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Autism Moms Have Stress Similar To Combat Soldiers

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Mothers of adolescents and adults with autism experience chronic stress comparable to combat soldiers and struggle with frequent fatigue and work interruptions, new research finds. These moms also spend significantly more time caregiving than moms of those without disabilities.

Researchers followed a group of moms of adolescents and adults with autism for eight days in a row. Moms were interviewed at the end of each day about their experiences and on four of the days researchers measured the moms’ hormone levels to assess their stress.

They found that a hormone associated with stress was extremely low, consistent with people experiencing chronic stress such as soldiers in combat, the researchers report in one of two studies published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

“This is the physiological residue of daily stress,” says Marsha Mailick Seltzer, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who authored the studies. “The mothers of children with high levels of behavior problems have the most pronounced physiological profile of chronic stress, but the long-term effect on their physical health is not yet known.”

Such hormone levels have been associated with chronic health problems and can affect glucose regulation, immune functioning and mental activity, researchers say.

In a companion study, the researchers followed up with the same group of mothers daily to interview them about how they used their time, their level of fatigue, what leisure activities they participated in and whether or not stressful events occurred. This information was then compared with data from a national sample of mothers whose children do not have disabilities.

Mothers of those with autism reported spending at least two hours more each day caregiving than mothers of children without disabilities. On any given day these moms were also twice as likely to be tired and three times as likely to have experienced a stressful event.

What’s more, these moms were interrupted at work on one out of every four days compared to less than one in 10 days for other moms.

Despite all of this, mothers of an individual with autism were just as likely to have positive experiences each day, volunteer or support their peers as those whose children have no developmental disability, researchers found.

“On a day-to-day basis, the mothers in our study experience more stressful events and have less time for themselves compared to the average American mother,” says Leann Smith, a developmental psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who worked on the studies. “We need to find more ways to be supportive of these families.”

In particular, the researchers say that parents need better respite options and flexibility from their employers. Further, they say, programs to help manage behavior problems can go a long way toward improving the situation for mothers and their kids alike.

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Comments (205 Responses)

  1. queenwendy says:

    That is because, Marc, no matter how involved the father is, it is still the mother who carries out most of the day-to-day caregiver responsibilities. And also, her responses to the challenges of dealing with the child with the disorder are very different from those of the father (based on objective gender differences). So…get over it. Do the best you can.

  2. ccarolcc says:

    wow, i’m a little surprised at all the anger over this article. this is a specific study, not one designed to alienate a. another parent, b. those in the military, c. parents of children with other disabilities. please, get over yourselves and your own problems, grow up and realize that any study can’t possible encapsulate everyone. use that energy positively to push for more change within your own groups if you must, but please respect the work that goes on in this one. its all the ‘what about me’ whining that drove me to write this. again, please respect the study methods that must be used and please use that energy positively to do good, not be divisive. if we use this well, we can make a difference in the studies done and get some more damn funding to get treatments and assistance set up to assist everyone.

  3. seeandbesafe.com says:

    As a disabled person whose mother has been his primary caregiver for 19 years, I can attest to the fact that burnout is a reality for any mother who is performing care giving functions. In a lot of ways I feel guilty for needing my mother so much throughout the years because she has deferred a number of her own dreams to make my life better. There is a point when we have to address the real reason for mothers /family being relied on so heavily to perform care giving. In my case I can say the lack of quality pca’s has been a major contributing factor.

  4. Annee says:

    Both my son and daughter-in-law are active in the care of their son. Both show signs of stress/depression.
    As the years have gone by, they have withdrawn from us and other family members who would be happy to help them. It is almost as if they are angry at us, bitter, whatever. They have done a spectacular job with their child. Early intervention, leading a scout troop to include him, supporting him in a school club, etc. But I wish they would embrace the people who love them the most and who will be around in the future to support this child. Trying to talk to them about it only makes it worse.

