Stress Much?


Written by Alisa Hutton

We know that having a child with autism comes with a great deal of worry and stress that most parents of neuro-typical children do not experience. It isn’t bad it is just different. The reality is that our bodies deal with much higher cortisol levels on a daily basis. So what does this mean for us physically?

Cortisol affects our overall health. If we are producing too much cortisol or too frequently it can wreak havoc on our bodies. Which is why as parents of children with autism, knowing that we typically produce a lot of cortisol to combat stress we need to be extraordinarily aware of our bodies and taking care of our health.

I went many years running on adrenaline. High stress, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, poor eating, and the list goes on. I didn’t know any other way to manage and I felt my youth would protect me from any ill effects of burning the candle at both ends. I was “surviving”. I was incredibly wrong in my assumptions and my health suffered because of it.

In the world we live in and the very real stresses of parenting a child with autism we need to be keenly aware of managing our cortisol levels. We need to become experts in managing stress. The kicker is, parenting a child with autism also means you probably are not able to combat stress in the usual ways that parents of neuro-typical kids do/can. So what do you do?

One of the first areas I focus on when I do 1:1 coaching with Moms is what I call the Basi formula. Basi was the young son of a Mom I worked with. He was wise beyond his years. His family was struggling and caught on a treadmill of survival. He looked at me during one of my sessions with his Mom and asked “how can we look to the future if we are always worried about surviving”. Little Basi was bang on the money. We can’t look to the future, have hope and thrive if we are only ever surviving.

It was during my work with Basi and his family that I created the Basi formula. It is where I now start when coaching Mom’s. We start with how they are surviving and we work our way up and out of surviving to future, hope and thriving. It isn’t a complicated process or one that is draining. It is simply looking at where things are at and designing a plan to work towards a place that feels better, authentic and in meaningful ways. This simple exercise focuses on what we already know. We know cortisol levels are high in Moms of kids with autism. We reduce those by creating a solid plan that reflects what is realistic and actually works for each individual. There isn’t cookie cutter solutions. We are all different and our kids are all different. So why would we use solutions that were made for other people’s lives?

I encourage you to learn about cortisol levels and the effects they have on our bodies, Mom’s especially. As science has told us you are typically the most impacted by this. Take some time and think about what little tricks you have in your tool belt that help you reduce stress in healthy ways. Be mindful of those and see if you can carve in a little extra time in the day for them. As I said there isn’t a cookie cutter solution but your health is important and your kids need you to be healthy and happy. It is a marathon not a race. Pace yourself for the long run. You are important.


For more information on coaching or workshops please contact me directly

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