Professor Willard-YakushevaPsych 2450 Life Span Development
The Lot in Life of Autism
Autism is one of the most frequently diagnosed disorders seen throughout the world. This disorder is classified as a mental condition most common among boys which can lead to difficulty in communication between others and forming relationships, struggles in social skills, and complications in some basic mental processes. Having a child diagnosed with autism can become a difficult task for both parents and the child to go through. Not only does it create difficulties in both sides, it creates obstacles in life that most people take for granted on a daily basis. Many of these obstacles that children diagnosed with autism include the struggle to fit in among peers and others around them and also difficulty in forming friendships and relationships leading to the feeling of being unwanted and outcasted for not being seen as following societal norms. Furthermore, parents face difficulties in trying to control behavior of children and making sure they are well taken care of and safe. With this it creates a lot of stress on the parent and becomes extremely exhausting in many situations. To summarize, autism is becoming a amore widely known disorder that creates daily and long term difficulties and challenges that impact both the ones affected and the others in their life.
As stated above stress plays a large role in many day to day lives and activities. Although this may be true, stress is a more common feeling amongst parents raising children with autism. Many articles and studies have been written and have tested this claim that demonstrates how raising a child with autism is more stressful, one specific article that talks about these stresses and difficulties is “Stress and the Autism Parent” (2017) written by Marina Sarris. Many of these factors that play a role in stress are stated in the article explaining how social interactions between society and the families decrease, also explaining how other behavioral and time-consuming difficulties parents may face and have to go through. For instance, some of these stress related difficulties are the way many families are stigmatized when out in public and their children may be showing some behavioral problems. Also, financial soundness plays a role, controlling a child in times of breakdowns or outbreaks, avoiding triggers in day to day activities, and simply just learning and trying to figure out how to accept and live through some of these difficulties (“Stress and the Autism Parent”). This article also highlights that along with stress, parents with this type of life style tend to “experience more mental health problems, including depression and anxiety” (Sarris, 2017, P.1). This stress is bad for the health of the parents and also the children surrounded by their stressed-out parents or caregivers. Autism is a growing disorder that is making a big impact throughout society and many parents/caregivers may go through these challenges without help and understanding of the difficulties and challenges faced and the impact upon parents/caregivers raising a child with autism. To sum up, these factors play a large role in the mental health of a parent and also the child that has the disorder.
Moving forward autism is a growing disorder that does have some difficulties when being around it especially may cause stress and challenges for a parent raising a child with autism. In the article, “Challenges Faced by Parents of Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder” (2013), researched twenty parents that all had children with autism disorder also known as ASD. The participants varied in how high or low their child was on the ASD scale. The participants simply had personal interviews with researchers for about forty-five to sixty minutes. Many questions were asked which were described as “core” questions, basic questions asking about strategies that make raising a child with autism easier or what kinds of daily challenges parents may face (“Challenges Faced by Parents of Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder”). Afterwards, these interviews were transcribed and reviewed then used as proof for claims supporting that raising a child with autism may cause more stress and challenges. The research found that tantrums were a big part of many of the parents’ day to day lives (“Challenges Faced by Parents of Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder”). Sudden outbursts, especially in public places, made it hard for parents to go out or feel comfortable in social situations. The article even states that “whilst many of the parents were in agreement that dealing with tantrums was often difficult to manage, most parents regarded public tantrums and the reaction from others as being the most difficult aspect of such challenging behavior” (Ludlow, Skelly ; Rohleder, 2013, P. 3). Another difficulty was routine whether trying to accomplish starting a routine or straying away from routine, may cause major issues and problems for some children. Social interactions also bring up challenges to be faced by both children and parents wanting to fit in with others while not being judged if the child has an outburst or is socially incapable of following the “normalities” of day to day life (Ludlow, et al., 2013). This disorder affects the parents greatly, but also has impacts on the family too which may cause separation in some families or just create arguments among some members of the family. To conclude, there are many other factors that play a role in parental stress and raising a child with autism that affect the lives of parents the children and those around them.
As stated in previous paragraphs, autism plays a large role in many lives and does not just affect the ones with the diagnosis but also the ones around them. Parents and caregivers often tend to be greatly affected when raising children with this disorder and there are many factors that affect them and can cause a lot of stress and difficulties in day to day life. In the article “Stress among Parents of Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder: A comparison involving Psychological Indicators and Parent Self-Reports”, it demonstrates and explains many of these factors and difficulties parents/caregivers go through. Moving forward, this research takes and approach of having a control group, which are parents that do not child with autism/ASD and then an experimental group, which are parents that are raising a child with autism/ ASD. With these two groups, the research pointed to psychological well-being and stress for parents with children who have autism/ASD and for parents who do not have children with autism/ASD (source). While researching these effects in parents with and without children who have ASD, many studies and tests were done to conclude these specific effects on stress and psychological difficulties for parents raising a child with ASD. To begin, many of the research was based off of personal questionnaires that the parents completed. For example, one was parenting stress index-short form which is a self- report form for parents to fill out, as well as parental responsibility scale and the short form social support questionnaire. Additional methods the research used was saliva collection from under the tongue and also cardiovascular assessment to test blood pressure and heart rate. The research was done in a natural environment that contained the participants daily routines. The participants themselves would collect four samples of saliva a day, one immediately, fifteen minutes, thirty minutes, and forty-five minutes after waking up. After these individuals took their sample, they simply placed them in their freezer and took them to the researchers on the next visit. After saliva samples were taken from participants, the researchers met up with the participants and attached an ABP monitor to track heart rate and determine blood pressure. The monitors were then removed after leaving it on for twenty-four hours, participants were given questionnaire booklets to complete and return to researchers through the mail. Finally, within all this research many outcomes were found and determined from the tests and questions completed. The data presented in the article stated “parents of children with ASD reported significantly higher levels of parental distress, anxiety, and depression than parents of typically developing children” (Padden ; James 2017, p. 9). Also, parents with children who have ASD went to seek more coping strategies and mechanisms to help day to day life and difficulties which differed from those with normally developing children (“Stress among Parents of Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder: A comparison involving Psychological Indicators and Parent Self-Reports”). In all, there is a strong reliable source of research explaining and showing that parents raising children with ASD often have ore difficulties and higher stress levels than parents not raising children with ASD.
