Parents of children with autism are at a significantly increased risk of health problems, in particular mental health issues, and there is also a significantly increased risk of divorce and family breakdown. This is due to things such as stress, exhaustion and financial hardship; all part of life with a special needs child. I know parents who haven’t had a full night’s sleep since their children were born. It is thoroughly exhausting and extremely detrimental to your overall health to sustain sleep deprivation over such a long period of time. I know parents who are essentially house bound unless they are able to access respite in order to have in-home care for their children. The respite situation is another of the many things that is simply unacceptable. It is also wrong that we are paying carers an absolute pittance to be full time carers for their children with special needs, or for elderly parents etc. It is absolutely unacceptable. We have made so many fantastic advancements as a society when it comes to inclusion and accessibility for people with special needs, but we have a long way to go!
At the start of the year I was quite unwell and spent a couple of weeks in hospital. I know how tragic it sounds to say this, but this was actually the best holiday I’ve had in a long time. I didn’t even mind the fact that people routinely came in and hurt me, as for the rest of the time it was quiet. I know I was sick, but for a lot of the time I just stared at the roof, listened to music or looked out the window and just enjoyed the nothingness of it all. Towards the end of my hospital stay, I felt myself getting quite anxious about coming home because I knew it would be demanding and I’d had such a peaceful couple of weeks. Of course after a couple of days, it was like I’d never been away and all was well. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore my boys, my family … but everyone needs some time to themselves, and a chance to fully relax and recreate on a regular basis. I think I just need to make this more of a priority from now on.