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Autism Moms Have Stress Similar To Combat Soldiers

By Michelle Diament | November 10, 2009

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.

323 Comments (Open | Close)

323 Comments To "Autism Moms Have Stress Similar To Combat Soldiers"

#1 Comment By Marc On November 10, 2009 @ 3:18 pm

What about dads? I guess we aren’t active caregivers so we don’t count. Give me a break. Hey researchers, WAKE UP!

#2 Comment By haddayr On November 10, 2009 @ 4:01 pm

What Marc said; why on earth didn’t the researchers look at dads, too? My husband is the stay-at-home parent, and many, many parents work as a team — especially parents of disabled kids!

That said, the results of this study didn’t surprise me. When are the parents of autistics going to get enough supports so that they aren’t so constantly stressed out?

#3 Comment By luje35 On November 11, 2009 @ 10:10 am

I agree on both Autistic Mom’s and Dad’s have high level of stresses to deal with. Hsw about parent’s and caregiver’s of MR/Down’s/physically disabled/-syndrome after syndrome. We all have high level of stresses to deal with. We all need suppport not just in autism.

#4 Comment By Mary Fletcher Jones On November 12, 2009 @ 10:32 am

I have been a parent of a child with autism for 11 years and part of the disability community for nearly as long. For 10 of those years, I have been a divorced parent. This study is valid and important. No study has to be all encompassing to be valuable. No one is saying men don’t help parent their children, and don’t suffer stress as caregivers, but OVERWHELMINGLY when you look at the population as a whole, on my observation, it is the moms who are in therapy waiting rooms and doctor’s offices — and I have been in scores of them — at least 10:1 if not more. Overwhelmingly, it is mothers who are the primary caregivers; the ones who are called in to school to deal with illness or behavior issues. I don’t personally know one man who suspended or gave up his career to address their kid’s needs, but I know of PLENTY of moms who did, including me, a single mom, and I had shared custody.

#5 Comment By Blondie50 On November 12, 2009 @ 10:44 am

I agree with the above poster that talked about looking at both moms and dads. It takes a good team to deal with what we have in our homes.

Also, why not look at those of us, including myself, who have two young adults living in our homes who have developmental disabilities? Sometimes, my son with Down syndrome is more stressful, especially because of all of his medical problems. Sometimes my son with Classic Autism is more stressful such as when his one to one aide is changed at school.

We deserve combat pay! At least soldiers get to go home once in a while, and they had a choice to join the military. We continue to live it for years upon years with no end in sight and we did not necessarily choose this lifestyle. We need more supports that are reliable. For example, I am tired of having respite scheduled and it gets cancelled at the last minute, a new respite worker shows up with no training, or nobody shows up at all. Then I have to deal with two young adults who don’t understand why nobody is coming. Now, that’s stressful!

#6 Comment By Coffeecake On November 13, 2009 @ 11:31 am

This is a very important article. I don’t believe that men are “left out”. I think that the writer meant, “caregiver parent”, but due to the fact that most often it is the mother, the writer just used “mother”. Of course the article pertains to whomever the parent caregiver is.

#7 Comment By Marc On November 13, 2009 @ 3:36 pm

Mary, Let me be your first husband who has “sacrificed” his career to be a full time team member with my wife in raising our son. Yes, I do go to school meetings, vocational planning meetings, doctor’s appointments and have stayed overnight in the hospital several times. I worry and plan for the future. My wife and I are in this together, I rely on her and she relies on me. There is no primary care giver in our team. We are just two loving parents who will sacrifice everything to provide for our child. Are we unusual? I certainly hope not.

(Very happyily married for 28 years)

#8 Comment By singlemom On November 15, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

I fully agree with the posters’ comments about dads being considered in a study such as this. However, I am assuming that a key part of this study was ommitted: that they researched *single parents* and thank God they did! Not to belittle the pain that couples go through, being a single parent of a special needs child is a totally different animal. There is no partner on which to rely on or trade out responsibilities. Here in Texas, there is a twelve year waiting list for *any* supported services, and that includes respite. There are relatively few support groups that meet the needs of single parents; for example, our one and only *local* AU support group meets at 7:30 p.m. My son *must* be heading towards bed at 7:30 – 8:00 p.m. Therefore, I cannot *tag team* to attend the support\informational meeting. My son was (wrongly) expelled from his last school multiple times this school year, and I was the sole person available to take time off of work to stay home with him. Whenever my son’s *father* is called to active duty in the reserves, we lose our child support for months thanks to a bureaucratic snafu. *I* absorb that hit, in addition to balancing the daily stresses of negotiating AU.

While I’m very glad that attention is being paid to the tolls placed upon parents of special needs kids (esp. AU), I *really* wish more attention and services would be directed to sole caregivers of AU\special needs kids.

#9 Comment By dougs On November 16, 2009 @ 5:38 am

As a father of a child with autism, I think this article is spot on. What I find most stressful (given that I work and my wife stays home as the caregiver) is that I have to learn to live with my wife’s emotional roller coaster ride resulting from her stress. It’s a different kind of stress for me and I often have to bottle it in as my major role is of support. I’ve long given up any social life and have inentionally shyed away from jobs that require travel or long/odd hours. I need to be home as much as possible.

#10 Comment By Aysha On November 16, 2009 @ 10:04 am

Ok just reading all of the above quotes and I believe we are reading to much into this. I am a parent of a 13 year daughter with down syndrome and autism. All the challenges we face on a daily basis is hard work. I am fortunate to have a loving husband who is the step father of my daughters.He takes pride in learning and understanding the challenges that I faced before he entered our lives and I must say he does a damn good job on understanding and learning the day to day challenges. So this goes out to both mothers and fathers keep doing what you are doing and advocate for our children because if we don’t who will.

#11 Comment By sally On November 19, 2009 @ 11:15 am

My husband of 33 years as stood by my side and I would like to thank him for loving our son who is now 29 as much as I do. We have done a good job and have a happy family. We have had our day to day challenges, but we have also been there for each other.

#12 Comment By Fran Basche On November 20, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

I am sure in fact that they only picked mothers, and not necessarily single mothers, because they needed enough of a sample size of one type of person. Wouldn’t work from a research standpoint to have six mothers and two fathers.

Fathers often don’t volunteer as much for these kind of studies. That said, they could try to find eight fathers with significant caregiver time of their child to compare it to the mothers.

My ex is a wonderful and totally involved father of our child with Autism, but I know many other divorced (and still married) fathers who are not. There are some mothers who are not involved too, but for the most part, my experience has been meeting women whose ex’s spend much less (or barely any, or none at all) time taking care of their child with Autism.

#13 Comment By Norma On November 24, 2009 @ 11:20 am

What is the hormone?? This is a good story, but not a surprise. I’m entering menopause early because of the stress and constant sleep deprivation. I am not complaining – but it has definitely impacted my body in a major way, and my doc is checking hormone levels (among other things). We’re looking into bio-identical hormone replacement (low level) supplements to help me feel better. There’s more information to be had…there may be options for moms, especially those in their 40s and older, to help them care for themselves a little better. AND – yes, autism dads rock! My husband is fiercely dedicated to our son and extremely involved 24/7.

#14 Comment By VerbalFlax On February 12, 2010 @ 2:06 pm

Here’s an idea for follow-up piece:

Pentagon Investigates Autism-Dad Invisibility Phenomenon for Combat-Soldier Protection

The Pentagon reported today that the Disposable Dads Advanced Research Projects Agency (D-DARPA) has awarded a major new research contract to a subsidiary of the J. M cCarthy Innovative Science for the HOmeland Territory, also known by its acronym JMcCarthy IS HOT. JM IS HOT will be investigating potential new applications of the now well-established principle that hot moms with autistic kids are 300x more effective at overshadowing the tireless and thankless work of fathers in favor of the equally demanding work of mothers.

“We think this is an important phenomenon, because this ability to be continuously succeed at being totally dismissive of dad’s has been amazingly resilient even in the face of mountains of evidence that the stresses on dads is equally severe. These Autism Dads continue to be resilient in carrying out their duties as a parent, to a degree that requires an unusual level of tenacity given biological anthropological imperatives of the male to diversify their procreation base,” said the Pentagon spokesperson. “To us, it makes no sense– their contributions are largely ignored and unsupported, and yet they continue to perform, becoming even more invisible the harder they work. We think this could have some applications for protecting our combat soldiers in the field.”

#15 Comment By Crobinsonrocca On April 6, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

I have read the comments with a bit of amusement… the reality is that when there is a two parent family, most of the caregiving falls to the mother, regardless of whether the children have a disability. It is rare to find a father who is cooking the meals, washing the clothes, packing the school lunches, doing the housework, etc. on a regular basis. I am 45 years old so perhaps the ‘younger generation’ is a bit more evenly distributed for household duties. The way it worked in our house was that my husband had a good paying job so he went off to work each day to make the money to pay for the therapy and other necessities of life. I stayed home and tended to the daily household tasks which included running ABA programs for our multiple children on the spectrum. His stress was different than mine but I am sure it was just as bad. We’ve talked a lot about what it was like in those dark days before recovery and he admits that he often stayed late at work to avoid coming home to the misery — including how I was feeling/acting at the time. I spent a lot of time feeling like I was a prisoner in my home. But, really, the bottom line is this: nobody forces you to become a parent; you volunteer for the job… and nobody promised you an easy time of it either. Yeah, it sucks to have a child that isn’t perfect and requires more work and sacrifice than the neighbour’s kid but you have to play the hand you are dealt… what determines your character is how you play that hand. We chose to be stoic to the outside world, rage at each other about life’s unfairness and show our children the strength and determination they needed to get through the tunnel. Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the ability to perform in spite of it. If more parents spent last time bemoaning their situations and more time figuring out how to have their best life I think we would all be a little happier.

#16 Comment By snadel On April 6, 2010 @ 3:50 pm

Please do not forget that there are actually some single fathers of children with autism out there. One wonders why there is really no research on this subgroup. There’s some research on mothers and fathers that does separate the results of mothers and fathers. But we are left with only a few unscientific testimonials about being a single father.

As someone who raised a son with autism as a single father for four years (I’m now married but I am still a primary caregiver), I know that it is very difficult. Single mothers have others to go to for support, but single fathers have no one. We are not accepted in any primarily mothers’ groups, and married dads, if they ever get together, really do not experience the same path. I can tell you that I had the physical symptom of a hammer hitting me over the head every morning. Yet, it actually went away when my present wife moved in.

If anyone is interested in what the research is out there about fathers of ASD, in general, I did an exhaustive literature review as part of my comprehensive exams for my doctorate. I’d be happy to pass it along.

#17 Comment By rasheeda_waters On May 27, 2010 @ 10:16 am

Wow my reaction to this article is shocking to me I had no idea of the stress levels these women with autism children and I’m glad that they have services available to help the parent and child manage some problems.

#18 Comment By cornwall On June 17, 2010 @ 9:46 pm

Depending on the timeframe in terms of the age of the child I could say that any of us having children with disabilities fall in the same category as the mothers in this research. It isn’t always about autism!!!!

#19 Comment By donna28 On August 20, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

It may not be that researchers are ignoring fathers. You can’t compare hormones because obviously men and women have different ones at different levels. It’s apples and oranges.

#20 Comment By Heavenly59 On September 15, 2010 @ 10:10 am

I am glad to hear from so many committed dads. My ex- was 45 when our son was born in 1987. Although his inability to accept or later, to understand, my son’s diagnosis undoubtedly caused his own stress, my son has always been my responsibility. My ex-husband faithfully attended IEP meetigs, and still attends ISP meetings. We live in RI; when my son turend 18, my ex moved to Floriday with his new wife without even giving me a heads-up that he was going to do so. Although he spends some time every year back in RI, in the 8 years we have been apart, my son has spent fewer than a dozen nights under his father’s roof. His new wife is a former special ed teacher, and has been very good to my son.
However, there is no help with the day-to-day issues others have cited–paperwork as he entered adulthood, doctor and dental appointments, etc. I am remarried, and my husband spends more time with Andrew than his father ever did. Because of his patience, Andrew has learned some good landscaping
skills, and other work habits, and still lives with us happily at 23, although he is looking forward to his own place in the near future. My ex is now 68–he is perhaps, of a different generation. I think the younger dads , even in their 50’s and 40’s seem more involved with their children in general, and also with their children with disabilities. This is a good thing. But to the woman who says she sees 10 moms for every dad in waiting rooms, at school meetings, etc. I say this is still my experience as well. But I see a lot more dads at playgrounds,, restaurants, and other public places, who are obvious deeply involved in the caregiving of their disabled child. Although they may overlap, the sexes have different strengths. As long as we work together for our children, that’s fine!

#21 Comment By AlanonRelative On September 23, 2010 @ 11:23 am

I agree that it is hard and I sympathize to an extent. That being said, why does everyone expect help or respite care or anything else? Having children is a CHOICE. Imperfect children are a very real risk people should consider when deciding to be a parent. I think parents should own it and move on instead of complaining about the help they do not get.

#22 Comment By KateGladstone On September 24, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

Hasn’t anybody looked at the stress levels of us folks who actually *have* the conditions?
From what I observe and experience, I believe that we folks on the spectrum have even more and higher stresses than our parents.

#23 Comment By gallagirl On September 28, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

Combat soldiers suffer from “post traumatic stress syndrome”. The irony with parents of children with autism is there is no “post”. It is ongoing and everchanging as our children age.

#24 Comment By Mary E. Ulrich On September 30, 2010 @ 10:31 am

In reading the comments, there are many questions about why not dads? or why not other disabilities?….
The answer to those questions is in the practice of research. One of the reasons I went back to higher education was to figure out how the researchers think.

From the information in the article, this is a study of 10 moms for 8 days in a row.

Big Whip! It’s appalling, it’s ridiculous to think it is such a small sample, but that is how research is conducted.

All parents, first of all is it a surprise to any of us that the final results showed we have more stress? But just because we all know it, our “opinions” are not scientific. We live it, we don’t research it. We get researched upon. We are the subjects. And in this world, only the “professionals” data and results count.

But that is not how research is done and researchers think and people who make the rules base it on scientific best practice. So we have to learn the rules of the game and just like we then make sure they play fair.

So, don’t get too excited. Great, this study (of 10 moms) is a start in the right direction, but this research will not even be validated as real until the results are repeated in other studies.

It’s just research. If we can learn something from it, if we can improve our lives or our childrens’ then great. Take it at face value.

And, we can insist they start to conduct more studies.

#25 Comment By PhilS32767 On October 23, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

I am a parent of an autistic son and I concur with Kate Gladstone.
I’d also like to point out that many of the major autism organizations, Autism Speaks the biggest among them, use fear and pity to fundraise and establish media presence. This only exacerbates the situation. It not only elevates levels of parental stress, it sends terrified parents running into the arms of the burgeoning quack autism “treatment” industry.
Autism, and parenting autistic children, does *not* have to be a tragedy. As just one example of change for the better (by the way, consistently advocated for by adults living *with* autism themselves, at all points on the spectrum): if only a fraction of the amount that Autism Speaks and other major autism organizations spend on advertising based on FUDD (fear, uncertainty, doubt, and dread) were instead spent on ensuring that every autistic child who does not acquire expressive speech is guaranteed literacy education and training in and use and ownership of text-to-speech and other types of AAC (alternative and augmentative communication) devices, so that maladaptive behavior does not become the means of expressive communication of last resort — which it *will* in the presence of acute need and the absence of better alternatives — there would be a *huge* reduction in the number of tragic horror stories of out-of-control behavior and empty lives.

#26 Comment By rnbsn38 On October 27, 2010 @ 3:05 pm

First of all I would like to take the time to comment on the AlalonRelative’s comment. A child with a disability is NOT an “imperfect” child. All children, with or without disabilities are perfect children. Secondly, until you have experienced the joys and stress of supporting an adolescent/ adult with Autism you cannot understand the need for respite. Parents with children who do not have a disability hire babysitters so they can go out at night up until the child is old enough to stay home independently. Then that child becomes an adult and the need for a babysitter is a mute point. A parent of a child with a disability needs a babysitter who is specially trained to care for child with a disability so we are not talking about the neighborhood teenager. Further more, depending on the severity of the disability the child/adolescent/adult with a disability may never be able to stay home alone while the parent goes out to get much needed socialization, grocery shopping, stress release etc. I am a parent of an adult diagnosed with Autism and a moderate intellectual disability and I also work in the field that support adults with intellectual disabilities as a Registered Nurse so I am exposed to a variety of people with a variety of intellectual disabilities. People with Autism have sensory sensitivities that people with other types of intellectual disabilities may not suffer from, that may cause a hardship for them when they are out in the community. With that said, it is at times more difficult for a person with Autism to be active in the community. As a parent of an adult son with autism, I want to expose him and give him every oppurtunity to be active in the community as I can. I can honestly say that it can be very stressful as a parent wondering if my son is going to become overwhelmed by the enviromental stimuli when out in the community and demonstrate a challenging behavior. So the need for services is very real for parents who are supporting children and adult children with disabilities to increase the person’s with disabilities quality of life.
I also want to say Kuddos to all you dads out there that are very involved with their children with disabilities. I am a single mother and have raised my son with Autism and two other children alone for the last 25 yrs. My son’s father has not seen my son with Autism for over three years but he does visit with the other two sons.
I agree with what Mary E. Ulrich states in regards to this being only one study but a start. This study does give a scientific basis to what we all knew all along. I am sure in the future there will be studies that include fathers and both parents when researching stress levels of parents who support children with disabilities. This is only the beginning…

#27 Comment By feliciad37 On November 7, 2010 @ 8:15 am

I have a child with autism. For a period of 2 years I was working 6 day work weeks. This was required for my job. At that time my son who was 8 years old was having melt downs at school. The school was calling me at work to come and help them. The stress was unbelieveable, I can see how a mothers stress could be the same as a combat solider.

#28 Comment By defying0gravity On November 14, 2010 @ 8:25 pm

To all,
You should stop complaining about how hard you work. It is just as hard for siblings. I am a sister of a 12, almost 13 year old severely autistic brother, who does not talk, is not even potty trained and cannot even dress himself. I have to explain to so many people why my brother is different, and you try explaining to a three year old, why my brother cannot talk and why he is different. At school, I have to remind people daily to stop making fun of the kids in the autism program, which is also at my school. You talk about how you are so stressed. But guess what. Who gets less attention from her parents? me Who has to stick to HER brothers schedule? me. but of course, since i am not the parent i get no recognition. It would be nice to not here you complain, and to be grateful, that it is not worse. It could be so much worse.

