Autism is like Combat and I’m Exhausted

I recently read an article that compared the stress a combat soldier experiences to the stress of a parent of an autistic child.  In no way are the two situations or experiences the same, the study compared the stress levels and the effects on the body.

Autism Moms Have Stress Similar to Combat Soldiers

We are stressed.  I know I am complaining, but this was not a fun summer.  Therapy, illnesses, sleep deprivation, moving and no break from our routine.  Our life is not so bad, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but sometimes the stress of a special needs child gets to me.  I have a lot of support, and get a lot of support but still, it is overwhelming.

My husband and I rarely get sick, but we’ve been sick twice in  the past month.  I had bronchitis and he was sick over a week with a bad chest cold.  He gets no sleep due to Ava’s night wakings and he has to go to work in the morning.  He works late hours.  We don’t get any time together.

I am exhausted – taking care of Ava, cooking, cleaning and scheduling.  I sometimes have no time to go to the bathroom.  I forget to brush my teeth.  What is most disturbing – my hair is falling out.  There is a huge clump of hair in my shower drain every morning.  I don’t touch my hair to style it because I will end up in my hands.  I take vitamins, when I remember, but I know stress makes my hair fall out.

Life is all about balance.  Right now, we have no balance.  It is all work, therapy and duties.  Poor Ava barely gets time to play – and Mommy and Daddy do not have any time to relax.  Once she is in school, in January, things should get better I suppose.

But nothing can take away the worry.  What is going to happen to my child?  Will she ever talk?  Will she ever be able to go to the toilet?  Will she ever be able to take care of herself?  I am working day and night to point her in that direction, but still there are no guarantees, no crystal ball.  If only something would take the worry away — give me security that everything will be OK with my sweet girl.

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Kim Cristo
Kim Cristo is the mother to a child with autism and a neurotypical child. She advocates for the rights of autistic individuals and their families.
Kim Cristo

Kim Cristo

Kim Cristo is the mother to a child with autism and a neurotypical child. She advocates for the rights of autistic individuals and their families.

0 thoughts on “Autism is like Combat and I’m Exhausted

  • I know you posted a while ago, but I feel your pain. It’s hard to take care of ourselves when our focus has to be on our children. I am a mother of 3, and 2 are (soon to be officially diagnosed) autistic. My kids are 9mo, 2 and 5. Sometimes it just helps to hear other people being honest about their stress instead of staying so annoyingly optimistic all the time. This is real life.

  • You are an amazing mother. I can tell this just from how much you care about your child and how hard you work for her well-being.

    I wish there was something I could do to help you. I’m going into occupational therapy and hoping to work with special needs kids at some point. Maybe there’d be someone in your area hoping to do something similar that would be willing to come over and give you a break for a few hours a day. I know if it were me, I could use the volunteer hours and the experience. Maybe there’d be a student or someone looking for something like that?

    Kinda sounds like you don’t have a lot of time for this, but it might be worth looking into finding a support group in your area for parents of special needs kids.

    I think everything will be okay. Not to say it’s going to be easy. I might never be easy. But it sounds like you are taking all the right steps and you and your husband care so much for her. I think things will work out. Hang in there, you can do this.

    You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  • I’m not sure this makes sense in your situation – but could you hire a live-in or daily helper? I know a family with a severely autistic son who has done this and it seems to have helped to take the burden off of the parents. If you want to be functional to help Ava to the best of your abilities, you need to take care of yourself. Something like that could help you be able to do so.

  • This month I posted an article entiled What it is like to be a Special Needs mom on our blog  I invite you to read it and write a comment to help others see how difficult it can be. Lorna d’Entremont


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