my hobbies, and participating in theirs. In our home you'll often find the kid and grown up version of any hobby or activity. They share my sense of adventure and curiosity. They also share many of my personality traits, so it’s easy to find common ground, but developmental issues constantly get in the way.”
It is those development delays that can prevent a parent from fully participating in their own hobby. Either there is no time to enjoy the hobby alone or it must be done with their child who cannot keep up. These parents know that safe, reliable child care is key to being able to pursue alone time.
“To totally escape, I need quality child care,” a mother from Minnesota said. “That’s difficult to find in small town America with no family available nearby and a traveling husband.”
When parents do get that alone time, they cherish it.
“I enjoy movies so I take my son to autism-sensitive kids’ movies, but on a day off while he's off I may see a movie at around 10 a.m. alone,” one parent said. “Sometimes it’s great to get away from everything for a few hours. Sometimes it's great to share and there are other times when the alone time helps me cope.”
The alone time pursuing a personal interest helps parents cope with stress, regroup, and “recharge.”
A parent from New Jersey summed it up this way.
“As the years have passed and more difficulty has come into my life my hobbies are also used as coping mechanisms because they allow me to forget, just for a moment, about the reality of my family's life. I love to run and in those miles I don't have to think about anything, just getting to the next mile or how fast my pace is.
I also enjoy interior design and fashion as I feel it is an expression of who I truly am. I do think these hobbies allow me to face my day-to-day life with much more strength and fortitude for my family.”
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