No Time to Worry: Why Autism Parents Must Have All Their Ducks in a Row

Girl playing with ducklings

"I don't know how you do it."

It's a phrase I hear all the time. It's as if some people think working full time teaching children with special needs and raising a child with special needs is a big deal or something. Of course, I kid. It is a big deal. A big old hairy deal that has had me tied up in knots and broken down on the floor many times. Throw in my husband and older daughter, who also need attention, a slowly emerging writing career which could use some TLC, a sorry little social life, and you have a recipe for complete disaster.

The truth is, I am barely managing my major responsibilities as listed above. There is absolutely, positively no time for the rest of it. By the rest of it, I mean those tasks we know are important but can easily be put off in favor of a preferred activity like sleeping, or a more important duty like taking your child to her fifth therapy session this week. Things like filing taxes, updating insurance policies and renewing car registrations seem less crucial when you haven't had a full night's sleep in months and you've just been told your daughter may not ever live on her own. The kicker, though, the thing that really gets me, is that these tasks that seem like minutia in the grand scheme of things, are really so very important. These things will keep your life organized and your family safe, and they must make it on your list now so you won't have to think about them in the future. You'll be so glad you took care of this now.

Get Organized

Let me tell you why you need to get on the ball and get yourself organized. On Mother's Day, I drove my car into a poorly placed cement beam in a parking garage. No one was hurt except for my little Impreza. I wanted to attack that beam but, even in my frantic state, I realized that would not help. I was so caught up with taking my daughter to the doctor because she was having an asthma attack (see, now that is a top priority) that I didn't see the beam until after it made an accordion of my car's front end. After all was said and done, I was so relieved that my car insurance was top notch and fully updated. I really only had to make a quick phone call and agents were jumping to fix this mess I had gotten myself into. My little girl was fine, by the way. Asthma is now completely under control. I really could not have coped with another issue on top of what I was dealing with that week.

I've written before here, about why my life insurance policy cannot wait. I need to know what will happen to my daughter when I am gone. It kills me to even type that sentence. I fully admit that this might be the easiest of tasks to put off because it is a job that can be heartbreaking. I cried the entire time writing it and some of you, if you're in my boat, probably shed a tear reading it, so I won't put you through that again. Just know that you'll sleep easier once these devastating decisions are made. The sooner you put this stuff in your rear view, the sooner you can get back to focusing on right now.

Maybe in the middle of a meltdown, when your child has a fistful of your hair and bite grip on your arm, you won't be thinking about this. Or maybewhen your child says "I love you" for the first time, you won't be thinking about this. And you shouldn't have to. You don't have the energy for it. This is why I must, at all costs, have all my ducks in a row and all my papers in order so that if things do go down a bumpy road, we will be just fine. I have to think like this. I have to imagine worst case scenarios and plan for them, because my life will never allow for last minute, fly by the seat of my pants, decisions or actions. I just don't have time for it and neither do you.

Shanell Mouland, autism blogger

About the author: Shanell Mouland is a mother, teacher and writer. When she isn't advocating for the rights of individuals with autism she is writing a children's book called, "Sunny and Sinclair" and blogging at www.goteamkate.com.

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