Well it is official – 2011 has arrived! Happy New Year to all of our AutismSpot readers!
As talk of resolutions abound, my husband has decided to “be more patient with Ethan.” Ethan has shared that he wants to “listen better.”
As, I’ve been considering what kind of resolutions I will focus on for myself and my role in our family, I come to the conclusion that I am resolved to find a healthy balance.
Like many caregivers for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, I take it upon myself not only to cook, clean, and care for our home and everyone inside, but also to offer Ethan a healthy, specialized diet with 15-20 daily supplements; research and implement new therapies; research toxins and our environment as it relates to Ethan and our family’s health; contact law makers regarding important legislation in regard to Autism, toxins and the environment, and education; participate in local support groups for sharing, learning and [um...] support; read books and articles about new therapies, theories, and ideas; and the list goes on…and on…and on!
The problem with that is that all of the things I mention above – while they’re very necessary and benefit my son on a daily basis – these things take, take, take but don’t often “give back” to my needs.
So, in 2011 I am resolved to focus more on MY diet, on MY health and MY wellbeing, too. I’ve heard it said numerous times that if a caregiver is not healthy, she won’t be able to care for her child with ASD…but it all really “hit home” when I heard Dr. Julie Buckley speak on the topic at the National Autism Association The Tenacity of Hope conference in Florida last November. Dr. Buckley, a Pediatrician, works to balance maintaining a professional life with caring for and recovering her daughter with ASD. She is a recent cancer survivor and knows all too well that caring for the caregiver should be one of most important pieces in any child’s Autism puzzle – but all too often is neglected. In a conference review last month, I summarized Dr. Buckley’s terrific presentation here.
Therefore, while it can be very stressful to raise a smart, spunky little boy with Asperger’s Syndrome and Sensory Processing Disorder, I am resolved to counteract that stress by finding a more healthy balance in 2011.
I vow to breathe. Deep, cleansing breaths are a powerful tool for calm, health and overall wellbeing.
I vow to stretch (and exercise) more. Living with Ankylosing Spondylitis (an autoimmune disease similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis) means that taking care of my body with stretching and exercise is a must. I’m working to retrain myself to view it as a non-negotiable!
I vow to allow myself some (guilt-free) down time. Whether meeting a friend for coffee or lunch, going to a movie with my husband or watching some of my favorite DVR’d TV shows – while allowing my mind to wander away from Autism for 45 minutes – I’m going to enjoy life outside of Autism!
In addition to these resolutions, I also have some professional writing goals that I’ve set for myself in relation to books I’m working to get published, but those are in a separate "resolutions" category. I truly believe that I can work to better myself in all areas, the main three being 1) raising Ethan to be healthy, happy and independent (which could be an entire post in and of itself!); 2) growing and developing my career as a writer; 3) taking care of myself (so that I can continue to do numbers 1 & 2 for years to come).
What are your 2011 New Year’s Resolutions? Do you categorize your goals (like I do) or do you lump them all together?
How do you maintain a healthy balance in your life?
Leigh Attaway Wilcox is a writer and editor for the projectLD family of companies. Leigh is Assistant Editor of the internationally acclaimed AutismSpot.com and her work can be found on many of the pLDNetworks sites. Leigh is a guest blogger for the Dallas Morning News on the Dallas Moms Blog and is the author of ALL BETTER: A Touch-and-Heal Book published by Piggy Toes Press in 2007. Leigh lives in North Texas with her husband and young son who loves reading, LEGOs, Mario Bros. and also happens to live with Asperger's Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder.