The challenge my husband and I have been facing lately is this: how do we motivate our son, who has autism, to do well in school, without causing him to feel suicidal. Parents of normal children are going to immediately wonder what we are saying or doing that could possibly make him feel that way. Obviously we must be doing something wrong to cause him such distress. But for those of you who have kids on the spectrum, or are on the spectrum yourselves, you recognize a typical symptom of autism – emotions, as in everything else in life, are black or white, all or nothing. In other words, he feels great, or depressed. There is no in between.
Our son either doesn’t worry at all about his schoolwork, or worries himself to the point of wishing that he were in heaven. Thankfully, with a few extra hugs and reassurances that his dad and I will be there to help him manage his time so that he will get everything done, he is usually able to get some sleep at night. Seeing him struggle has helped my recognize that the times I feel overwhelmed are often due more to my autism than real circumstances, too. I also realized that I have discovered some coping mechanisms that I hope will help him, too. So here are some things I plan to tell him, in hopes that it will help him out when he feels like life is more than he can handle:
- Realize that your feeling the autism more than reality.
- You can’t stop the feeling, but you can ignore it.
- Make sure to get plenty of rest and food, as being tired and hungry just makes everything seem worse.
- Sometimes it helps to tell yourself a little lie, like: I’ll just work on this for a second and then take a break. (The thing with autism is that it is difficult to change tasks, so once you trick yourself into starting, you will most likely complete the task).
- It’s always good to tell yourself the truth: if I fail at this, God is still going to love me, and so are my parents and friends. So while failure won’t be fun, it really isn’t the end of the world. God has good plans for me and can work bad situations into good ones.
- If you really don’t have time to complete it all at once, set up a schedule and make yourself stick to it. Start whether you want to or not, and stop when you need to, whether you want to or not. With practice this will be less uncomfortable.
- The more you get done, the more energized you will feel and the more you will want to get done, so just start!
Does anyone have any tips on keeping yourself from feeling overwhelmed when you have a large task to complete?