  5. Marlene says:

    I was part of this study, which is a portion of a much larger, longetudinal study conducted by this group. Over eight or so years their greater study of Adolescence/ adults and their families presenting with autism has looked at a number of issues and published on a number of related subjects central to living/coping with autism, including siblings, fathers, individuals w/autism, etc. Those who feel slighted that this study did not include other disabilities should recognize that other groups have done their own studies. This one happen to compare the stress levels of Mom’s navigating older children w/autism and the stress of our military. The grant for this research is specific to older individuals and families living with autism. This is one of the few studies that targets the older population and uses the information to help enlighten others on our lives and advocates for our needs. And for those who say we should not complain about the stress in our lives, I would ask you to walk in my shoes for a few days. I adopted my son; I love him dearly, but life with autism changes every part of a parent’s/families life cycle…it impacts on everyone and continues to do so each and every day and throughout the entire span of our lives.

  6. Shannon Murphy says:

    As a single mother with no outside support and raising a child with autism I can attest to the fact that more respite services would greatly improve both the lives of the child and the parent. While my daughter has greatly improved in behavior recently due to medication (which I fought forever and now wish I had done sooner) there was a period of many years where I honestly didn’t know if I had the strength and energy to do it all over again the next day. There was no relief and it took a major toll. I now have limited respite services provided by the state and value that time away to refresh myself. It’s also good for my daughter to have experiences away from me. I can’t say enough about respite.

  7. Jennifer says:

    I have a 10 year old son with Autism and my husband helps me tremendously, however, he works 12 hours a day 6 to 7 days a week because I had to put my career on hold once my son was diagnosed. I worked for a law firm who decided that since I could not work the 10 hour days and take tons of work home and stay on top of it that my commitment level was not there so they asked me to make a choice. The obvious choice was my child, so now I am a stay at home mom and again my husband helps me and we are a great team but I feel like as a mother I do worry more and stress more. My husband always says it will all be ok and work out whatever way it is supposed to but for me that is never enough. I want to help him more, and I continue to push all realms to help him. I do not think this study was meant to discredit dads or men in general. I think it was done to show the stress that us mom’s endure!! I had my husband read it and he said this, ” Women in general stress more, and worry more about the kids, house and everyday things”. Men in general worry about the financial aspect, then the kids, then their wives. Just a thought !!

  8. Holly says:

    Of course Dads fare worse also. Its just “this” particular study was looking at women. This came across my fb the other day: More than 30 percent of fathers of grown children with autism experience symptoms of depression so severe that they warrant clinical attention.In a study presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research in San Diego, researchers found that fathers of adolescents and young adults with autism experience high levels of depression and are pessimistic about what the future holds for their son or daughter, much more so than dads whose kids have other disabilities like Down syndrome and fragile X.

  9. claudia enright says:

    “We need to find more ways to be supportive of these families.”

    In particular, the researchers say that parents need better respite options and flexibility from their employers. Further, they say, programs to help manage behavior problems can go a long way toward improving the situation for mothers and their kids alike.
    We also need family members to step in now at 43 I have arthritis bad and need all the help I can get great article thank you

  10. David says:

    What about dads who deal with their autistic children just as much as the mothers. People who write these and parenting articles focus on mothers yet do many seem to forget that these days some fathers are just as active as mothers in caregiving and raising their children. Maybe o e day we will get the recognition we deserve!!

  11. David says:

    To queen Wendy that is simply
    Not true. I have my children from 6a.m. Till 4 in the afternoon then work all night and am up am done most of the wee hours with them so I assure you in our household the scale is balanced at least. And there are many fathers just like me. We cook clean raise the kids work pay the bills and keep the household going. Personally I could care less if I ever get so much as a nod from the parenting community but don’t you dare convince yourself that women are the only ones!!!

  12. Tracy Grimes-Lane says:

    Awesome study and article. As the mother of a son ans a step-son, both with Asperger, and my son also having Bipolar Disorder, I now know what’s wrong with me! I have been to war and unfortunatley have remained deployed indefinitely! Thanks for the information!

