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Family Therapy

By Ellen Dampf
September 1, 2021
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If you could give any piece of advice to a parent that has a child on the spectrum, what would it be?

Family therapy.  If you have other children, get them into therapy as soon as possible.  As close and as loving as a family can be, there will be challenges. Kids will be kids and they will not always understand….or like…..that there may be slight differences in response or expectations.  We have had to cancel or cut plans short because of escalations and now we, as parents, need to handle two emotional situations at once.

1. The escalation

2. The disappointment and resentment of the sibling. 

It. Will. Happen.  If you don’t happen to have other children, therapy for yourself and your spouse is just as important. Self-care and being able to process your own emotions will only benefit your child.  I didn’t take my own advice.  I was too busy, too focused on my family.  They needed me and how dare I spend that hour a week to process my own feelings. If I had started earlier, I would have made things easier on myself. Communicate differently, learn how to celebrate and grieve at the same time.  Most importantly, I always felt like I had to swoop in to save the day to make everyone happy and it was (still is) exhausting. 

I will always possess a profound love and devotion to my family. Someone recently asked me what I liked to do because I only spoke of my family.  I didn’t have an answer.  I felt a little silly.  I knew what I wanted to do. Take golf lessons, learn to knit, join a book club (ok, we all know a book club is about drinking wine!)   If I had allowed myself a little self-care without feeling the guilt, then my children could see a more balanced mother, a more rested mother. Kids are so in tune and don’t miss a beat.  They see and interpret everything we do as parents and adults and the message I want them to see from me is that they matter. Invest in yourself and you are able to invest more in your loved ones.  Step one for me was realizing this.  Step two is setting the care plan in motion, which is hard for me.

Golf and book club ( ok….wine) anyone?

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