Isolation or the perception of feeling isolated is common with parents of children with special needs. “I feel so alone” has probably been thought or said out loud millions of times just in the last week. But when I looked up the definition of the word isolation, what I found was this: the act of isolation.
If it’s an action, then that means it is in our power to do something different. It is in our power to change that sense of isolation. I am sure you are thinking, “No, when I’m stuck at home with my child who is melting down, I can’t do anything about how isolated I feel right then.” You’re right, you can’t change that moment, but what you CAN do is put a plan in place so that you’re ready for those moments.
There are so many options out there and you have to find something that will work for you. Here are a few ideas to help you develop a personalized plan. Spend a few minutes creating your personalized plan and when that feeling of isolation strikes (remember it’s just a feeling and is temporary and you DO have control over it), refer to your plan. Let’s call it the Isolation Transformation Plan.
Sample Isolation Transformation Plan
- Send a comedic or sarcastic text to an autism/SPD/homeschooling friend that totally “gets” it. Humor can work wonders.
- Get outside and get some fresh air. Something about fresh air gives a whole different perspective.
- Call a friend, family member, even an acquaintance if necessary.
- Write down what you are feeling.
- Write down what you are grateful for. Or review a gratitude list you’ve created in advance.
- Acknowledge your anger at your child and the resulting guilt for being angry. This is hard to say out loud but we’ve all experienced it in one form or another and it’s completely understandable to have those emotions. Raising a child with special needs is tough. Acknowledge it, process it, then release that anger and that guilt.
- Call a babysitter to schedule time away for you by yourself or you and your spouse. If you don’t have a babysitter, start looking for one. Look to your church or other organization for someone that might be able to babysit. Talk to your services providers about respite services. Check out online sitter services too! Don’t sit around and say there is no one who can babysit….there is someone who can and will, but they won’t come to your door unless you open it first.
- Contact your or your spouse’s EAP (Employee Assistance Program) for counseling if you’re having an especially difficult time. It’s not an immediate answer but just taking that step can bring some relief.
We’ve all been there, feeling like we are the only one in the world going through “this.” But you’re definitely not. Someone out there has gone through whatever you are going through and only you have the power to change that feeling of isolation. You have the power to act. Will your action be to isolate or….something else?