  13. SingleDad says:

    As a single dad that has cared for (solely) my autistic son for the past 11 years (he’s now 18), and my 16 year old daughter with Asperger syndrome for the 4 years more or less on my own, I’m talking about day-to-day caregiving and everything on top of that. Positive reinforcement, daily training activities with social situations, home work, social behaviour, understanding of social context. Talking to them about relationships, hardships of growing up. How to handle financial matters. Providing them with a calm and harmonious enviroenment at home, lots of love and caring. Laughter! The list goes and on and on…
    I can testify that the study is a valid one as far as I can see. These facts about stress should be spread widely. Needless to say it’s hard for me to keep my family afloat as I have difficulties working fulltime while caring for my kids that attends college, as both of them do. Lucky for me I have an understanding employer. I can do some work from home from time to time.
    Queenwendy: not all mothers are there for their children. Sometimes the kids have only their father to rely on. So, sometimes it’s not a good thing to generalize your own personal view of gender role models as the “truth”. You have to give us single fathers some cred. We may be few, but we do exist.

  14. Lynda Tatrai says:

    What about moms with autism raising children? Moms with autism raising children with autism? Just curious..

  15. Debby Bateman says:

    I can believe this because my Grandson has Autism and my brother was in Vietnam and my husband was in Iraq. My Daughter is always tired, she never misses work but shes worn out. She’s a nurse so that doesn’t help and she is a single mom.

  16. Annie Eskeldson says:

    Just wondering if these moms were stay-at-home moms. I have 2 children on the spectrum, I have provided all of their therapy and homeschooling. I’ve saved us a ton of money and stress from not using ‘therapists’ or the ‘system’. My children are happy, getting a first class education, and using autism to their benefit. I don’t thing anyone needs to ‘support’ our families, we need to help parents stay married, learn to budget and live on one income. This helps to increase the number of alternatives parents have should special needs arise -such as autism. I personally don’t know how parents handle the school system, all that red tape, IEP’s, abuse, being left out of teacher’s plans, etc. etc. – I’d be stressed out too. Staying at home does have it’s challenges, and I haven’t had a break in 8 years. But, my marriage is strong, my family is close, and while we have our ups and downs, overall, we’re definitely up!!

  17. Katy says:

    I think this article is a bit of a “duh” moment. Parents of children with any disability would be more stressed than parents of children with no disability. That’s a given. But, it cuts to the heart of the matter, we need support, even if it’s just being there to talk when we call. We have children with Autism and the stress is so very high. I am a stay-at-home Mom. We homeschool. We have therapists that are awesome, but the brunt of the work falls on me. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I don’t want anyone else teaching or raising my children, but it’s not easy. I try not to complain as I chose to do this. I could put them in daycare and school and go back to work. I choose to stay home with them instead because my husband and I feel it’s the best for them and for us. But the stress is unimaginable. It’s all day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And, unlike kids with no problems, we don’t know that our caregiving will end at 18 when we cry tears of joy and sadness as they drive off into the sunset for their first day at college. It could very well be one we live with for life.

  18. Val Wiggin says:

    I’m grateful for this research, that someone is recognizing what we go through. My husband and I are always on survival mode. It can get dark, when you realize there is no end to our battle. We don’t really get ‘leave’, (who can afford that, with autism medical/therapy draining all your expenses?) – quitting is not a viable option – we don’t get to retire – and we have to worry about setting up our children’s future for when we die – actually, we become as healthy as possible and try to live forever – because no one will love and care for our intense-special-needs kids like we do.

    We love our battle, we claim our battle, and thanks for the recognition.

    We get very little, outside of the media that we are gullible, emotional, and mislead by alternative medicine, etc. Thanks for this! I wish this were in headline news. I’m so used to the negative press about parents of children w/ autism, this is refreshing.

