Autism is a devastating condition that can be difficult to fully comprehend for anyone who has not experienced it. The disorder strikes at the very foundation of a person’s self, and often requires years of therapy and special care in order to get through the day. Many children with autism grow up under the watchful eye of attentive parents, but some are unfortunate enough to be raised by abusive parents. These children have a long uphill battle towards life, and oftentimes they fall prey to the ways of their abusers.
Abusers in these cases are often not aware that they are hurting their children when they beat or berate them, but there is a darker way that many of these parents hurt their children. Parents who abuse autistic children know exactly what they are doing, and use the disorder to their benefit.
Abuse is often harder for these children than it would be if they were not autistic because autism makes them oblivious to the pain that should come with being hurt by another person. Autism refers to a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders that cause hindrance in the development of social and language skills in children. This causes their parents too through some challenges like:
This term is often used in the mental health profession. It describes a wide variety of emotional problems that individuals may be experiencing, such as depression, anxiety, agitation, and low self-esteem. Many individuals who suffer from this type of distress do not seek treatment and may try to manage their problems on their own. Parents raising children with Autism also experience a great deal of psychological distress due to the significant emotional toll that it takes caring for a child with Autism.
Some parents choose to stay at home and dedicate their lives towards giving their child the best life possible, while others have to work a full-time job and rely on other family members or outside caretakers for support. You may need to seek some Autism parenting advice, because it can take an emotional toll on everyone involved, which often leads to feelings of depression, anxiety, agitation, low self-esteem, and feelings of helplessness. However, it is important for individuals experiencing psychological distress to know that they are not alone, Autism affects 1 in 68 children across the United States.
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Physical health problems
This is a common issue among parents who have children with autism. Children with autism tend to be more physically active and engage in atypical behaviors such as hand flapping and rocking, which can cause them to sustain injuries
(1). One study found that 4-12% of children with autism were injured each year due to their behavior, most often due to falling or collisions
(2). These injuries can be difficult for parents because they are unpredictable, frequently cause pain and discomfort, and limit the child’s autonomy. Because the child is nonverbal, it can be challenging to identify their needs.
Prevention: The first step towards preventing injury among children with autism is communicating effectively with your child about their needs and current behaviors. In order to avoid injuries, discuss with your child what they are excited about right before bedtime or a time when they may be experiencing physical discomfort. This will help them communicate their needs and allow you to reduce potential harm by offering alternatives.
After an injury: Even if no one is physically injured, parents may feel an emotional toll. Parents should avoid minimizing their child’s feelings or encouraging independence too fast, as it can cause the child to feel guilt or shame over something typically out of their control. Naming what happened properly is important for children with autism because they are often unable to identify why they are upset after actions occur.
What parents can do: Parents can help their children feel as independent as possible by giving them self-care tasks such as brushing teeth, choosing clothes, and eating. This also gives parents a short break from continuously intervening to ease pain or discomfort. Providing opportunities for the child to earn additional freedoms through engaging in positive behaviors can be helpful.
Parents of children with autism often experience emotional distress, which can cause physical health problems. In a survey conducted by the Interactive Autism Network (IAN), nearly 70% of parents who participated in the study reported feeling overwhelmed and stressed because of their relationship with their child. Parents also reported feelings including anger, guilt, isolation from peers, sadness, and regret at having to change their lives as a result of their child’s condition.
Children with autism present unique challenges for parents, from the time they are first diagnosed throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Parents report feelings including guilt at having “failed” their child; anger that the cause of autism is unknown; feelings of isolation because children with autism typically do not have many friends; concern for their child’s future; and sadness at the thought of having to care for an adult with autism.
Almost half of the parents are concerned about what will happen to their child when they die or can no longer take care of him or her. It is not uncommon for parents to feel frustrated, restless, confused, upset, overwhelmed, stressed, sad, and angry. Parents of children with autism have been found to have a higher rate of divorce than average, perhaps due to the added stressors of raising a child with a developmental disability.
Decreased Parenting efficacy
This term is used in the mental health profession to describe a decrease or lack of parenting competencies. It can have a big impact on a family, as it often leads to feelings of guilt and shame. Parents who have children with Autism may feel like they are not doing what is best for their child’s development even though parenting a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder poses specific challenges.
Parenting efficacy can be described as a parent’s ability to meet the needs of their children while balancing responsibilities at home and work, which often leads to feeling overwhelmed. In addition, parents dealing with Autism in their child may feel less capable of making decisions for their child due to their lack of knowledge about the disorder. Furthermore, some parents report feeling like they are not able to teach their child the skills that he or she needs in order to achieve success, which can lead to feelings of failure and decreased self-esteem.
However, you can learn more about parenting a child with Autism and become an effective parent. Educating yourself about Autism Spectrum Disorders will give you the knowledge that you need to make informed decisions for your child and your family. You can also learn more about techniques for behavior management by attending an Autism parenting class, which will allow you to manage challenging behaviors such as aggression and self-injurious behavior (SIB).
In order to effectively manage the impact of psychological distress and decreased parenting efficacy, it is best to seek some Autism parenting advice from a qualified professional. It is important for parents to realize that they are not alone in their experiences and there are resources available for support and guidance, such as your child’s pediatrician or school counselor.
There is no cure for Autism, but with the right professional support, you can make informed decisions about your child’s care and learn effective ways to manage the difficulties of parenting a child with Autism.