#29 Comment By Kim Butler On November 18, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

I am thankful for this early research study done. I am the parent of a 15 year old severely autistic young man who is non verbal and highly aggressive. He is unable to attend school due to the severity of aggression – we have a full blown ABA program here at home and the cost of this is overwhelming. My husband and I have aged 15 years in the last 5 years. My 16 year old daughter has been shuffled and adjusted around his schedule. Everyone is this family has sacrificed for him in order to keep him at home with us where he belongs. To get some respite time would be such a blessing and may add some value to my family member’s lives. Until you live it – please don’t verbally attack these families – you have no idea what each individual family is dealing with and that a little respite could be the difference in the loss of a child to an institution or worse.

#30 Comment By dnh On November 24, 2010 @ 4:28 am

We have both an Autistic son age 10 and another son diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, aniexty OCD.
Our autistic son is very loving, sweet, usually very happy, never complains about going to school and
he is very obediant. He does not stress us out nearly as much as our son with ADHD. He on the other hand is extrememly strong willed and controlling. He tries to control the whole family. I do feel like my Autistic son is probably affected more by anxiety over how he deosn’t understand others sometimes or the way people react to him. Those things really bother him. People acting like he’s weird is what bothers me the most and worry what would happen if my husband and I passed away, I feel like no one would understand my Autistic son like we do. He does things so different and he requires a lot of explanations on a daily basis. He and I are so close that I can’t imagine him not going into a major depression with out me to be here for him. I do so much for him and no one gives him the love like I do. I am 45 and my husband is 53. We also have 2 daughters age 5 and 2, so we are older parents and have no friends who relate to our situation what so ever. Even our own families don’t at times. Traveling for us has been difficult, I can’t begin to tell you. I just wish that people would understand that unless you’ve been in someones shoes, you have no clue what they go through. I always know there’s two sides to a story and my story with my sons disabilities can be very stressful at times to the point where we don’t socialize nearly as much as we did prior to having children and the fact that people don’t understand why we don’t have time hardly anymore, at least while they are so young is what bothers me personally. Children require so much attention and I hate having to feel guilty for having to put things on hold until my children are somewhat more self sufficient, but as a responsible loving parent, my children is my first priority. Thankfully my husband and I both feel we are doing what is in the best interest of our family most of the time. I wish our families would understand how it makes it harder to socialize with 4 kids.
People need to understand that even doing homework with a child with adhd can sometimes take twice or three times as long as it would with a normal child. I feel like I could write a book on all this. I just know that my having children with disabilities makes me so much more understand about people who have their own children with disabilities, I can usually relate to them on some level better than some of my own family members.

#31 Comment By tshearer On February 11, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

I find it a little bit irritating that someone says well you joined the military so that’s what you get….I am married to a 8 year active duty Army officer and yes he has been to Iraq several times. That is hard, very hard, but yes, it doesn’t last forever….on that note, some people come back from war and DO LIVE WITH IT EVERYDAY, the rest of there lives. These people should be thanked! Because of these men and women we have FREEDOM!! :)……We have 2 children a 4 yr old son with severe Autism and a typical 2 yr old little girl. Our son needs constant care and will for years to come. We chose to have our son and although our daughter was a surprise I wouldn’t change it for the world. Grant is an amazing little boy and when he smiles it melts your heart. Is it stressful??? Yes of course it is. But I am able to deal with this stress. The hardest part of all of it is when your Childs other parent can’t be there bc of military obligations. (No this is not the same as another job. you can quit your job and find another one. If you try to just walk away from the Army you go to jail.) Even MOST single parents have the other person come to CAT scans and other test that require your child being put under. The worst part is when your child is sick and cant say ‘mom my tummy hurts’……So do I think alot of moms or dads have problems coping? Yes. But I don’t understand why. My husband is a soldier and gone most of the time. Leaving me a ‘single’ parent to do everything Grant needs and take care of our little girl. Praying no one knocks on my door to tell me he isnt coming home alive. So even with both these stresses I take no medications, don’t smoke, drink, or over eat. My family is blessed! God knew what he was doing when he gave me my husband, the Army, our son, Autism, and our little girl.

#32 Comment By LSC On February 15, 2011 @ 7:10 pm

The thing that is good with this type of research is that it gives credence about what we say and experience to those who don’t or can’t understand. So it could be used to improve access to services at some point because there is more “objective” proof for what we tell them. It isn’t just us being weak, stressed out for no reason, and/or exaggerating, self-pity Moms (and Dads, for those who are as hands on).

#33 Comment By caz08 On February 16, 2011 @ 8:17 am

I am a mum of a daughter with autism and i have bipolar 2 myself. I also have a supportive ex-husband when he is able to help (in between work hours).
Is there a need for so many negative comments on this article? The point of this research is to try to help those with AUTISM, their parents, family and friends! There is research being done on many other disabilities as well! (i know there is research done on the impact of Down Syndrome, bipolar, fathers/ single fathers who look after children with disabilities, add/adhd, sibling stress, children with cancer, epilepsy, cystic fibrosis, blindness/deafness, and so on). Depressing to see a lot of commenters are trying to prove to each other who has the worst life! We ALL should be supporting each other, no matter the disability, we ALL go through this ‘Combat stress’! Please show some respect for each other on here and please don’t get angry at the researchers for this article. They are just trying to help! Every bit of help goes a long way……for everyone.
Kudos for those of you who appreciate and praise people in your life who help you day to day! Love your comment Sally! :-)

#34 Comment By Marcieperry On February 25, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

Being parents and caregivers to a person with a disability is extremely stressful. Its not just Autism. Caring for Physically challenged persons can be very stressful, especially when their bodies don’t flex & bend as you need them to-their muscles spasm when they need to, not you; your day starts with and ends with the physical challenge of caring for the physically chalthenge. You can be worn out just getting them ready for school. Think about MR and epilepsy, downs syndrome, and the list goes on. ANY DISABILITY CAN CAUSE STRESS TO THE PERSON WITH THE DISABILITY AND THE PARENTS/CAREGIVERS. Its not all about Autism.

#35 Comment By suzec1 On February 25, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

Finally, I felt validation after reading this article…this kind of life can be very stressful, but when the magic moments come, boy does this make up for all the suffering and makes us glad we have these children that GOD created just perfectly…..my son is living with me since the divorce and I enjoy any moment that we share that special laugh together….he is soon to be 24 this year. This is the first time I have seen an article like this one…I will post to others for sure…every little thing that helps us feel better…Amen

#36 Comment By margomouse On March 1, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

A couple of points I find interesting here…… First of all- the title says “Autism Moms Have Stress Similar To Combat Soldiers” NOT “ONLY Autism Moms Have Stress Similar To Combat Soldiers,” or “ONLY MOMS of children with Autism Have Stress Similar To Combat Soldiers”— SO read it for what it IS! It is NOT false advertising. I am the proud mother of 2 boys with autism, ages 12 and 10. I was told years ago by the mother of a girl with Downs syndrome- that she was more lucky than I. (Interesting her perspective). She KNEW before her baby was born that she had Down’s Syndrome- and my boys’ autism was obviously not visible in any blood work, ultrasounds or anything else. There was not any forewarning, it just comes in the middle of the night- and steals your “typically” functioning 18month old child- and gives you a whole new set of expectations, and a new life. I have also been told in the past year by a friend of mine who is the proud mother of a 13 year old daughter who has a SEVERE developmentally disability – who can’t swallow, speak, sit up on her own etc…… that she has it MUCH EASIER than I. I had always thought of it the other way around, however she watched me as I nervously chased around my boys at a fun evening social event- never sitting down and relaxing ALWAYS 2 steps behind my boys. Her response was that her daughter was essentially like an infant- she couldn’t move around enough to get into “trouble”, didn’t have behavior problems, could be relatively easily cared for by someone else if they were taught how to run her tube feedings etc…., and thus SHE had a much more peaceful life. YES she wasn’t without stress, but NO she didn’t endure the same type of stress that I had- in that a few minutes of my son left alone could result in water pouring into the downstairs kitchen from the upstairs bathroom. Her daughter did not obviously have the same independence as a “typically” functioning child- but at the same time- the intensity of the stress was much different than mine. So NO this isn’t a competition of who’s life is worse……. let’s look at what this article means and be THANKFUL that someone is paying attention to the needs of parents with children with disabilities in GENERAL!!!! If this article was about mothers of children with Downs syndrome- I would be welcoming the attention and support as well.

#37 Comment By caz08 On March 3, 2011 @ 8:28 am

Margomouse……just thinking….maybe we should have a party just for families and young children with autism. We can say hi as we run near each other while chasing our little cherubs around the place. It’s technically socialising! Will also keep us fit! We can even grab food for each other when we get the chance to pass any food tables! Feel exhausted already thinking about it! Combat soldier i definately am not! You would think that after many years of chasing my energetic and very curious daughter around, i would be fighting fit! lol. :-)

#38 Comment By ladyinred On March 4, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

As a mother of a 43 year physically challenged individual I can say that what causes us the most stress is dealing with all the agencies and getting needed services for our loved ones. Not to mention the paper work too.

#39 Comment By Excop On March 8, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

All the comments that pinpoint Dad’s v Mom’s is just asinine. Why is always me, me, I, I, It is totally stupid. The stress is on BOTH parents not just the Mother or the Father, the hell with those of you that are stay home Dad’s and Mom’s, what it should be about is the child. I have been a stay at home Dad and I will never look for any tea and sympathy for tending to the needs of my son and that is to care for him, To all of you that say well what about the Dad, STOP your whining, that is your child as well. To the study I say spend the money on finding out what is causing this epidemic and just this stop the poor me talk. Grow up, the child is the one suffering.

