“You have to rely on your support system. Growing up, I always thought it was a sign of weakness to ask for help, but now I realize it's really a sign of strength to say, 'I need help, I can't do it all’.” - Kerri Walsh
Living with a family member who has been diagnosed is a challenging situation for families with all the issues involved. A feeling of isolation sets in among the family (especially the parents) as they feel no one understands what they are going through on a daily basis with its own set of challenges. Having a strong support system is the much-needed soothing balm needed by them and in fact by all of us.
The benefits of a support system include:
· Stress reduction. A strong support system/network acts as a major stress buster. Talking, sharing, and spending time with friends & families does reduce anxiety as well as enhance our mood. A strong social support network helps in the ‘dark or low days” as well as decompress if we are having a rough or bad day. Sharing a cup of coffee with a friend, a walk in the park with a neighbor or a hobby class are examples of ways to reduce stress with your loved ones.
· Enhance overall health. The feeling of having a strong & good support system of friends, relatives, neighbors, or co-workers boosts overall physical health and emotional wellbeing. Knowing that someone is there for us makes us relaxed and takes care of our important physical health needs. Depression, high blood pressure, etc can all be kept at bay with the help of love & loved ones.
· The support system helps out from time to time as per their availability and involvement. Having helpful people who are willing to take time out and make our lives comfortable is such a blessing. For example, helping out with groceries or chores, cleaning the home or the yard or looking after the children, or taking them out. Anything and everything. Scheduling volunteers is a great way to organize & simplify our lives in the long run.
· Feeling of being connected. A strong support network makes us feel that we are not alone in our journey. There are people who have our back and can be counted on. With such a feeling, we can thrive, become better caregivers, feel at ease, put our best foot forward and make each day a soul-fulfilling day.
· Access to information. Support groups or parents of other children with ASD are a great source of information, help, and moral support. Tips and information on various therapies, programs & medical developments are all accessed through ASD support groups (online and offline).
If you know a person who has a family member on the spectrum, reach out. Offer to volunteer in any way you deem fit as per your convenience or just spend time with them. Pass on your positive energy to them and make the world a better place.