Self-Care for Individuals, Families, and Professionals

A Better Me, A Better You

As we dedicate energy to increasing autism awareness and celebrating autism acceptance during the month of April, let us also take a moment to pause to reflect on our own self – our own awareness, acceptance, and most importantly, care.

Self-care is vital for the well-being of any individual, family member, and professional. Sometimes with autism, the experiences and emotions one might feel can make the ability to practice self-care seem unattainable.

For parents and caregivers, the focus is often on the needs of the family member with autism, setting aside his or her own needs while underestimating the effect this can have on self-care, often leading to higher levels of stress, depression, and lower levels of quality of life. These feelings are similar to those experienced by autistic individuals struggling with self-care for reasons such as anxiety, depression, sensory sensitivity, and following everyday habits. Professionals supporting people with autism, including teachers, child care providers, job coaches, intervention specialists, and aides in care settings are not immune to these same feelings, often needing strategies to build resiliency, manage stress, and increase their overall well-being.

The experience of each can be vastly different, but finding a balanced life and positive coping methods can go a long way to changing these feelings. Be prepared though - this might not be a quick fix. Similar to running a marathon, you will want to start slow and pace yourself. Change can be challenging, but taking small, consistent steps toward starting a new habit can be beneficial for your mental and physical well-being.

In celebration of Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month, OCALI’s Autism and Family & Community Outreach Centers are here to help you with this journey by sharing some simple ideas to promote a healthy self, refuel, and connect. We encourage you to explore one during the month, finding what might work for you, and taking the first step to starting a new habit toward self-care. No matter what self-care is for you, set your goal, find your pace, and practice regularly – you will be a better YOU for making the change. When you are the best version of yourself, you can give your best to others.