#40 Comment By Irishrose13 On April 6, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

I am a 62 yr. old single Mother of a 35 yr. old DS man, who lives with me. He has had behavioral problems his entire life, and has had many different medications to help him. The stress level in our home is crazy! He can go from being fine to totally angry in 5 seconds…no meds stop this…it’s just him! I have been punched, kicked, hit, shoved, & had 911 called on many occasions too. Our crisis center has no idea what to do, except prescribe another medication & send him back home w/ me. I have been told that the only way I will ever get help is to literally abandon him & refuse to bring him home. I cannot & will not do that to my son!!
Besides his disability, he is diabetic too, so life is very difficult here! It is stressful for any parent of a person with a disability. It annoys me when I hear so much news/help being offered to the Autistic population. I have been trying my entire life to get my son help, and believe me, in NJ, it is limited. We don’t even have family doctors, who are familiar with them. Many times, I have been asked what I thought should be done! Someone needs to help all of us! We all deserve combat pay, and yes, I am one of the ones, who gave up working ft because of my stress level and my son!

#41 Comment By missoz On April 16, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

Dads, I thank you, you are there when us moms fall apart, crumble at the end of the day you are there, Single Dads, you are to be commended, thanked, I hope you all have therapies in place that ARE adequate, well trained adn knowledgeable.
Researchers tend to follow a trail before the can ethically get to the root of the issue, if they do. what distrubs me about the portrayal in this article of the researh study is it leaves readers with a very negative impression. Downright Orwellian, this is one of the areas where peolpe who are not involved with ASD, Schizoprhenia, Downs, they simply do not understand why we cannot stand articles like this.

Ok, first off after following the link to the study, the study is qualitative, numbers:) Not a grand solution, numeric statistics, prevalence, occurence, determination. I have read part of the study ( 14 p.) either the researchers or the author of this article are not entirely familiar with the groups in the article.
The study is compairing cortison levels of mothers with kids w/ the following ASD, ADD, Schizoprhenia, Bipolar and Downs, or trather those results were part of the smaple group moms. THe total of moms in the group was 86… Research studies can be huge, rather fast.
As a parent of several young people in the particiapnt category( Autism, BiPolar, ADD & Schizophrenia, some of which is comorbid) We do become highly upset when we see studies that take place to .. count something yet they are not help.
Dads:)))))) For those of you that do stick around and shoulder the load God Bless you, Be Good and take care of yourselves. My marriage is older than my child on the spectrum, My husband is amazing, I would be a wreck without him, so would my family. We do work as a team and that is the only way we maintain relative sanity.
The gap betwen reseacrhcers what they research and us, huge. they have to generate a question define the particpant filed and then go find people representative of that group.
PArt of me as a mother feels bad about having my cortisol elvels compared t that of a combat soldier, my husabnd is a Veteran, and there is a very different level of respect and thatnks to all service men and women. The study is more intereseted in their homrone levels. Not comparison of the actual two groups mothers of adolescents navigating ASD, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, ADD and Downs We , parents of kids with needs can be heck on earth, we need to be for our children, but with grace, & knowledge that, “hell hath no fury” has a time and a place, It is just like an IEP there are times where it is easy to follow the derailing red herring and become emotionally upset, we are not accomlpishing deductive, logical, progress when that happens, We are, however communicating you are not giving my child sub standard help.
The article poses the research in an off, light. Part of the ethics of good research is that you must be familiar enough with the aprticipant community to express things with a fluency, respect and thorough understanding.

Not an easy task form either side, Trained, knowledgable support is needed, not inadequate services or individauls we cannot trust with our kids. This study presents in a bad light which is NOT the case all the time, which is why we have to be able to wield the advocacy well.
Possible solution.. researchers that raise young people with needs, with a support/ counseling to get research that will help our community, teamed with legal muscle to get what we need passed, enacted and funded.

#42 Comment By debrarae On April 19, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

Marc is right. Dad’s care for the kids too, and their input is vital.

As a mom with Aspergers, raising two girls with Aspergers … I made certain my husband was involved with the children.

One thing that the researchers should have (and didn’t look into), is that when both parents work as a team; the ‘stress’ is far less than when it’s only 1 parent raising both kids.

TO Marc and all the fathers who the researches ignored (through a over sight), I commend you for being a great dad and taking great care of your family.

#43 Comment By Miilanna On April 27, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

I wish people didn’t always assume that the parents of autistic children (young or grown) are all neurotypical. Autistic parents are NOT uncommon, and we have both neurotypical AND autistic children. Why is there no awareness, tolerance or support for us?

#44 Comment By dolphin11479 On May 2, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

I am a single mom with two boys with autism and it is very tiring especially trying to do it all. I agree with the article, but at the same they should have looked into those families that do have both parents. It is very hard trying to raise two autistic boys work and finish college myself. They need to think of all the children in these type of research programs because autism is so open in the spectrum that it can range from mild the severe.

#45 Comment By brownh2000 On May 19, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

Raising other special needs kids is apparantly not worthy of research. Parents should count themselves lucky if their child is “only” a child with Down Syndrome or CP. Being the parent of a blind and deaf child is apparantly not stressful.

#46 Comment By classymomma On May 31, 2011 @ 10:48 pm

#47 Comment By Stanelle On June 21, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

Very sad situation. There should be some sort of federal program for relief from stress for caregivers,..but this economy marks any such program would be the first to have it’s funding CUT!

#48 Comment By justanothermom On July 9, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

Since autism is probably the largest growing category of disabling conditions, it is easy to understand the selection of “autism moms suffer combat stress…” as a study. When it all shakes out, there is really not much difference between the labels attached to our children and the stress of the job; comparing my autistic child is more difficult than your Down syndrome child (well, mine has both), or an autistic child vs. deaf and blind, mom vs. dad, etc. Do you get the picture? We are all in this together, part of the larger disability community. Can we make it better for everyone, instead of looking only at our differences?
If getting a wheelchair ramp at a local auto dealers (because there are more disabled veterans coming back from Iraq) benefits all.

In this era of budget cuts, don’t be fooled by politicians who divide (“we’re not like those…”) and cut programs (because we are by and large politically silent–our kids don’t vote and don’t spend huge amounts of money getting the politicos reelected). Be visible, speak out.

#49 Comment By machellklee On September 7, 2011 @ 4:19 pm

when doing a study they have to have a control group and specific similarities to rule out to many variances tthat could make the results skewed. Mom’s and dad’s can see things diff on whats stressful and often have there own distinct way of parenting which is why a mom and dad working together can make a great team for their children (what about foster parents, grandparents or even adults taking care of ailing elderly parents. They also only chose one diagnosis…i could complain that they left out me whose child was severely disabled and i spent everyday keeping her alive and giving her whatever quality of life i could…how’s that for combat…so they had to be specific to make sure the results couldn’t be scraped, but i’m sure in the end it’s any caregiver to most any special needs child. Take a deep breath:)

#50 Comment By Chet Gunsmoke On September 28, 2011 @ 8:31 am

This is important research in that it gives a comparative base for the kind of stress that a dedicated person caring for a person with a serious disability like autism. This is not a contest to decide who in the panoply of caregivers has the most stress. The mother is among the most significant caregivers for persons with autism and many other disabilities. Therefore we can expect that as such the results of the study is probably a good indication of the kind and magnitude of stress dedicated personally involved caregivers contend with. Certainly the comparison to soldiers in combat clarrifies the level of stress they must face. Note: I am father of a 50 year old perso with autism.

#51 Comment By queenwendy On October 3, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

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.

#52 Comment By ccarolcc On November 13, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

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.

#53 Comment By seeandbesafe.com On November 14, 2011 @ 2:58 am

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.

#54 Comment By Annee On November 22, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

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.

#55 Comment By Marlene On January 5, 2012 @ 8:29 am

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.

#56 Comment By Shannon Murphy On January 5, 2012 @ 11:44 am

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.

#57 Comment By Jennifer On January 5, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

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 !!

#58 Comment By Holly On January 6, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

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.

#59 Comment By claudia enright On January 7, 2012 @ 6:03 am

“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

#60 Comment By David On January 7, 2012 @ 10:52 am

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!!

#61 Comment By David On January 7, 2012 @ 10:59 am

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!!!

#62 Comment By Tracy Grimes-Lane On January 7, 2012 @ 8:57 pm

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!

#63 Comment By SingleDad On January 8, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

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.

#64 Comment By Lynda Tatrai On January 8, 2012 @ 7:38 pm

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

#65 Comment By Debby Bateman On January 9, 2012 @ 9:31 am

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.

#66 Comment By Annie Eskeldson On January 10, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

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!!

#67 Comment By Katy On January 12, 2012 @ 7:45 am

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.

#68 Comment By Val Wiggin On January 12, 2012 @ 10:31 am

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

#69 Comment By Dr. Michael McManmon On January 18, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

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.

#70 Comment By Lynn On January 22, 2012 @ 12:26 am

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.

#71 Comment By Cindy Montgomery On January 24, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

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.

#72 Comment By chrissy On January 31, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

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!!

#73 Comment By Rosella A. Alm On February 3, 2012 @ 10:47 pm

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.

#74 Comment By Rita On February 7, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

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.

#75 Comment By Carol On February 18, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

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!

#76 Comment By interestedparty On February 19, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

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!

#77 Comment By Peggy Saint-Michel On February 21, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

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.

#78 Comment By Rachel On February 29, 2012 @ 5:35 am

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.

#79 Comment By chloe32 On February 29, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

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.

