AT HOME WITH
Who would have imagined the number of choices I would have to endure while trying to pick out new carpet? Texture, color, padding size, installation, stain-free, there were so many options. More importantly, would I be happy with my choice three years down the road? This, apparently small task became draining and overwhelming. I wanted to make the right decision. It began to take over my thoughts at random times throughout the day and I started doubting each decision I made. Should I even install carpet? What about wood flooring? I found I could question myself in circles. Often starting in one spot, going full-circle and ending up right back where I started with little progress. Overtime, I was able to see that this applied to much more than carpet. It applied to many of my life decisions. I was the over thinker.
Over thinker: n. one who thinks things through too meticulously to the point that tasks can become daunting or unaccomplished if careful self-observation is not conducted.
What, you might ask, does this have to do with Autism Spectrum Disorders? I hear many parents, friends, teachers, therapists, and individuals impacted by ASD going through the same questions and doubts on a daily basis. Instead of installing new carpet, they are trying to decide how to best treat their son, daughter, friend or patient who has been impacted by autism.
“Do I assess now or wait, like the doctor advised, for six more months?” “Where do I start with treatment?” “Do they need speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, applied behavior analysis, or psychology services?” “What if I choose the wrong treatment to start?” “Do I challenge the IEP or trust that it will all work out?”
The choices are never ending and it becomes easy to talk yourself into circles, often ending up without any answers and feeling overwhelmed and lost. Today, I want to offer five strategies that will help you get out of the cycle of circular thinking and onto a path of linear progression.
1. Trust your gut.
Almost always, I tell parents, if you think your child might have autism, seek an assessment. Do not wait. The earlier diagnosis is given, the sooner your child can receive treatment giving him or her a chance for better outcomes. Likewise, if you feel like something is not going well at school or in therapy, ask to visit. Your gut may be right. If it is not, erring on the side of caution won’t hurt anything.
2. Find a consultant or specialist.
Create a plan together, conduct skills assessments and move forward with fervor. Set action steps, goals and dates and share them with everyone involved in the life of the individual impacted by ASD.
3. Connect with others.
You are not alone. Millions of parents, teachers and therapists are experiencing similar battles. While they may never truly understand your exact circumstances, they can often relate to what you are going through and that is a refuge in itself. Hearing their experiences may help you become more confident in your decisions and less likely to keep spinning in circles.
4. Take care of you.
It’s easy to get lost in the daily grind, to go through the motions and to get on that merry-go-round and let it keep spinning. You fear that if you let yourself relax, it will disrupt the daily routine that is preventing a monstrous meltdown. You worry about who will take over if you can’t get done with everything you feel needs to get done in a day. However, we must remember, when we feel whole we are better parents, partners, friends, individuals and so forth. To feel whole, we must take care of ourselves. Listen to ourselves. Feed our souls.
5. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
Most of us do not want to “inconvenience others” with our worries or struggles. There is a sense of guilt that we feel when others take over. We feel indebted to that person, ultimately creating more work for ourselves in the long run. Letting go of those feelings and allowing others to help may not be an easy feat in the beginning, but it’s one that will eventually be a rewarding experience for not only yourself, but the people you ask for help.
It won’t always be easy. You will probably still feel overwhelmed from time to time. But do your research and everything will be fine. If I spent my whole life looking at carpets samples, I would never have time for the family I’m trying to build the perfect house for.
We ended up deciding to wait on new carpet until our children are older, so all of the worrying was all for not. I’m content with my decision. I came to realize that in order to move forward in life, we must make decisions and either learn from them or become content with them. And sometimes there really isn’t a “right” answer for our questions. What is “right” is different for all of us. So, to sum it all up, don’t waste too much time worrying and just remember to support, love and appreciate the person you know who is impacted by autism.