Kids Spot

Premier Pediatric Therapy is now a part of Kids SPOT family of companies

Help your child decrease problem behavior and improve beneficial skills. For more information, please call us at (888) 865-4538.

Contact us today

Children with autism often require much assistance and supervision in their daily lives. As a parent or caregiver for a child with autism and anxiety, you may sometimes find it difficult to address your own needs and stress.

Of course, you want to give your child the attention they deserve — but caregivers need to find ways to cope with stress, too. A less-stressed adult can often result in a calmer child. In this article, we'll explain how parents can cope with stress and avoid caregiver burnout.

What Is Caregiver Burnout?

Caregiver burnout — sometimes called caregiver stress — is an all-encompassing exhaustion resulting from caring for someone else. Caregiving is a big responsibility, and committing your physical, emotional and mental efforts to someone else often leaves little time to focus on yourself.

Caregiver burnout can occur when the person receiving the care is not improving. For a child with autism, this may look like frequent outbursts, self-harm, aggression or intense anxiety that makes completing daily tasks extremely difficult.

You might be experiencing caregiver burnout if you are:

  • Experiencing irritability, anger or negativity toward your child.
  • Feeling hopeless and exhausted.
  • Experiencing unusual changes in weight, mood or appetite.
  • Displaying unhealthy coping behaviors.
  • Experiencing depression or anxiety.
  • Feeling stressed about your caregiving responsibilities.
  • Having trouble sleeping.
  • Losing interest in social interaction or hobbies.
  • Neglecting your hygiene.
  • Feeling a general lack of energy.
  • Having difficulty concentrating.

Types of Caregiver Stress

Before learning how to cope with family stress, you must identify the type of caregiver stress you're experiencing. You may have symptoms of one or more of the following types of stress:

Physical Stress

Caregiving full-time for a child with autism without adequate help can lead to issues like fatigue and insomnia. Physical stress from caregiving may also manifest in your eating habits, such as forgetting to make yourself dinner or overeating to cope with a stressful day. If your child struggles with violent outbursts or aggression, it may result in physical injury or strain from trying to keep them calm.

Social Stress

Some parents of children with autism may feel socially isolated. Your child's behavior and a general lack of public understanding may cause you to avoid social gatherings. Spouses may feel a sense of strain in their marriage due to less quality time together.

Psychological Stress

Caring for a child with autism can be mentally and emotionally demanding, as well. You may feel exceedingly worried or tired during tough days, and if you feel like you're having difficulties meeting your children's needs, you may experience symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Financial Stress

Experiencing financial stress is never easy. Financial stress can result from having to work less hours or take time off to take care of your child. It can also occur because children with autism may require additional medical expenses.

Strategies to Cope With Stress

These tips for helping parents cope with stress may help you cope with worry.

1. Start Small

Simple changes over time can lead to big improvements, and prioritizing your health is a good place to start. Try these simple routine changes to reduce stress:

  • Drink more water: Drinking water can lead to a decrease in anxiety, so keeping a reusable water bottle on hand is a simple way to relieve stress.
  • Regulate your sleep schedule: Getting your 7-9 hours is important, even as an adult. Regulating your sleep schedule might involve going to bed earlier, waking up with time to eat, not drinking caffeine in the afternoon or turning your electronics off after dinner.
  • Take walks outside: Walking outside can boost mood and relieve stress. You can lace up your sneakers before your child wakes up and enjoy the early morning sun.
  • Make time for your hobbies: Making time for hobbies can help you find more joy in life. You can schedule 30 minutes of free time a few times weekly or find new hobbies that fit your lifestyle. For example, if you cook dinner every day, you can get creative with recipes.

Taking care of your health positively impacts both you and your child.

2. Find a Coping Strategy

Everyone copes with stress differently. Sometimes, this can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms like smoking or drinking alcohol. Consider what healthy, reasonable strategies you could use to feel a sense of peace and calm after a stressful day. Maybe you need alone time to recharge or like to watch your favorite show when you're stressed. Perhaps you want to start embracing more optimistic thinking and focus on the positive aspects of being a caregiver.

Some parents might find acceptance as a stress-relieving coping strategy. It might ease some of your distress to understand and accept that your child has unique needs rather than comparing your child's development to a child who does not have autism. Thinking this way may only perpetuate anxiety and stress.

3. Find Social Support

Finding someone to lean on in times of stress is incredibly helpful. You might find stress relief when you talk to other parents who understand your challenges. Support groups offer a great opportunity to talk to other people in similar circumstances, but you can also meet up with friends for coffee or a walk to talk about your feelings.

4. Give Yourself Credit

No one is a perfect caregiver. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can.

Needing a break is normal, and feeling stressed does not mean you don't want what's best for your child. If you ever feel guilty, try to reframe your thoughts and remember that if you're physically and emotionally well, you can be more present and engaged with your child. Taking the time you need can benefit your child and yourself.

5. Seek Professional Help for Your Child

Treatment options like therapy can help improve your child's physical, social, emotional, sensory and communication skills. In addition to allowing your child to flourish in a safe environment, seeking professional help can reduce your stress as a caregiver.

For example, with occupational therapy, your child will learn calming strategies and independent skills to help mitigate anxiety and outbursts. Your child's therapist will help you feel heard and understand. They can also connect with support groups and ensure your child is getting the care they deserve.

How MySpot Care Can Help You Avoid Caregiver Burnout

As a full-time caregiver, it's important to care for yourself. At MySpot Care, we know the challenges and stressors that children with autism face, and we offer services that focus on all areas of development, including speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy and ABA therapy.


Request An Appointment


Our compassionate and board-certified therapists can help your child gain independent skills and coping strategies. Whatever their needs, we'll work with you to create a plan that meets everyone's goals. If you're interested in improving your child's quality of life and finding more time to care for your own needs, request an appointment today.