#80 Comment By Carla On March 2, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

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.

#81 Comment By Lu Harter On March 4, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

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.

#82 Comment By Kathi On March 27, 2012 @ 7:25 am

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.

#83 Comment By Elizabeth Simpson On March 29, 2012 @ 1:31 am

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.

#84 Comment By Tyler On April 24, 2012 @ 12:51 am

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.

#85 Comment By Nancy Peske On April 24, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

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.

#86 Comment By Still Weird On May 2, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

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.

#87 Comment By KathyK On May 19, 2012 @ 1:39 am

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.

#88 Comment By candie fairris On May 24, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

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

#89 Comment By Laura Boyer On May 31, 2012 @ 9:58 am

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.

#90 Comment By Paula Kavolius On June 11, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

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

#91 Comment By Corriena Wallace On June 14, 2012 @ 10:39 am

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

#92 Comment By melissa On June 27, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

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.

#93 Comment By Keri Bowers On July 10, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

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.

#94 Comment By Ruth On July 14, 2012 @ 12:50 am

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.

#95 Comment By KS Granny On July 20, 2012 @ 1:38 am

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.

#96 Comment By beverly grace On July 21, 2012 @ 7:12 am

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.

#97 Comment By heather hudson On July 23, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

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!

#98 Comment By heather hudson On July 23, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

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 :)

#99 Comment By Jane Salmon On August 14, 2012 @ 9:29 am

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.

#100 Comment By Jasmine On August 14, 2012 @ 9:33 am

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.

#101 Comment By Ann Hughes On August 15, 2012 @ 11:05 am

This article is so true. This is my life :) My daughter has high functioning Autism and she is 19 years old. She is happy alot of times, but when confusion and anxiety set in she has alot of physical and mental aggression. I feel so bad for her going through this, because she hates it. She’s exhausted from her “meltdowns”, and it’s also exhausting as Mom to go through. I would love to know of a support group of parents that have similar problems. Please send a list of any support groups in my area (Tomball Texas 77377 or Houston area), or on-line support. Thank you! Ann

#102 Comment By Breezy On August 18, 2012 @ 4:16 pm

It’s not just mothers of children with autism that have this severe stress, I am a parent of a child , now adult with cerebral palsy and developmental delay. Lifting, seizures, feeding issues, finding caregivers, getting the equipment needed to keep her safe and caregivers safe while meeting her needs is extreme and is a daily struggle. Having any child with a severe disability is extremely stressful.

#103 Comment By Jeanette dakessian On August 21, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

Amen to that!!!! I’m a single mom of a 12 yr old low functioning autistic boy. I also have a 10 year old “typical” girl! I work full time! My son has become aggressive and I’m making calls during breaks to Drs & special Ed director! Stress is an understatement!!! Exhaustion!! Lack of sleep( he wakes up at 5 a.m. Every day ready to go!! )
On the flip side! He has taught me patience , love & to truly appreciate the small things in life!!! Like making it thru cvs without a meltdown!!! Success!!!!
I think us moms should be paid to be able to stay at home with our autistic children!!

Mine is still in pull ups & doesn’t shower without help! Ugh but I love him dearly!!!

#104 Comment By Shelley Thomas On August 24, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

This is my reality as well. I have the hormonal imbalances, frequent disruptions at work, etc. However, the light at the end of my tunnel came through my introduction to Partners in Policymaking. It’s a national advocacy training program for those who want to advocate on behalf of people with developmental disabilities. Until then, I felt socially isolated and that no one understood what I was going through. No one in my family had dealt with anything like this and although I am very active in my community, very few people could relate to my experience. Because of my journey, I am beginning a business to help women gain strategies for learning to achieve balance in their lives. Although my business, Selah Retreats, was birthed out of my experience of parenting a child with special needs, I also recognize that most women lack balance in their lives for whatever reason. Therefore, I plan to offer resources and a support network for women to learn how to prioritize our wellbeing and wholeness so that we’re able to be more effective in our other roles as wives, mothers, employees, etc. SELAH.

#105 Comment By Amy Martinez On August 30, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

I totally agree. To Jeanette dakessian, there is a program where we get paid to do take care of our kids, but it is not till they are 18. Its called the HCS program and the wait list is 10 years. This program is offered in Texas but I dont know about other states. I got on this program last year and when my son turned 18, they offered it to me and I took it. It is called Foster Care. Basically, your disabled adult lives with you and you get paid to take care of him. It is tax free money. The amount you get paid is depending on what level of need they are on. My son is on the highest level of need because of his aggression. I also have a daughter that is 17 and will be the foster care parent to her once she turns 18 next year. The only downfall to this program is that it doesnt offer respite and you have to use your money that you get from foster to pay other people to do respite for your kids. My son is high functioning autism and my daughter is low functioning autism. As for being able to work, I haven’t been able to cause with me having 2 kids and them having their meltdowns and having seizures, there was no way. I haven’t worked in 6 years.

#106 Comment By carrie On August 31, 2012 @ 12:19 am

good information! been telling my doc this for years, although I think the numbers are a little low. I was called every day for a couple of years by the school or the day care with meltdowns everyday from minor to severe.
would have loved to participated in this study

#107 Comment By BEVERLY On September 19, 2012 @ 10:30 am

Reading what others have written is so very true. My 12-year old son is autisitc, along with other medical conditions. He suffers with seizures, he sleeps walk, and he is extremely hyper. Being his primary caregiver is hard work. I know all to well about lack of sleep, and feeling alone in this fight for my son. I have a 14-year old daughter, who is an angel, as well as protector of her brother. They have an unbreakable bond that is oh so real. My son has brought a great deal of joy, fullness and love into my family. Although, the fight for him can be at time unbearable, but seeing some process he has made, and hearing these word, : “I love you” or respond back to saying, ” I love you too.” makes all the lack of sleep worth the many nights without much sleeps.

#108 Comment By Mary Lucyk On September 20, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

I don’t have any help with my son who is down’s and asd. I am on a 10 yr. waiting list for services such as respite. I have been on this list for 5 yrs. in which time I have suffered alot of stress. My son has also suffered being in the school system undiagnosed for asd. He recently started having siezures due to high stress in the classroom. I really need someone to care about mine and others hopeless situations while waiting on a list.

#109 Comment By Eric On October 8, 2012 @ 10:51 am

I’m a widower, raising my Autistic child completely alone since his Mom died when he was 2. Men aren’t even included in studies like this, we are completely off the charts and also abandoned by the women’s groups who fight for equality, but forget about the men when the men are the “mothers”. These studies need to include both men and women who care for the child solely. Government supported respite services in Illinois have been completely cut off in Chicago where I live.

#110 Comment By Helen On October 12, 2012 @ 8:57 am

I agree with the article. I am a mom of 2 teens diagnosed with Autism. I also have ADD. Balancing services for two, working, and having time to invest in my marriage is a challenge; ensuring I don’t get distracted. Carving time for just me is a struggle. I have a constant feeling of being overwhelmed due to real life. My extended family does not understand because we are the first family to have children with this diagnosis. Luckily, we maintain a great sense of humor. We take the comment “weird” as a compliment. We celebrate the fact that we are all unique and gifted in different ways.

#111 Comment By Robin Costello On October 16, 2012 @ 10:15 pm

Ditto to all your comments. My son is now 22 and I’m exhausted, burnt out and I have no idea where my hormones are. Thank goodness my son has stabilized with the medication cocktail and age. My concern now is what will happen to him when I’m gone. We Mom’s understand them best.

#112 Comment By Tara Montague On October 24, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

Caregiver stress is the same with any child with special needs, not just when one has a child on the autism spectrum. Why do studies like this tend to segment out our populations instead of including all disabilities? And including dads as primary caregivers as well as moms?

#113 Comment By Tara Evans On October 27, 2012 @ 11:53 pm

Yes, being a parent to a child with any disability is extremely stressful. But– “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.” I think this is important to remember. Stress can be overwhelming sometimes, but I always look at it like this :: My son’s disabilities have taught me to live in the moment and appreciate, celebrate and cherish the little things in life. I really do have a lot of stress in my life due to Aaron’s issues, but I have more joy than anything else because of what his disabilities have taught me.

#114 Comment By Pen On November 2, 2012 @ 11:17 am

Was there a control group ie. mothers without autistic children?

#115 Comment By Teresa Daniel On December 15, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

It is tough. My son is 14, 15 in January. High functioning as. He also has epilepsy and other disabilities. He has melt downs, and gets very angry. I have serious epilesy and can not drive or work. No hubby, he couldn’t deal with it. I love my son. He is the music in my life. I am so proud of him when he learns something good. He’s my side kick.lol

#116 Comment By 20 miles away On December 18, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

may Nancy Lanza rest in peace- her stress is now over. seems like most have forgotten that she was victim # 1 on December 14, 2012. Naturally, I have ALL the victims, young & older, in my prayers & thoughts this week

#117 Comment By Nicolena On December 30, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

I am a mother of a 17 years old Autism Son with Panic Disorder and Anxiety. Also Partial Agenesis Corpos Colosum…I understand everyones frustration with the system and how do we as parents help our children when there is no help out there. Medicaid doesn’t help (constantly apealing) DDD doesn’t know anything. And each State is different. My son will be 21 in 5 years and then the stress of having to figure out what services he can get as a adult is stressful enough. Constant Worring is all I do. I currently live in NJ and I am wondering what states out there have the best programs for Children like ours who are becomming adults. ANYONE out there know?

