Basically, this is just advice I wish someone had driven into my skull about three years ago :)
* Don't be afraid to take your entire family out in public. Yes, you may get stares from people. Yes, it may be hard, but your child needs these experiences. Start out small. I started taking Boog to a place that serves brunch (Boog and bacon have a relationship) and it's pretty quiet around 10:30 during the week. It's after the breakfast crowd and before lunch. I found a table in the back and we had brunch. I was SO nervous that day...but that was about a year ago. We now go frequently and some days it's kinda loud and Boog has learned to adjust. Yes, we do still get stares when he gets excited and flaps his sweet little hands (again...it's BACON), but I try to think about the stares like this : Don't all beautiful children get stares? :)
* Now if someone is inappropriate, makes a comment, tells you to better discipline your child...try not to attack them like a lioness when a hyena is near her cub (not that I've done that...). At first, just ignore them as they have NO idea what they're talking about. When it gets easier, you can sometimes use this as an opportunity to educate. Lack of education is why we get these stares and comments. My line is "Hi, this is Boog. He's on the autism spectrum and has some sensory issues. If you would like to know more about Autism I have a blog all about it." And I hand them my card. Yes, I have a card and I'm actually about to have to order more. It has my name, email and blog URL. Maybe if enough people get educated, we won't have to get the stares and the lioness can stay calm and retract her claws ;)
* Let your child interact with other kids. They NEED it for so many reasons. The friends can be other special needs children, or neurotypical kids, or both. Find an activity that your child and other children both enjoy. You can go to the park, a bounce house, playing in a kiddie pool, or maybe some simple arts and crafts. Most children love these! Even if you need to assist your child to participate in the fun, it will be helping in so many areas. Your child will have fun and build confidence while the other children will learn and be more comfortable with kids that aren't exactly like them. And you will feel good watching your little baby having fun with peers. It really benefits all involved.
* Don't get frustrated if you feel like your husband isn't talking about issues that involve your child enough. Men and women are very different. Women want to get it ALL out there and conquer it and just shout it from the rooftops until we fix the problem. In contrast, men are dealing with grief and anger because they can't "fix it". Most men are raised to be the head of the household and to protect the wife and kids. This is something he can't fix and it will take time for him to understand that and eventually accept it. Try to give him time and be patient. The next tip helps with this.
* Involve your husband in activities you do with your child that aren't therapy or doctor related. Some ideas are bath time, reading a book, playing with toys. This will make both of you feel like everything is not just about the doctors and the therapist and books and diets. Just a Mommy and a Daddy sitting in the floor playing with blocks with their little one. Just like everyone else.
* Try to plan a night without children. You both NEED it. You got married because you loved each other. You love "Steve" for who he is and he loves "Mary" for who she is. You need a night to be Steve and Mary...not Mom and Dad. A night alone will allow you to remember just why you walked down that isle. Even if it's only once a month, you need this. Trust me.
* If a whole night alone isn't possible, work with the time you have. Plan ahead! Get the kiddo(s) in bed early. Forget about the dishes and all the other stuff you do at night. You'd be surprised how relaxing two hours can be if you do enough planning ahead. Get take-out so you don't have to spend time cooking, watch a movie, or just simply talk. You two need time to catch up on aspects of life that don't involve therapies, diets, IEPs and all that... And really try to work in that Mommy/Daddy playtime that I can't really get into on this family-friendly blog. You know what I mean! It's proven that a marriage needs that kind of intimacy. Endorphins and all kinds of things improve. ;)
* And now for my most important tip of all time!!
Do not be ashamed to talk to your doctor about medication for your well being. Example: if the super sappy Hallmark Holiday commercial makes you cry or the Sarah McLachlan music sad puppy dog eyes commercial, that's usually okay! But...
If the random Home Depot commercial makes you cry for some reason, you got reeeeeeaally angry when you realized you were out of milk, and you've been experiencing some severe ups and/or downs there is something that can help you. That is what doctors and therapists are for. Please don't perceive medications for yourself as a crutch, see them as getting some maintenance for your overworked brain. If you aren't taking care of you...you know you can't care for anyone else.
AND if all else fails you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If I don't know the answer I bet I can find somebody that will.
With love and hope for all of us Super Moms,