Ignition Gamers Logo

Parenting a Neurodivergent Child – Why YOUR Self-Care Matters 

Parenting a neurodivergent child is a rewarding but demanding and challenging journey. Children diagnosed with neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit/hyperactive disorder (ADHD), cerebral palsy, and other learning difficulties often need significant support from their parents or caregivers. The unique needs and experiences of neurodivergent individuals mean as a parent, you must be more resilient, patient, and compassionate when meeting their emotional, physical, social and learning needs.  

So when so much of your time and energy is spent caring for your child, it’s easy to forget about your own wellbeing. But self-care is essential for parents of neurodivergent children. In this blog post, we’re exploring the importance of self-care and giving you seven practical tips to help you prioritise your wellbeing while supporting your child. 

Why Self-Care Matters for Parents of Neurodivergent Children 

Parenting a neurodivergent child can be emotionally and physically draining. The constant demands, appointments, and advocacy for your child’s needs can leave you overwhelmed and burnt out.  

New Curtin University-led research has found: 

‘…that 80 per cent of caregivers experienced poor wellbeing, high levels of stress and poor mental health. More than 22 per cent also experienced negative stigma from their local community, increasing the feeling of social isolation.

Many parents don’t realise that self-care isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Here’s why it matters:

You Can’t Pour from an Empty Cup

Cliché as it may sound, it’s true. If you’re not caring for yourself, you’ll have less to give to your child and your family. By prioritising self-care, you’ll be better equipped to provide the support and understanding your neurodivergent child needs. 

Stress Management

Parenting a neurodivergent child comes with unique stressors. Self-care techniques such as relaxation exercises, mindfulness, meditation, or even a simple walk can help you manage stress effectively. 

Modelling Healthy Behaviour

By practising self-care, you’re setting an example for your child. Observing your actions will teach them the importance of caring for their wellbeing.  

For example, there is an indication that mindfulness is effective for children on the autism spectrum, as it increases self-insight and reduces rumination and emotional reactivity. As a caregiver, modelling your own mindfulness strategies sets an excellent foundation for helping your neurodivergent child embrace mindfulness-based practices and therapies. 

7 Practical Self-Care Tips for Parents of Neurodivergent Children

Now that we’ve established why self-care is essential let’s explore seven practical tips to help you prioritise it in your daily life: 

 Schedule Regular “Me” Time 

Getting caught up in your child’s schedule, therapy sessions and school meetings is so easy. However, carving out dedicated time for yourself is essential. Schedule it on your calendar just like you would any other appointment. Make it non-negotiable whether it’s a few hours or even 30 minutes a day. And don’t be afraid to ask other family members or friends to help you.  

Connect with a Support Network

You’re not alone on this journey. Reach out to support groups, online communities, or other parents who are going through similar experiences. Sharing your challenges and triumphs with others who understand can be incredibly therapeutic.

For example, if you live in Canberra, there is an online group specifically for Canberra autism spectrum parents and relatives. With over 3.7k members, the group is specifically for people in the area who are relatives of, or are in an unpaid caring role for people on the autism spectrum and for those who are on the autism spectrum themselves. It is a place to connect with other people in the community, share information, useful links, handy hints – even good shows coming up on TV – anything that adds value to the community! 

Delegate When Possible

It’s okay to ask for help. Enlist the support of friends, family members, or trusted caregivers to share the responsibilities of caring for your child. Delegating tasks can free up time for self-care without feeling guilty.

Prioritise Sleep

Quality sleep is a cornerstone of self-care. Ensure that you’re getting enough rest to recharge your energy levels. If you have difficulty falling asleep, try meditation, sleep stories or white noise like that offered by the popular Calm app. If sleep issues are typical for your child, consider creating a sleep routine that benefits both of you.

Engage in Stress-Relief Activities 

Find activities that help you relax and relieve stress. This could be practising yoga, going for a run, journaling your thoughts, or enjoying a favourite hobby. Even short breaks during the day can make a big difference. Check out this article on 15-Stress-Reducing Activities You Can Do at Home for more ideas. 

Set Boundaries

Establishing healthy boundaries is vital. Communicate your needs to your child, partner, and anyone else involved in your child’s care. Let them know when you need time for self-care and ask for their support in respecting those boundaries.

Seek Professional Help

Don’t hesitate to consult a therapist or counsellor if you’re feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope. Professional support can provide you with valuable tools and strategies to navigate the challenges of parenting a neurodivergent child. 

Parenting a Neurodivergent Child? Make Self-Care Your Priority

Parenting or caring for a neurodivergent child is a journey filled with love, challenges, and growth. While your primary focus naturally revolves around providing the best possible support for your child, it’s essential to recognise that self-care isn’t a selfish act; it’s a vital one.  

By taking care of your own wellbeing, you’ll be better equipped to support your child and family more effectively. Always remember that you’re an essential part of your child’s support system, and taking care of yourself allows you to be the best parent you can be. 

So, parents of neurodivergent children, listen up: your wellbeing matters, too. By practising self-care, you can continue to be the loving and supportive parent your child needs while maintaining your own physical and emotional health. It’s a win-win for both you and your child!  

Don’t forget – we’re here to help! If your neurodivergent teen or young adult loves gaming and they’re NDIS-supported – they can join us! While they’re busy making new friends, building their skills and doing something they love, you can schedule some much-needed ‘me time’. Sounds good, right? 

Ignition Gamers Logo

Ignition Gamers

Related post

Gaming for Autistic Individuals - Benefits of Gaming - Ignition Gamers
Video Gaming

Therapeutic Benefits of Gaming

Gaming has long been considered entertainment, but its therapeutic potential extends beyond fun and escapism. In recent years, researchers and mental health professionals have recognised

Read More »