    Mom of 2 children w/ severe autism, one w/ PDD, and one with developmental delays

  19. Dr. Michael McManmon says:

    Having worked with “Aspie moms and dads” for 37 years, I have nothing but compassion for them. I call it the “Steel Umbilical Cord” that connects them with their children, and it needs to be cut from both sides by a diamond bladed saw. Moms have had to be case-managers, social workers, psychologists, activity directors, etc for their sons and daughters. The stress is huge on each parent and between them. Parents need to take care of themselves as much as their children in order to maintain balance.

  20. Lynn says:

    Very true but all family members, mostly mothers, experience profound stress in caring for those with ALL disabilities, not just those with autism. More supports for the caregivers and doctors are needed to acknowledge, support and implement these options, including respite care and not just roll their eyes at us if we dare to speak up for help and support.

  21. Cindy Montgomery says:

    Invite a child with disabilities to your child’s next birthday party, even if you’re afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing…. Feeling like our kids belong relieves a lot of stress!

    Just a thought.

  22. chrissy says:

    Wow, as a single mother of a 19 year old son with pdd, cerebral palsey, autistic tendencies, adhd…. i am a soldier at war myself it is very difficult to get a job and keep one due to calls and hours of my operation (active duty). Hence the fact there is another child on an i.e.p. in the household. However it is my duty as a parent to provide for my son the best of my abilities, no blame for the absent parent that couldnt cope. I have been rewarded and will continue to serve for he is my reward to watch him grow and change and be the best he can is huge a reflection of my duties.It isnt a gender it is a fact well stated we are blessed even if we are exhausted and stressed. Bottom line we need to be educated, We need help!!

  23. Rosella A. Alm says:

    I am the mother of a 46 year old son with severe autism, severe intellectual disabilities, severe behavior issues, epilepsy, MRSA and many gastroenterological problems. Life as a combat soldier is a VERY MILD description of what life is for most of us. I could, and probably will write a book of the many indescribable and at times terrible and sometimes rewarding experiences I have had being a mother. I have had not only stressful days, but stressful nights as well.

  24. Rita says:

    I am a grandmother of a 3 yr old autistic child. His mother “flew the coop” a long time ago, and my son has been full-time father and caretaker. I had him quit his job to do this as I still have to work full-time. No one else could do better, love more and nourish his child more than he.The mother is not needed in his life.

  25. Carol says:

    Hi Cindy
    I just love your thought about inviting a child with autism to someone’s house. This is a very good thought, but sadly it doesn’t happen often. One of the big stresses is feeling isolation. Other parents can relax and chat when their children play together, while the parent who has the child with autism remains on guard – watching for what might happen. Not very relaxing, but better than isolation. If you know someone who has a child with autism, including them sometimes could be most helpful. What a wonderful thought!

  26. interestedparty says:

    I think that this study should be viewed as a start with limitations that can be used to generate new studies.. This is true of all studies. An eight day period of stress measurement may not capture the “condition trajectory” some days weeks, and months, may be different–and even stress hormone can vary during the day—a greater understanding of these trajectories will help policy makers provide support over the entire life cycle of the family. I am happy for the start, and look forward to ways to support caregiving families. This study, too, can be used as models for other disabilities. My hope as a researcher and a parent of a child who has a disability, is that we can learn from eachother and work together–despite our child’s age, disability, or our genders. We may do this work differently, have different experiences, and different stresses at different times, but we are all caregivers, working toward the common goal of supporting our children. Together, we can work toward improved policies and care for all of our children. Just a thought!

  27. Peggy Saint-Michel says:

    This was a good article but I would have liked more detail. I would urge you to rethink your title, though and change it from Autism Moms to Primary Caregivers. My son was primarily responsible for the progress of his step daughter who didn’t speak until age 5. His consistent love and unbelievably heroic efforts on her behalf from the time he met her at age 14 months are the main reason she is now speaking and functioning on grade level. You do so many men and grandparents a disservice with the Mom assumption. One Mom who’s proud of her care giving son.

  28. Rachel says:

    I think you have hit the nail on the head with the comment, “residue of daily stress”. It is all of those daily constant issues we have to deal with that wear us down. We don’t have family here and wish for people to love him without being paid to do so.

