I am often asked about the keys to thriving on the journey of raising and caring for a child with autism. Having walked this walk for over 35 years, I see now that thriving was very much a one step at a time process.
One of the keys for me was having lots of help with the care and education of Kyle. This help enabled me to get regular breaks from my intense hands on responsibilities. These breaks were sometimes for my own personal needs, time with my husband or to devote time and attention to my younger two daughters.
Reflecting back over the years, I was in an almost constant state of looking for people to work with and care for Kyle. These people (maybe a few 100 by now) helped me create the best life possible for my family.
Never giving up was an important key and life theme here. There were times when I had little to no help but I kept on taking one step after another to find people. While I couldn’t pull them out of a hat (darn!), I did find that if I just stayed with this intention, eventually I would find someone. The ups and downs of discouragement, did not stop me from continuing. To date, this is how it goes.
Here is where things can get sticky.
Parents of kiddos on the autism spectrum, or maybe parents in general, or perhaps humans in general, at times, believe they are super heroes and should have the ability to do it “all” on their own. This might sound exaggerated but I notice the tendency in myself and others to resist or be hesitant about asking for help. Or we expect people to offer and almost intuit what’s needed without being specifically asked.
This past weekend, I was reminded of how important it is to have support people on Kyle’s team. I was also reminded of the significance of The Ask.
Kyle was up all night on Saturday night. With a party for one going on in his room, I was frequently awakened by loud whooping and clacking (that would be the shutters.) I made several trips across the house, trying to persuade him to get back to bed and go to sleep. It wasn’t happening.
Therefore, I started Sunday as a sleep deprived zombie. A few hours into the day, my Sunday caregiver had a vehicle breakdown and informed me she wasn’t sure if she was going to make it. If it is possible for a heart to sink into the belly, that is where mine went.
Just a minute later, I received a text from one of my fill in gals who was set to come later on in the day anyway. Replying, I happened to mention the situation I was in- sleep deprivation, etc. Out of respect for her church routine on Sundays, it didn’t even occur to me to ask her to come sooner.
Thank goodness, she took it upon herself to volunteer to change her hours so she could come right over. That’s right, come right over, as in within 15 minutes! Somehow feeling my pain and need through the text, she made that offer. Flooded with relief, I accepted. It turned out to be a win-win for both of us.
If she hadn’t offered, I doubt I would have asked.
The Ask has the potential to make life smoother and allow others to step in and help. People may not, on their own, know what’s needed. However there may be a genuine desire to help.
Giving and receiving, receiving and giving. The Ask promotes this dance of life. It fosters person to person connection and taking meaningful action to help another.
The Ask seems like a no brainer. So simple and potentially, so deeply impactful. Yet it is amazing how we don’t like to ask. It is amazing the fuss our ego puts up. Whether we realize we are listening to it or not, ego is often chatting away in the background. We are so used to that voice, we barely realize we are allowing it to run the shows of our lives. The voice of ego is like fake news and best not taken too seriously.
The Ask goes well beyond the context of living with autism. It is a life skill.
Sometimes we just need a sounding board, perhaps even a hug. Sometimes it’s a matter of asking for a resource that will lead us another step down the road.
What would help make life run a bit smoother?
Where would support be helpful?
Who might help?
It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Are you interested in diving deeper into any of the topics I talk about in these blog posts?
Are you struggling or feeling stuck?
Are you needing some support in moving forward in any area of life?
I am a coach and my job is to help people get more out of themselves than they might get on their own. Interested in a conversation? Just ask. ;-)
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.