How often do you hear mothers of children with autism saying things like: “I am so exhausted because my son is having such a hard time with his behaviour”, “I had a very rough night with my husband losing his temper and my children crying”, “I am emotionally tired and physically drained”? Probably very often! Such expressions are very common among parents of children with autism. And, of course, there is no surprise here! Parents face never ending challenges, worries, chronic stress and lack of sleep. They take their kids to endless therapy sessions, doctors, schools, teachers, assessments and evaluations! They simply do not have the time to recharge their own “batteries”, to think about their own health and their personal needs! Therefore, it is no surprise that these mothers are simply exhausted and chronically tired. Are you one of them? Do you feel this energy drain? Can you relate to this situation?
But, what can be done to address this energy related issue and to help both yourself and your child with autism. Research clearly demonstrates that many children with autism have issues with energy, you are probably already well aware of this simply from observing your child’s activity pattern. It is often the case that other children can do lots of different things, such as participating in various events and pursuing numerous hobbies, whereas a child with autism may only be able to do one thing, focusing on one activity and, even then, quickly losing interest. And this is not because they are lazy, this is because their energy level is different from other kids’ energy level. Low energy levels affect one’s ability to concentrate and to perform. It can be simply debilitating factor at times. Especially when a child needs to focus on something they don’t particularly like or when they have any kind of sensory overload or even everything all together. For example, at the shopping centre or at school, a child may feel like someone is pulling a “switch” in their brain to energy saving mode.
Research has demonstrated that children with autism may have faulty mitochondria. The mitochondria are the power stations of our cells and, therefore, of the whole human body. If mitochondria don’t work properly, our energy source is depleted. Our brain is a very “energy hungry” organ and uses up to 20% of the body’s energy supply. So, any lack of energy will affect the performance of our nerve cells.
Another reason could be that many children with autism have issues with the Methylation cycle, a biochemical pathway managing many functions in our body including energy production. Either mitochondrial or methylation malfunction can be related to impaired genetics, mutations that form spontaneously during development and, of course, due to environmental factors like toxicity, to a lack of nutrients, oxidative stress and so on.
And what is particularly interesting is that both aspects, methylation and mitochondrial malfunction, are absolutely relevant to all of us! We all experience an overload of stress which in turn impacts these vitally important energy generating functions. Therefore, knowing how to improve the body’s energy level is beneficial to everyone! And the good news is that this energy level issue can be addressed. However, to support your child correctly you need to address your energy first! This is not selfish; it is a life-saving strategy! Like in the plane: “fasten your seat belt first and then help your child”.
Here are some tips on how you can start to deal with the issue:
- Our energy is very much linked to our mind-set and our positive thinking. Therefore, I would suggest to all parents of children with autism, if you have not yet done it, to start thinking about autism as a condition that can be improved and even cured! This positive thinking will generate much more powerful energy which will then do a much better job of support you and your child in your daily lives! Please, read more here: http://bit.ly/2nzrwW2
- Find your own personalised strategy for stress reduction. It can be something very simple like a walk in the park for 15-30 min or having a bath before you go to bed or even a few minutes of gardening. Even small routines like these can help you clear your mind and generate positive energy.
- A good morning routine is essential to help you focus on what you want to achieve during the day, to identify your main priorities and to set yourself up for success. Nobody can do everything they would ideally like to do during the day, but you can definitely focus your energy on the main things.
- Practice gratitude. This means seizing the opportunity to say “thank you” to the people you love and for all the experiences that have made you stronger and that have helped you build resilience of character. A grateful person always receives positive energy support from the universe!
- Acknowledge and celebrate your little personal victories. This will generate a huge pool of positive energy and a feeling of self-satisfaction as you boost the release of Dopamine in your body. These victories can be tiny, but positive and very meaningful to you. For example, your child has fallen asleep for the first time ever in the car. This was a direct result of your child’s anxiety levels lowering thanks to the life style changes made in the family.
- Physical exercise is crucial, especially in the fresh air. Movement, in general, boosts the neuroplasticity in our body, generating new neuronal connections and improving our energy levels. You can do something small but regularly. Walking is a good way to exercise and to wind down. It also doesn’t require any special equipment, except for comfortable shoes. Or you could try cycling for a few minutes, or swimming.
- Support your energy level with nutrient rich This is an absolute MUST for you to get more energy and vitality. Just think about it this way: real live food, like vegetables and fruit, gives you the right energy and help to reduce your stress levels, whereas processed and sugary food takes away your energy in order to metabolise the sugar and detoxify the artificial and modified ingredients within. Choose real, fresh products that can be easily converted into a delicious meal. Even if your child doesn’t want to follow your example yet, you will still be showing them a positive example and, little by little, will train them to join your “real food party”.
So, do not waste your precious energy on eating processed food and drinking toxic soft drinks. They may give you a very brief sense of pleasure, but the price for that pleasure is very high – the energy that you need for yourself and for your child, and the health that you need for your success and happiness.
Therefore, you see that energy can be found, produced and focused! You just need to figure out your big WHY in order for this energy to be generated! And I hope that for all the mothers with autistic kids, your “Why” is FIGHTING AUTISM and HELPING MY CHILD TO ACHIEVE THEIR MAXIMUM POTENTIAL! Do you agree?
Once you have accomplished all of the steps above, you will be a role model for your child! You will be able to create a positive environment for your child to change and increase their energy levels as well. All of the above is applicable to children as well, but for some kids, certain special techniques may also be very useful as support. For example, the Neurofeedback method and the Nutrigenomics approach show very good results. However, you will just have to wait until my next blog to find out about these.
Please, contact me to discuss, agree or disagree. I look forward to receiving your ever-valuable questions, comments and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org