The day after we received my son’s diagnosis, I didn’t blow dry my hair. I just put it back in a bun and thought, “Well,I’d better get used to this. The sound of the dryer is always going to bother him, so I might as well give up on looking presentable.” (Clearly I am not dramatic at all..she says with a dramatic flair.)
At the time, it seemed reasonable. It seemed entirely possible that my whole life as I knew it was over.
I was speaking with a momma of a newly diagnosed little boy recently. She was overwhelmed (as we all were/are) and a little panicky (as we all were/are) and felt like all the things were taking over all her days.
“It’s not his diagnosis. It’s everything else. I feel like with autism, there is no room for all the normal things like cooking dinner and laundry and getting ready in the morning and date night and…and…and…” she said tearfully.
I nodded and tried so hard to assure her that it will get better. That she will figure it out. That it might not be the same, but different doesn’t means less than or that you are somehow doing it wrong.
I am not sure I helped. In my desire to encourage and comfort her, I forgot to tell her that there are some dirty little secrets that get me through my days.
I forgot that sometimes, especially in the beginning, the practical seems to matter more than the spiritual.
I forgot that sometimes, you just need to hear another momma say it is OK to let your child eat ice cream if that is all they seem to want and can tolerate. Or you can let your son play Minecraft at 4:00 in the morning because you need to sleep and you can’t function for one more minute.
Sometimes the practical, daily life tips and tricks make the most impact.
And so, with that in mind, here is what I would share about living life, day in and day out, as an autism momma.
Life Hacks for the Autism Mom
1. The right headphones for your child can literally change your world.
Find the ones that work (and if your child is anything like my son, there will probably only be one set on the planet that will work just right with your child’s ear sensitivity – but trust me, it’s worth it to scour the land and find them) and stock up. Have a pair for the bedroom and another in the car, at all times. Your child can pop them anytime there is too much noise, or just needs to check out. It’s amazing what a good pair of noise cancelling head phones can do.
Also, I have found that turning up an audio book really, really loud in the car helps to tune out all the other noises (and distract him with a story) if he is not able to tolerate the headphones for a time.
And it means, if you have the energy, you can blow dry your hair.
2. It’s OK to hide in the bathroom for as long as necessary.
I actually sent a text just last week to my friends that said, “I have reached a new low. I just lied to my son and told him I have diarrhea in order to get more time alone in the bathroom this afternoon.”
I am not proud of it.
But you know what? I needed it. My friends texted back and confirmed, without laughing at me, that hiding in the bathroom. and even lying about bodily functions, is just something we sometimes have to do.
Taking a moment to yourself is always better than trying to push through when you feel like you are crumbling. Even if you have to fake stomach problems to do it.
3. Screen time is not always the demon we make it out to be.