#118 Comment By Christine Snyder On January 11, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

Honestly, I think the stress is worse. Because you never get R&R from the worry, and the responsibility doesn’t end.

#119 Comment By Marie On January 21, 2013 @ 9:40 pm

It is important to develop a life plan for your disabled children and not expect school or government to offer support or respite. I have three adult children with significant autsim and all have independent lives. I didn’t worry about the “I love you” or if they ever looked at me – I gave them independence, acceptance for who they are and skills to work outside the home. You waste your time waiting for the school district (IEP) or state to provide support. It wasn’t around for me and as our economy stagnates I am sure it will be gone.

#120 Comment By Helene Christopher On February 6, 2013 @ 11:07 am

I have a 21 yr old violent autistic son. I have often said I feel like I am in training for the Special Forces. You just always have to be prepared for the explosion that can occur at completely random times.

#121 Comment By Mary Cavanaugh On February 14, 2013 @ 10:14 am

I can so relate to this. This is why it is so important to treat this early. Unfortunately many Pediatricians who are causing this are not even acknowledging the symptoms when they first occur and treatment is being delayed until the parent goes outside the box.

#122 Comment By Ann .J On February 18, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

My son was recently diagnost with mild to moderate autism.
I was recently diagnost with Adult ADHD. I also suffer with depression any anxiety for years.
Along with physical problems. The only thing I know to do is pray. Any advise?

#123 Comment By Denise Dear On February 19, 2013 @ 6:01 am

As a mom of adult (twins) young men on the spectrum, I have nothing but praise for those given this task of raising healthy and productive children. My sons’ are currently two courses away from completing their first college degree, and I just recently enrolled in a Masters program. For the last two years, I worked as an 1.1 and 2.1 Inclusion Aide helping teens with autism and other disabilitiesparticipate in sports and other activities through the Park District. Although, I have never experienced rage or agression at home, it can be frightening when all you want to do is help.

#124 Comment By Pontus On February 20, 2013 @ 10:30 pm

Really? You can’t even to begin to compare what a combat soldier goes through to that of a mother with a autistic child. Imagine spending your entire waking hours with the threat of getting your head blown off by a sniper, getting blown to bits by an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) or IED (improvised explosive device). This article is a joke. Those parents who feel so stressed out by their autistic child should place them in an institution as these children will never be normal.

#125 Comment By Rose On February 21, 2013 @ 11:54 pm

To Pontus:

Wow! I have never been in combat, but I have a 20 year old autistic son. I’m assuming you have been in combat and you don’t have an autistic son. I would never want to trade places with anyone in combat. However, I believe that what the study is saying is that the cumulative effect of the years of stress on moms with disabled children is the same as the effects of the after-effects of being in combat. In addition, I am assuming that most combat veterans volunteer to be in the armed forces. I didn’t volunteer for this; it’s the hand I was dealt. I didn’t go through basic training; I wasn’t psychologically prepared for how drastically and forever my life would change. I didn’t go into this with a “Rah-Rah attitude”. It’s not what I signed up for. My thanks to all those who serve to keep our nation and others safe. My heart goes out to them; but, it goes out to any parent who is given a disabled child.

#126 Comment By Rose On February 21, 2013 @ 11:59 pm

Oh, and even if I wanted to, which I don’t because my son is a joy, those “institutions” to which you refer are few and far between because of budget cuts. I know people who have been on waiting lists for years trying to have their child placed in a group home because they can no longer cope.

#127 Comment By Rurh On February 26, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

For all the young mothers with disabled children. Take care of yourself. This is not a concept we are familiar with. I’m now 47yrs old with many health problems.Two autoimmune, seven surgeries in five years, skin cancer, and fibromyalgia. I was extremely active and continue to on a lower level now but the longevity of my child’s disability has done a number on my physical health. So take time to enjoy things whenever you can. Not having the financial support makes thing even more difficult. Hang in there and surround yourself with positive people.

#128 Comment By Kara On February 26, 2013 @ 10:31 pm


#129 Comment By Angie Williams On February 27, 2013 @ 10:08 am

I have 3 boys all with high functioning ASD. They are 12, 9 and 6. I have been a single mom for a little over two years as my husband of 14 years decidced he didn’t want to be a father or husband anymore. All of their care is my responsibility. There are no Aunts or Uncles or cousins or extended family to provide respite but occasionally my stepmom (who has her own health issues) can watch them for short periods of time or during an emergency. I have been unable to work for 8 years. My oldest was diagnosed when I was pregnant with my 2nd. My 2nd son was diagnosed 4 months before my youngest. At the time I was shocked and overwhelmed. I barely sleep and maybe once or twice a year I get to do something relaxing by myself that is not hurried or on a strict time schedule. I wish I only got a call once every 4 days!!!!!!!! My boys all go to different schools and have different levels of cognitive understanding. There is never enough hours in the day. They are all on medication to reduce their agression and meltdown–which helps tremendously, but not completely. All require speech therapy and occupational therapy. 2 require physical therapy and all need counseling to deal with the abandonment issues of their father disappearing out of their lives. I don’t have a social life and don’t date because I feel it would be unfair to anyone to bring them into our situation as it would be confusing and stressful for the boys. I don’t know about combat, but I know about having to restrain my boys from hurting themselves or others and have watched both my 12 year old and 6 year old being dragged into their respective schools screaming.

People DO NOT UNDERSTAND! Most people don’t even have the compassion to attempt to understand. I did not plan for this. I worked all my life until December 2004 when I had to leave my job due to missing too many days to take care of my 2 young boys at the time. I have 2 BA degrees and 3 minors. I also have some post-bac work. I would love to go back to school to get my Master’s degree, but that is not possible at this time.

I love my boys and they are so loving and protective of each other and their mom. I just don’t know what the future holds for them in this world. It has been 9 years since my oldest was diagnosed and there is still very little information on genetics, or information on where this life crippling neurological disorder comes from or how to prevent it. I have similiar symptoms to PTSD due to the years of sleep deprivation, noise level (one of my boys is a screamer), and frantic schedule of driving all 3 to and from 3 different schools every day. I would not trade my children for anything, but I sure would like to trade the mean, heartless and cruel people who think that ASD kids can control their outburst by yelling at them or hitting them. I would love anyone who thinks that it’s a joke or not real to come and watch my boys for the weekend—I don’t think many people could last a day!

#130 Comment By Jennifer Frank On March 4, 2013 @ 10:28 am

I have heard of this before but I just don’t seem to able to equate my level of stress with that of PTSD or what a soldier goes through. This is basically all I know because my son has been like this from day 1. We have a good days and most of the time, it’s a constant battle trying to get my 13 year old to do what he’s supposed to do: his list of chores in order to earn his computer time or TV time or DS time. The plan is going well ( sort of ) but I just can’t agree with the statement that moms of kids with autism have the same kind of PTSD as a soldier. Sorry. I am a single mom and dad isn’t around or interested in helping out with the new system we have at home so I’m doing most of this stuff on my own. I will admit that at the end of the day, I turn into Bitch-Mom because I am tired from working and then going to the gym or out for a run and then taking care of the kiddos. Having a hubby to help out with that would be great but I’m not sure I can give up any control of my household. Where are the “cabana boys” when you need them? ;-)

#131 Comment By Jennifer Frank On March 4, 2013 @ 10:46 am

Anna Martinez: There is no such thing as tax FREE anything! I have a son with autism and a daughter who does not. I am single AND I WORK! If you are an able bodied woman with both kids in school, you can also work! I get so angry when I see all these women just throw in the towel to get government money, which should NEVER be taken unless you absolutely need it, so they can sit at home all day. If I were to do that, I would go insane. I thank GOD for my job because it’s allowing me to be able to leave the house every day and be with other adults. I am in Texas, too, and I don’t know of any “foster” program that allows you to stay home and get paid for it. And don’t tell me I don’t understand because I DO understand what it’s like to have a child like yours – I have one. It’s one thing if you are destitute and you, yourself, have disabilities of your own, but it’s quite another to rely on the government and MY tax dollars when you are a healthy, strong and relatively young person. Even when I started out being single, I have never been able to get assistance for anything, however, the last thing I ever want to be is dependent on the government to help raise my kids. If you can – and this goes for all of you – GET OUT AND WORK! Not just because it’s better to but because you SHOULD in order to keep you from going stir-crazy in the house all day. It gives you peace of mind that you can have a job, have that adult interaction and to give you the self-worth you need to keep going every single day. I cannot imagine rolling over and letting government provide every little thing just because I have a kid with autism. Keep letting autism run your life and you will never have a life. just my honest opinion….

#132 Comment By Jennifer Frank On March 4, 2013 @ 10:53 am

Pontus – why are you on this board? Do you have a child with autism? I don’t agree with the PTSD thing, either, but how dare you tell us to put our kids in an institution since they will never be “normal”. Can you define normal? Do you realize how many people are not normal in this world? Should we put them in an institution as well? Your advice is severely lacking in a “normal” train of thought. When you work with these kids, it is possible to get them to live semi-independent lives as long as someone can check on them and help with their finances. Thousands of our kids hold jobs, take care of their environments and live a happy existence in their own space not bothering anyone, least of all you. Before you advise others on what to do with their kids, walk a mile in their shoes first. Try to understand what autism is and that these kids are pretty typical on most levels except socializing and comprehension. The only time anyone should be institutionalized is when they become a threat to themselves, their caregivers or society in general and there is no other alternative and if we relied on those things alone for instiutionalization, half of this world would be in one. Do some research. Until then, keep your mouth shut.