  29. chloe32 says:

    I am a mother of a ten year old daughter with autism and my other daughter has no disabilities. If their are fathers out there that take daily care of their autistic children. I think that wonderful. However, in my case I do all the caregiving, meetings, doctors appt’s, ect. Not all of us are lucky enough to have extra help. My husband tries but has no clue. It is one of the hardest jobs in the world to care for a child that can not talk or communicate in any way. I have to guess what she wants when she is upset. I am not always right and it can be frustrating for the both her and me. I will continue to care for her and fight for her. That is all any of us can do.

  30. Carla says:

    I am so lucky to work where I do. I work for a camp for children with special needs. They are extremely supportive when I have an issue with my son who has autism and is 22. But I can tell you that I feel stress all the time, I am always on edge, waiting for that next phone call or the next event. It is sort of like being on high alert at all times.

    My husband is great and he takes a lot of the burden when he can… but he seems to be able to ignore things more than I do. And of course, the schools and after care programs call the mom first. They never call my husband.

  31. Lu Harter says:

    I see the visible signs my daughter, a single mom, has with stress. Her eight year old daughter has Aspergers and infrequent but intense meltdowns. If she is out in public, when a meltdown occurs, she has to not only help her daughter through the melt down, she has to deal with those observing and the comments they make. She has become an amazing advocate for her daughter. Fortunately, her 20 year old son lives with her and does help watch his sister so Mom can get some down time. I am very proud of the three of them. Their lives are not easy.

  32. Kathi says:

    Caregiving for anyone who has any type of disability is very stressful especially where communication is limited. I wish everyone would stop singling out “a disability” and realize there are so many out there that have more than autisum who struggle everyday with communication. Cut backs on programs that help individuals and their caregivers are extreme today…..so much worry about everyone, but the folks who help develop these programs don’t realize how much help IS needed for the caregiver to manage stresses from themselves and their child/children.

  33. Elizabeth Simpson says:

    I agree totally. I mean since I found out my son had autism I have not been able to get or find a job, bc I am sooo worried that no one could handle watching him for a long period of time. I am still waiting to be aproved for respite. Cuz no will watch him on the budget that I have. I am trying my hardest to find a way to do what I need to do for him. Even though I love being a stay at home mom I would like to get at least time for myself.

  34. Tyler says:

    Wow Autistic people suck, guess they(we) should all just kill ourselves then. I mean seriously I understand it can be hard to raise an Autistic child, It can be damned hard to raise any child but this cult of worshipping how hard it is for parents of Autistic children, this portrayal of Autism as horrendous tragedy of Autistic people as not fully human. It is offensive to Autistic people. Also do parents newly discovering they have an Autistic child really need to hear how terrible its gonna be. Give them a chance to love their child for who they are. Its actually normal for parents to wish their child was someone different, normal but not particularly healthy.

  35. Nancy Peske says:

    Moms, please consider joining an online support group, perhaps through yahoogroups or Facebook (you can make it a closed group). You can often get instant emotional support, suggestions, guidance, and insights from moms who have been there. I am still in a support group with ladies I met online only 10 years ago when my son’s dev. delays were first diagnosed; I feel they are my true friends though we have never met. You are not alone. Be good to yourself. Rest, take walks, meditate, take relaxing baths, get respite care, call your church or community center or anyone who can hook you up to people who can lend practical support.

  36. Still Weird says:

    It angers me that autism is the “sexy” disability of the moment. What about PARENTS of children with other types of disabilities? We work just as hard at the balancing act.

  37. KathyK says:

    WOW! I have been following this site and it appears we are all in this together. There are NO friends that will help you in an emergency except your parents (if you are lucky to still have them around.) For Special Military parents – there is supposed to be some “special program” with the VA that will help you with your needs – but – they will FOLLOW you through the process, I have a 28 yr. old son dual DX with MR – Non-verbal autism and everything else that comes down the pike – haha – like PICA ! He is a Trip! I think the biggest issue with parenting a child with special needs is the COST! Let’s face it ~ Your Kid is your job!! And ~~ to the Daddies out there – WE DO appreciate everything that you do!! I found that A LOT of the Special Daddies “stuck” around more than the Deadbeat mothers in my travels.

