Thursday 7 February 2019

TimeToTalk to parents of kids with SEND

What's it like to bring up a child with additional needs? It can be wonderful, amazing and full of things I never thought possible. But it can also be very tiring and stressful. And as it's mental health awareness week, it seems a good time to share.

My children will no doubt be the greatest achievement of my life. But like many parents, I've had my low moments. Not long after our eldest was diagnosed with autism I couldn't get him out of the house to go to nursery. He needed to go through some routine in his bedroom but I needed to get out and go to work and in anger, I pulled the curtains off the wall and screamed. I cried my eyes out on the phone to my mum as I drove to work after dropping him at nursery.

In the last year, after I dropped my kids at school, I came back home to pick up my wallet. I couldn't find it, tore the house apart and then finally lay down on the kitchen floor and cried.

Neither of these moments lasted long, but I can still feel the anguish as I write about them. I'm fine. I'm happy. But I know these were both caused by the simple stresses that accompany raising my gorgeous kids.

I am not alone. And I'm not affected most of the time. One in four people in the UK have a diagnosed mental health issue, but some stats say as many as undiagnosed. So for many, it's a far bigger story.

Some sources say that the chronic stress of caregiving ages mothers by ten years. Parents of autistic children get sicker, too. A 2012 study found that the parents of children with autism were more likely to get common ailments such as colds, coughs and headaches as a direct result of the increased stresses linked to their caring responsibilities. Parent carers I know directly relate their illness to this stress and anxiety. Not convinced? The NHS even list being a carer as one of potential causes of stress.

There's things I try to do to cope and I've had lots of helpful suggestions from other SEND parents, but the truth is I'm going to have to acknowledge that looking after my own mental health is something I'm going to have to do if I'm going to do the best by my kids.  And I guess that goes for a lot of parents, whether they have SEND kids or not.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post - its so relatable for many of us SEN parents. Sharing our feelings with each other is so valuble. Also thanks for including my comments. #SpectrumSunday.


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