Self-Care for Individuals, Families, and Professionals

Support System

“Sometimes, reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a journey. At other times, it is allowing another to take yours.”

V. Nazarian

We all crave feeling supported, valued, and connected. Making regular connections is fuel for your mind, body and soul.


Connections could be in person or by phone, email, or social media. The goal would be a regular connection – daily or weekly. Easier said than done, right? Start by making a list of people you enjoy connecting with regularly. Now determine how you best connect with that person – is it by phone, meeting for coffee, checking in through email, or sharing a funny post on social media. Whatever it might be, make it a habit to connect with that person on a regularly basis.

Access and Outsource

Trying to find a balance between life and family is not easy and some days the weight of one might tip the scales. In those moments it is best to be present, but consider how you are coping. Remember you are not alone. Take a moment when the scales are more balanced to seek out support, ask for help, and accept it when it is offered – probably the hardest thing to do. Connect with resources in the area for yourself and the individual(s) you support. Make use of respite care even if just to run a quick errand, take a walk around the block or down the hall, or visit your health-care provider. Accessing supports to allow for a moment away can be the best thing for you, your family, and those in your care.

Start with asking family, friends, and coworkers. Provide resources to assist them with understanding you, your loved one, or the person you support. This could be a simple list of likes and dislikes or something that provides information about the individual’s routine. Encourage them to learn a little more about autism. OCALI has two tools that can help: ASD Strategies in Action: Many Faces of Autism, and ASD: A Basic Introduction For Families.


Having a set of behaviors that can be repeated and are symbolically meaningful can not only enhance your self-care by providing a sense of identity and belonging, but it also offers stability. These opportunities can nurture connections, create enjoyable moments, and strengthen values for families, individuals, and professionals. So where do you start? Chances are you already have a ritual or tradition in place. Maybe you set aside a certain time of the day when everyone is together in the same space, together you participate in a routine, or at the end of the work day you all walk out together. If you are not sure, take a moment to think about your daily or weekly routine. Is there something you could change slightly - preparing dinner, setting up for a staff meeting, or putting together a puzzle - to make it more special or fun? If you are still not sure, try to do something fun over the next few days and then start to add this activity in a little more often until it becomes a regular part of your routine. Remember it is all about the experience and excitement it brings to all when the event, activity, or tasks comes around. Keep it simple, inexpensive, inclusive, and fun!

Learn More

Ohio’s Parent Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder
Explore an overview of autism and discover a broad range of resources, supports, interventions, and services.

Advice from Parents – Challenges Can Be Overcome
In this video series, parents and siblings share their thoughts and perspectives on living with and caring for a family member with autism.

Ohio’s System of Support for People with Disabilities and Their Families
Connect with the state agencies to learn about the specific system or services that may assist you or your family member.

The Special Needs Respite Care Guide – Your Care Options, Community
It takes a village to raise a child, the same is even more true when the child has special needs. Learn more about respite care options and how you can access it.

Connect with Others – How Connections Help, Mental Health America
Learn how connecting with friends, co-workers, and family members can boost your well-being in times of stress.