#133 Comment By lisa mace On March 7, 2013 @ 11:18 am

what about the fathers too ????

#134 Comment By Ana On March 7, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

What about the autistic people themselves? What kind of stress do you think WE feel?

#135 Comment By Rose On March 16, 2013 @ 1:45 am

@Jennifer Franik, with all due respect, I did not throw in the towel, nor do I receive government assistance. In the area where I live, I have tried, but cannot find a job or if I do, I cannot keep it due to the amount of time I have to take off of work to attend to doctors’ appointments and whatnot. In addition, my son does go to school, but he is off the bus at 2:45 p.m. Do you know anyone who is willing to sit with a 6’2, 230 lb. autistic until I get home? I don’t; I have tried to find someone, but nobody will. My son has aged out of his after-school program. I commend you for being able to work. I wish I could. Even if I could find a job working around my son’s school days, there aren’t too many jobs out there that will let me take his winter break off, or take his spring break off, or the two weeks between the regular school year and the summer session, or the two weeks after the summer session. We won’t even mention the many school holidays when offices are not closed. Let’s not paint everyone with the same brush. We live on my husband’s salary and I have a daughter in college. We could use a second income.

#136 Comment By Sunkiree On March 17, 2013 @ 11:46 pm

Informative article. I agree that parents of children with autissm is really stressful. I think we need to provide the support they require and applaud them to persevere for learning to occur.

#137 Comment By J. Carpinteyro On March 20, 2013 @ 7:49 am

Wow! It’s nice to know that they recognize how us parents of disabilities are stressed out. I’m always curious what others think about me. I have 5 kids both boys on ASD (1 mild & m/s) & a daughter with neuro-cardiogenic syncope. This is exhausting. I was laid off after 10 1/2 years as an accountant. Can’t find a job that is as compassionate as my last company. My almost 18 year old daughter (neuro-cardiogenic syncope) can’t be left by herself & my almost 17 year old son (m/s autism) can’t either. My 10 year old with mild ASD is doing great. He cant be left alone but he still has time to mature. My 12 year old and 19 year old daughters are so very helpful with my other children. I don’t know what I would do without them. My husband of 20 years is very helpful when he knows I need a break. Lol. I believe disablities is stressful on the whole family even those that are with disabilities, too. I enjoy working, it was my respite and helped us financially. I believe the more positive you are, greater things are to come. Good luck to all those affected by ASD & other disabilities. I’m a mom with Moms EmpoweringMoms group. If you are interested in joining us. Please go to Facebook page for more info. :-)

#138 Comment By G Vallis On March 20, 2013 @ 10:56 am

I think it is entirely disruptive for people to judge one another on this board. Autism is difficult for those who have it, and it is difficult for those who care for them. Resources are slim. Everyone pays-parents, the government, and our children. For most autistics and their caretakers, we simply can’t try any harder, and we’re hurting physically and emotionally. Nobody should be forced to give up a child they love to an institution-and many of those we mothers AND fathers love will be functionally children all of their lives. Of all the things that we, as parents, and they, as people with this disorder, need the most, it is just a little compassion from those around us. It is so easy to be cruel, and takes so little time to offer a kindness–a smile or acknowledgement alone can say that you understand that those with autism, and those who care for them, are not outcasts, but people who are worthwhile, and who belong, and who you know struggle. It goes a long way, and that is one that costs so little.

#139 Comment By sdk On March 20, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

Those of us parents with disabled kids suffering from such disorders as TBI, or mental illness have a similar profile to parents of autistic children. This PTSD is not specific to only mothers of children with autism. We have been involved in coping and advocating for our disabled kids before mothers of autistic children came onto the scene. Now they have the same difficulties we have had to experience for years without the “spotlight of autism”. No, the disablities do not dissolve when they get older, it just changes in complexity and duration as well as expense. Welcome to the club!

#140 Comment By leona On March 20, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

i have two disabled adult children and one of my chldren has autism.yes i am very stressed because this world is so unfair and judgemental. i am afraid for my children’s life becuase this country is so barbaric their is no oder and no compassion.no is to be trusted vas far as iam concerned the police,judeges the politicans,doctors. i trust no one because once you put yourself out their you are going to get hurt.i to get some help so i can go on vacation i have not had a vacation since my ywo children were born.i wish there was away i can obtain some extra money or even win a prise so i can get some type of relaxation and me time, i need to get away i feel like iam going to lose my mind i always tired and depressed.

#141 Comment By t keller On April 8, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

siblings of autistics have as much, or more, stress than the parents do.

#142 Comment By Tina Acevedo On April 13, 2013 @ 11:29 am


#143 Comment By angela garia On April 23, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

Yes i agree, a mother with a child with any disability is very hard and stressfull, I am a mother to an 11year old boy who has autism, We have many good moments but there is always worries in the back of my head for the present and the future.

#144 Comment By Bjorn Luminaire On April 23, 2013 @ 10:41 pm

When my longterm partner was diagnosed with ASD it felt like my entire world had been turned upside down. On one hand it was a relief for both of us to finally understand what they’ve been enduring since birth & in another way, my entire relationship with them was immediately plunged into what felt like Twilight Zone. What caused me the most stress was being forced by choice & out of love, to un-learn NT ( I believe I’m on the spectrum also, although undiagnosed) ways to respond to an ASD person’s way of being. I believe the duration of stress we feel is in direct proportion to the length of time it takes us to transition, accept, & begin to integrate methods of communication with our ASD person in a way that’s suitable for them. The real secret is love & resisting assumptions, know eventually the stress does subside & one day you’ll feel as though you’re in open calm waters, finally, there’ll be rough days, even an occasional storm but they’ll not last as long as you once remembered. I just wanted to share this & say I understand, you must know you’re not alone.

#145 Comment By Avril On April 24, 2013 @ 12:00 am

I am a mom of a child with ASD but as hectic as things can get I would never compair it to the stress levels seen in combat. I pearsonally think that is not a fair representation & takes away from what our men & woman do & face. Am I being shot at? Hell no! Is someone trying to kill me? Not a chance. Am I watching ppl I love die all around me? Not even close. I’m back home with my kids safe & sound dealing with each situation that comes my way. But it’s how you deal that matters I guess.

#146 Comment By Clare Dickens On April 24, 2013 @ 9:14 am

I have 2 special needs children,+ have been thinking it would be great to start a respite trade program with other moms, No Money involved, Just trading respite/ Parents that know what you are dealing with and how to deal with issues . I have had no respite in years and I’m sure there are lots of parents like us! I live in Council Bluffs Ia. and have 11 year old and 12 yr. old boys.

#147 Comment By Karen B On April 24, 2013 @ 11:22 am

I have one son who is in combat and another son with severe Autism (non-verbal, violent, incontinent, melt-downs, seizures, on Ketogenic diet, other severe health issues, etc.).

My son in combat has it rough. But he gets leave where he can put his feet up and relax and head to the beach and catch some waves. He’s signed up for 6 years — it was his decision — and when his 6 years are done, he can continue, or he can go on to something else. I can’t.

Parents with autistic kids never get leave. It’s 24/7 every day of the month, every month of the year. There’s no 4 or 6 years of duty, and then you’re done. It goes on for a lifetime. While the combat soldiers are moving on with thier new careers, going on vacation, enjoying retirement, guess what we get to do? We’re still changing diapers, fending off attacks (sometimes in the middle of the night), cooking special meals, washing the bed linens for the 4th time in a week, running our child to the doctor’s office, to the neurologist, the behaviioral specialist, the speech therapist. We’re fighting for meaningful IEPs, fighting for respite, fighting for a spot in a group home while we’re dealing with our own age-related illnesses. Our options even for a simple meal out are limited to places that wil tolerate our son making wierd noises, throwing chairs over, etc.

#148 Comment By Dale On April 25, 2013 @ 2:50 am

This does not surprise me. Imagine how it feels being a parent with autism caring for child with autism. Exhausting!

#149 Comment By Krishnaprasad Acharya On April 25, 2013 @ 3:36 am

One animal on earth suffering from stress and anxiety is man. Why? The simple answer is we are thinking, analyzing and interpreting irrationally. To be a rational thinker is best and simple medicine. It is possible by doing meditation and other relaxation techniques. It needs few minutes in a day, but its result is far better than modern medicines like anti-depression pills and tranquilizers.

#150 Comment By Marilyn On April 27, 2013 @ 10:02 am

Ann, Your life appears to be my own. Our daughter, almost 23, and us are living it too. My health is failing fast. I am afraid I won’t be around to take care of her. She needs me. It’s so frustrating. We live in a tiny town (350) with little to no assistance. No groups. Not one person in our church even take time with her. My heart breaks for her, not me. Praying for miracles for us all.

#151 Comment By Linda On April 27, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

I have a wonderful, sweet, non verbal, low functioning, behavioral son. I love him with all my heart, but it is physically and emotionally exhausting being his caretaker. My son will need lifelong care, and that weighs heavily on me as well. The stress has, like others, taken it’s toll on my body and mind. I would just say to everyone to be kind and patient with each other, particularly if you are part of the special needs community. Human nature will continue to be what it is; most of the folks out there are good people, some even altruistic, a smaller number ignorant and not kind. Stay away from those folks as we need positive energy in our lives. NO ONE can understand your journey unless they walk in your shoes. I try to remember that when I get disapproving glances etc. I just think to myself,”you’ve got no idea what it feels like to clean up fecal smearing day in, day out,and the emotional toll it takes, so go fly a kite.” On a good day, I might try to educate, but I’m not always up to it. I just try to do the best I can with my family. Would be nice if there was a bit more compassion out there though. If only the world was not so judgmental… Stay strong everybody, we’ve got a hard job!