  38. candie fairris says:

    i am mother autism adult she is 21 years old and she a handful i use have my best friend or my daughter watch her for me give me and her stepdad a break its got worse this year with her outburst crying hitting screaming all the time.. she on meds for it but it seems nothing helping…i had cancel an appt with the doctor while i was at the clinic cause she scream and hit me i told them i couldnt wait with her.. she doesnt like people at all.. it seem like me and her stepdad are alone on this…noone understand what we go through everyday….take care and god bless

  39. Laura Boyer says:

    I completely agree with this article, I just wish that people realized that while autism is so very prevalent and being recognized more and more these days, I wish more articles were geared toward including moms of all children of special needs. This article does actually say the research is about moms of children with disabilities, but the title should suggest that more. Sometimes I don’t even bother reading an article if I don’t think it will speak to me and with my time to myself very limited, I tend to judge that by the title.

    My daughter has a chromosome abnormality called 18P Syndrome and while it in of itself is very rare (1 in 50,000 live births) chromosome disorders in general are much more common than you realize. From my research I have read that 1 in 400 children is born with a chromosome abnormality. It is just frustrating to constantly read articles and posts geared toward autistic parents and not all parents who are dealing with extraordinary things on a day to day basis.

  40. Paula Kavolius says:

    This is a great article and will help a lot of people! Great job!

  41. Corriena Wallace says:

    I Love this site! Being, a Parent of an 8yr old autistic son.

  42. melissa says:

    We have 4 children, 3 are ASD and other multiple disabilities and one is bipolar. I have been doing this for 18 years I am past burned out and stressed out. I also have a diagnosis of depression (a longer story). It seems like I have 6 kids, they are all hyper its seem like a am out of my mind most of the time; balancing home, kids, school, doctors etc. I do not know if I am coming or going. I was told that running a family household is like running a business. Friends and family who know me know my state of mind, varying mood swings on a daily basis etc. But I have been doing this for so long others including myself are surprised I have not had a mental breakdown. I’ve had people say “I don’ know how you do it”. I joke about it so I do not go into a drepression state of mind. I would not change this for anything. even though my kids are autistic and bipolar I am happy to be able to watch them grow up and not have them taken from me because of their disabilities. Those who have autistic children know the daily battle and even though I do not know if I am coming or going I still manage to care for all 4 of my kids.

  43. Keri Bowers says:

    As the mom of an adult (23) w/ autism, I can say that my stress is very different now that he’s older and lives in an independent living situation through the ARC in Southern California. Instead of dealing daily with school, interventions and behaviors as I did as a single mother when he was young, I now deal with the stress of “systemic failures/issues” with college, social security, medical, transportation, staff, etc., along with my son’s administrative and executive functioning issues. Instead of worrying about language or melt-downs as I once did, I now deal with the fear of dying and what will happen to my son when I am gone (he has no other family except me and his younger brother.) This stress is amplified by the fact that I fear when the new DSMV comes out, kids like mine with HFA (PDD-NOS, Aspergers) will be booted from the system of supports they now receive. OH… IS THIS WHY I HAVE DEVELOPED AN AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE IN RECENT YEARS? HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.

  44. Ruth says:

    I am a mother of an adolescent with moderate to severe autism. When she hit puberty all hell broke loose…really big mood swings associated with self injurious behavior such as punching herself in the face with both fists at the same time. The self injury is pervasive, can go on for hours and quite disturbing.

  45. KS Granny says:

    I do not have a child on the autism spectrum, but have a friend who does. My immediate reaction to the headline of the article was that moms were selected for this study because they are most often the full-time caregivers, but that it is probably more accurate (if more wordy) to say that autism primary caregivers have stress similar to combat soldiers.