There are many key points to take away from the research focused on the stress put onto parents raising children with autism/ASD. All the articles containing these points are “Stress and the Autism Parent” (Sarris, 2017), “Challenges Faced by Parents of Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder” (Ludlow, et al.) and lastly “Stress among Parents of Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder: A comparison involving Psychological Indicators and Parents Self-Reports” (Padden ; James, 2017). One of the biggest points taken away from these articles and research would be that parents have an extremely hard time raising a child with this disorder with not only causing stress, but changes in every day life. Parents raising a child with autism have to schedule many events around the children especially if their child is higher on the spectrum and needs intensive care at all times. This type of rigorous activity and planning everyday life functions around a child and personal even social life places a lot of stress and emotional hardships for the parents within this situation. Another key point is that parents face is the stigma of not being “good” parents when out in public many parents raising a child with autism feel ashamed or judged in public either from sudden outburst of their child or behavioral issues that may occur (“Challenges Faced by Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder”). This feeling of judgement for the parents can lead to poor social life and more agitation and depressive moods that they go through on top of stress in day to day difficulties. Also, a key point taken away from the articles is that parents raising a child with autism often show higher results in depression and even anxiety (“Stress Among Parents of Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Comparison Involving Physiological Indicators and Parent Self-Reports”). As stated in an empirical article “Parents of children with ASD reported significantly higher levels of parental distress, anxiety, and depression than parents of typically developing children” (Padden ; James, 2015, p.1). Many of the key points provided explain and show that parental stress and social difficulties are more commonly seen in parents raising a child with ASD. Lastly, another key point would be the acceptance of the parents trying to learn how to cope with day to day life activities and understand their child (“Challenges Faced by Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder”). Acceptance is the hardest part for many parents, but finding the right coping mechanisms or even therapy’s helps relieve some of that stress placed on the parents. Autism is growing as is becoming more commonly seen it is a large disorder that can cause challenges in many lives. In all it is important to understand that it affects the ones diagnosed with it greatly but also plays a large role on those who are surrounded by this growing disorder.
Not to mention all the difficulties and stressor of raising a child with autism there also may be developmental issues that the parent may face. One issue may be social a parent raising a child with autism may face many social issues. Depending on how well the parent can cope and understand these challenges it can be more difficult for some than others. They would face being outcasted amongst other parents and even family members. In some cases, they may even be stigmatized as bad parents causing them to feel bad or even depressed believing they are not fit parents and not raising their child right. Developing relationships with other adults and trying to help other understand is a battle all on its own. With these developing issues within the parents they may search for therapy help or group help to develop and learn coping methods to understand their children and be more accepted in society. It’s important to realize that the children are greatly affected socially but also the parents.
In addition to social problems parents may have a hard time with their own emotional development and understanding. While raising a child with autism depending on the severity almost all the parents/caregivers time is devoted towards their child. With devoting a majority of their time to their child it leaves very little room to make sure their emotional and mental health are still healthy. The more time consuming a child may be the less stable the parent can become. This could be seen through lack of sleep, irritability, low patience levels, and distress or depression later on all leading back to their emotional development and health. Its extremely important for parents raising a child with autism to realize when they need to take a break or ask for help, so that their emotional development doesn’t suffer and they soon become depressed or upset. Emotional development is a problem for the child but can also become a problem n the caregivers if not taken care of or looked at as a concern.
One last developmental issue a parent may face is the physical effects of raising child with ASD. A parent raising a child with ASD can develop a lot of stress depending on the child and situation. With this stress it may crate an aged look with the parent. Also, it can play a part in a weary or constantly fatigued appearance within the parent. To avoid this awful appearance and even feeling parents should consider a form of reliving stress whether its short breaks from their child to a form of exercise or therapy. These suggestions have proven to improve physical health by relieving stress and mental/emotional health. Developmental issues of course affect the child but also can cause many issues or challenges parents have to go through.
All things considered autism is growing and is more common and widely known in today’s world. It affects many children and their parents even their families. There are many challenges that may be faced many of them surrounding the stress of this hard situation, but also there are many coping methods and forms of help out there to make sure that both the child and parent/caregiver van lead and live a healthy lifestyle.
Ludlow, A., Rohleder, P., ; Skelly, C. (2013).
Challenges faced by Parents of Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Department of Psychology, Anglia Ruskin University.James, J.E., ; Padden, C. (2015). Stress among Parents of Children with and without Autism
Spectrum Disorder: A Comparison Involving Physiological Indicators and Parent Self-Reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5502228/Sarris, M. (2017). Stress and the Autism Parent.
Interactive autism network at Kennedy Krieger Institute