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Guest Blog – Comprehensive Guide to Making a Self-Care Treatment Plan as a Parent of a Special Needs Child

Monday, August 14, 2023 10:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
Site logo image Tammy Vice - Know The Hope

Guest Blog – Comprehensive Guide to Making a Self-Care Treatment Plan as a Parent of a Special Needs Child

Information provided by Ed Carter.

Parenting is always a wonderful journey that comes with unique challenges. But there’s an added layer of difficulty when you have a child with physical or intellectual disabilities. Navigating through doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, and behavior management can take a toll on anyone’s emotional and physical well-being, and all of this can lead to chronic fatigue.

It’s crucial to prioritize self-care to ensure you’re equipped to handle your child’s needs effectively. Below, is some information provided by Ed Carter of Able Futures for how to evaluate your fatigue levels and make a treatment plan that boosts your overall health and well-being.

Image via Freepik

How to Determine Your Relative Level of Fatigue

To improve your health, you must first identify your relative level of fatigue. Perhaps the simplest way to do this is to fill out a fatigue assessment questionnaire, such as the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) or Perceived Fatigue Scale (PFS), to determine your stress level.

Comparing yourself with other parents of special needs children may help you identify if your fatigue is more severe than others, however Tammy Vice says “As a parent of a child with special needs, sometimes what we perceive as ‘normal’ can be way off the mark.” Take note of when you become more exhausted, how long it lasts, and if there are any specific triggers. Consider the changes in your own ability to cope. It may be time to get support.

Core Fatigue Causes to Consider

Some causes of fatigue are unique to being the parent of a child with autism. Daily responsibilities and added medical and therapy appointments can feel impossible to manage.

For instance, your child may exhibit repetitive behaviors and sensory overload, which can quickly drain you physically and mentally and make even the simplest tasks unbearable. Recognizing your specific fatigue triggers can go a long way toward helping you create a customized self-care plan that results in a higher quality of life for you and your child.

Things to Evaluate

Poor sleep quality, lack of social support, and the state of your marital relationship can severely impact your fatigue levels. Being a caregiver can interfere with your sleep quality, so take time to evaluate your sleep habits to see if you can make any healthy changes.

Lack of social support can contribute to feelings of isolation and loneliness, exacerbating your chronic fatigue and causing emotional burnout. Make sure you have people around you that you can count on! And honestly assess your marriage; the inability to manage stress and emotional turmoil effectively can lead to marital distress and exhaustion. Find ways to connect with your spouse, and remember that you’re in this together.

Pursuing Personal Goals

As a parent of a child with autism, your focus is probably solely centered on your child’s well-being. Therefore, it’s easy to forget about your personal goals. But having personal goals can strengthen your emotional health and self-esteem while improving your overall quality of life.

Take time to identify your personal interests, and establish goals or hobbies that can help rejuvenate your energy levels. It could be hiking a trail, crafting, or painting — whatever it is, setting aside time for yourself is crucial.

You could also return to school for an online degree. Studying online not only will give you flexibility and something productive to focus on, but it will also boost your career prospects in a field you’re passionate about. Click here for more info about earning a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university!

Minimizing Negative Outcomes

Though implementing self-care is critical, it’s equally important to avoid unwanted outcomes. Overcompensating for your spouse or overburdening your support network so you can take some time off can create resentment, adding to the existing stress.

Communicate with your partner and other loved ones to establish a support system that works for everyone involved. Accepting help from friends and family is essential, but too much dependence on them can cause increased stress and fatigue.


Being a parent of a child with special needs can be overwhelming. The complexity that comes with the daily responsibilities of advocating for and guiding your child will eventually take a toll on your well-being if you don’t address it.

Remember that self-care is not a luxury but a necessity. Take time to evaluate your fatigue level and triggers so that you can devise strategies that improve your quality of life. You might be surprised how quickly you notice more physical and emotional energy, which will help you to be the parent your child deserves!

Bio: With a history in financial planning, Ed Carter utilizes his expertise and knowledge to assist individuals with disabilities in securing their future. Navigating the complexities of financial planning can be challenging and overwhelming, particularly for those dealing with physical and mental disabilities. That's why Ed founded Able Futures - a site dedicated to empowering people with disabilities by guiding them towards a stable and protected financial future.

Thank you Ed for providing this helpful info for parents who are caregivers.

Know The Hope,

Tammy Vice

*Disclaimer::The information and opinions expressed in this blog are the those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views or opinions of Autism Tennessee. The author and the blog are not be held responsible for any misuse, reuse, recycled and cited and/or uncited copies of content within this blog by others.

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