    Anybody who is offended by this comparison has no concept of what it’s like to be a full-time caregiver for an autistic child. Stress is not related to hard work, but rather to a dangerous and unpredictable environment – a perfect description of an autism family, above most other disorders.

  46. beverly grace says:

    It took a study to figure this out! Get real, in many places there is next to no help for those with autism, particularly for adults. I finally had to bring my adult son home as he was doing so badly he was in danger of losing his life. He was getting no appropriate services for his autism and minimally getting mental health services by those who had no understanding of his autism. Employment, social activities and supported housing would go a long way toward improving his life. I’m old and tired and poor and just don’t know what will happen when I die. My state has no effective adult services beyond those for very, very, very low IQ.

  47. heather hudson says:

    Shannon Murphy I so relate to you-please feel free to e-mail me -Heatherhudson5@gmail.com. I also am a single mother of a son with Autism [high functioning]and sensory issues and have little family support. I finally got my son much needed medication and respite support and this has improved his quality of life as well as mine and his older brother. I too wish I had done the medication/respite way earlier too-hugzzzzz also regarding David’s comment I too fear services and funding diminishing once my son reaches a certain age-same fears as you. Final part of my comment is that the reason the study and or magazine articles focus mostly about the mother’s is because only a small percentage of Awesome men/father’s actually step up to the plate and take an active interest and role in raising they’re child[ren] with special needs-it’s still a rarity but slowly is changing-I praise and admire all the father’s out there that are true men and step up to the plate and share the care and support and fullfill the needs of they’re children!

  48. heather hudson says:

    I so feel for Tyler who wrote in and has a form of autism-I just realized and gained new insight into how what us parents feel,say and go through yet really what is this all saying to someone who actually goes through autism.I feel so bad now for all our comments about how stressful etc..dealing with autism is making him feel so low that he wrote what he wrote-I personally no longer try to fix my son’s autism etc.. I love him and fully embrace him and his autism,he has taught me so much more about life and patience and love in a totally different but awesome way than I could ever hope to teach him. I would be lying if I didn’t talk about how stressful it can be at times,especially when no supports are available but I love my son and all individuals-abilities versus disabilities is what I like to say and live by. What is stressful to me is when my son is having a severe meltdown especially when in public and other’s get in our space,yell,stare angrilly at my son and I,try and charge at us etc.. If everyone would stop trying to act so damn perfect and just have a little empathy and be genuinly helpful in a nice not condecending way us parents would be a little more relaxed and less stressed. Tyler I so hope you know that I never meant to offend you or anyone else,especially my son who also has autism-re stress comments and I now will be even more sensitive and aware when talking about being a single parent raising a special needs child-because it’s not his autism that is even stressful it is the general public-hang in there Tyler-group hug anyone :)

  49. Jane Salmon says:

    Let’s define stress. Just say that if your typical day starts with a child shouting, hitting and throwing things. The rest of the day involves two or three incidents in public that cause strangers to stare or to comment. The parent may want an overstimulated child to sit calmly and no where suitable seems to be available. The typical day is also interspersed with trouble crossing roads safely, expensive medical appointments, trips to therapists under protest from the child and ends with a series of clashes before refusals to eat the prepared meal or go to bed every day for each child or adult in the family on the spectrum for about 5 years, you are bound to end up in hospital. When my children on the spectrum were 5 and 8 (and when my partner was in denial about his autism let alone that of his children), I was very poor. There was no funding. Every day felt shattering. I was tired all the time. It was then found that I had not one breast cancer lump but 3 types of metasised cancer in my chest. Breast cancer tends to be tied to the amount of acute stress experienced. Meditation alone won’t fix it.

  50. Jasmine says:

    May I just say that I have been through all kinds of trauma before dealing with autism. I have dealt with poverty, depression, homelessness, sexual harassment, sexual assault, family break ups, rejection and under- employment. I have NEVER experienced anything as prolonged or profound as the stress of being an autism mother and partner.

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