#152 Comment By ecb On May 7, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

I experienced that, because in addition to ASD, my son had ODD. I really did have all those symptoms and challenges, and I am still trying to improve my health and my energy levels, etc.

#153 Comment By LeAnn On May 8, 2013 @ 1:51 am

Not sure this is new news. I read journal articles all the time as a special educator and advocate and this isn’t new news. Any parents if children with disabilities have more stress.

#154 Comment By Donna Obermeyer On May 11, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

Appreciate that this study was completed but all of us moms who have a child, youth or adult with behavior challenges or mental health needs, experience more stress, are more tired and have less time to think about much less participate in leisure activities. Not rocket science. We are mostly isolated and lack sufficient support systems to cope with these challenges. We mostly survive for better or worse, but love our kids fiercely and advocate for them every single day. I have three with a variety of needs, developmental delays, ASD, bi-polar, seizure disorder and ADHD. I wish a happy mother’s day to all the moms who get up every day to do what it takes and experience all the more joy when we see our kids succeed.

#155 Comment By CW Leaver On June 14, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

So tired of these articles. It just encourages parents to behave like victims instead of working on healthy and positive ways to manage life stresses. It also encourages “blame the autistic” mentality, which we need a heck of a lot less of.

#156 Comment By KS On July 8, 2013 @ 7:15 pm

What a tired article. I know my mum deals with a lot of stress having three asd children in an nt world, but thanks for the guilt trip.

#157 Comment By Jodi On July 9, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

I wish this article was made more public. There are many employers who do not understand that special needs parents need flexability. We either have to take part-time jobs that are not in our profession, or take jobs that are below our skill level so that we are not required to work more than 40 hours a week. Which, I would do in a heart beat every time.
It is my opinion that if some employers that can be flexible, you are missing out on some great talent. These parents are more focused, more driven, and know how to cut through the red tape quicker because of how they have to manage their children’s autism. Give them a little, and I believe that most of them will give a whole lot back in return because someone recognizes their value.

#158 Comment By Jodi On July 9, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

To KC and CW. It is not meant as a guilt trip. It is just making a reality known. But I respect your opinion and everyone is entitled to their own.

#159 Comment By George On July 10, 2013 @ 7:44 pm

I can understand. The love of my life has to put up with this. Her 10-year-old son is a great kid but his behavior took its toll on all of us. Few people have been able to help him, and he sees a therapist. I still want to help however I can because they mean so much to me. She sent this to me because I guess she understands. Is there a page on autism (ex?) boyfriends stress? LOL It’d be so highly appreciated!

#160 Comment By shirley shaffer On July 16, 2013 @ 6:32 pm


#161 Comment By Lynn On July 19, 2013 @ 10:35 am

I too have experienced these things. I relate to this study so much. I even have participated in studies for my child where they asked similar questions like this. The two studies were different but they still were looking at the roll of stress on the parents. The studies we too part in were for eye tracking, and for teaching Parent Therapy so parents could better effectively handle stressful meltdowns and behavior. I have to say the studies, and information was good but there is a breakdown for me from what I learned in the classes to now not participating in weekly learning about those things. I think the breakdown comes from busy lives, daily activities, and there being so much information to retain. I hope that programs can be developed to give parents weekly support and reminder of how to handle situations. As a parent its hard, but I am ever so grateful for the help my family has received. I hope that through research insurances can be forced to provide these services. That for my family is a big problem. So often we can’t find locations near by that handle our insurance so we end up having to to travel. I do relate to this and hope further studies can show people moms of autistic children aren’t exaggerating on the stress, and the events of the day. Also that doesn’t mean we don;t appreciate our children, or love them. I dislike it so much when people refer to just needing to love him, and accept him as if we don’t already. Anyways great information.

#162 Comment By Cindy S. On July 24, 2013 @ 8:50 pm

First of all, for Grandma Shirley Shaffer who wrote in below – Autism is NOT caused by stress during pregnancy!
My third child is wonderful! He has high functioning autism (Asperger’s,) congenital heart disease, a cyst in his brain, an extra genetic marker, and with age (now 24) suffers from depression with thoughts of harming himself. My employers were not understanding of him calling me frequently when he was suicidal. I finally had to quit my job so that I could be sure he was safe. Yes, my life is stressful. Sometimes by the end of the day I feel like all of my nerves have been pulled out through my fingernails. I now see a psychiatrist who verifies that I have PTSD. I must say that he has brought us so much love and joy, all is worthwhile! So there you have it, another statistic for your study.

#163 Comment By Gail Reilly On July 30, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

The stress I experience is enormous and overwhelming, partly because it is isolating. I would like to see broader dissemination of this and similar studies because few people grasp or understand what the mothers of children w autism experience and endure. It is not a case of blaming the person who is autistic; there is simply a need for more awareness of the unconventional demands that raising a cild with autism requires. With that, more support may follow.P

#164 Comment By Lisa On August 2, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

OMG…..I thought I was loosing my mind. I have experienced all of these things and I am trying to take care of myself one day at a time along with everything else. I just pray everyday and try to get as much rest as I can when my son takes a nap. The house looks a mess but I cannot do everything!!!! I have some good days and some bad but I would not trade my son for the WORLD!!!! Be Blessed!!!

#165 Comment By Carol On August 9, 2013 @ 9:54 pm

At last, “official” validation. I have a stepson with mild autism. He’s a young adult now. I’ve been his primary caregiver since he was seven. His mother ended her marriage when he was six, saying she wanted some joy in her life. At first he spent half his time with her, but he’d come over to my place unwashed, without having done his music practice or homework. I looked after that, plus teaching him life skills, basic social behaviors, reading and writing, and so on. He ended up living at my home full-time. It’s been incredibly time-consuming and stressful, as much as I love him. Reliable sources have said my stepson’s mother undermines me. Certainly, when my stepson is at his most difficult he sounds as if he’s quoting her. It’s time we mothers of teens and young adults with autism got some recognition and maybe a little slack and compassion.

#166 Comment By Jonathan On August 10, 2013 @ 11:47 am

I am a single full time Father to my son who is on the autism spectrum. I am also a combat veteran with 3 tours in Iraq/Afghanistan. You can in NO WAY at all compare the stress of PTSD with the stress of being a parent with a child on the spectrum. 22 veterans a day commit suicide living with the horrors of war. My sons disability is a blessing for me, if he wasn’t the way he is, I might have thought his mom would have been able to handle the responsibilities/stress of being a single parent, and without my son, if I didn’t end up in prison or dead, I could have been one of those 22 a day…

#167 Comment By Jim Kraus On August 22, 2013 @ 7:52 am

Hello – what about Dads? I never hear about how fathers ALSO spend significant time as primary caregivers, while they work to support an entire family financially, emotionally and otherwise.

#168 Comment By Athena Blakely On August 26, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

I am glad that there is now a research study telling the world what we moms of kids on the spectrum already knew and have been saying for years. I know for a fact that I have been saying this very same thing for at least 10 years. Add to the reality that many of these same moms could very likely be diagnosed as being on the spectrum themselves or at the very least have the Broad Autism Phenotype as exhibited by certain behaviors that are very similar to actual Autism which might suggest that they carry the genetic precursor mutations that helped create the Autism in their child and you have a really stressed out nut job on your hands. I know because I was one of them! With the proper support we can regain our sanity and actually become much better people in the long run. However, because we often behave in inappropriate ways in defense of our children while under this higher level of duress we are always considered to be nut jobs. The other dark reality is that often mothers of children on the spectrum kill themselves or the children or both. YES families of Autistic people need more support. However, the biggest thing that all Autistic people and their families need is for that person to be able to function more independently and for society to not ostracize the person or the family because of their differences. I have spent most of my time trying to change society rather than my child. My child is an Autistic Person. I have accepted that. Some parents contribute to their own stress by trying to make the child fit into society. That is impossible. What needs to happen is that society needs to accept the child (future adult) just the way they are and help them to develop their strengths and minimize their weaknesses just like we do with all “normal” children. If a child is more musical than athletic you don’t try to force them to become a football star, you buy them an instrument and enroll them in band class at school. Why then would you try to force a child that doesn’t speak to talk rather than give them ASL as an alternative form of communication? Why would you expect a person that develops migraines from the constant flicker of fluorescent lights that is out of your visual range to perceive to sit quietly in a classroom where there are huge rod fluorescent lights while they are experiencing a migraine from the lights? Lack of knowledge of what the Autistic person is experiencing, unwillingness to listen to those of us that are higher functioning in our communication skills, a divide between parents of kids on the spectrum and adults on the spectrum, and general prejudice has created a very hostile environment within the Autism Community.

As an Autistic Adult I say to my peers PLEASE stop being so hateful to these parents that just love their child so very much that they are really not processing the reality that their will one day join our ranks as Autistic Adults. Be patient with them. Share your experiences in as gentle a manner as possible.

As a mom of children and grandchildren that are on the Spectrum I am begging you to please stop acting like you are all alone. there are many of us that wear the hat of being on the spectrum and a parent of a child on the spectrum that really can help you if you are willing to listen to us.

As a Proud Autistic Mom Of Autistic Kids I am asking the rest of Society to seriously evaluate what is really more important. Many of the “Social Skills” that Autistic people cannot seem to master are far less important than their skill set in other areas. It saddens me to know that my father, a man that worked for IBM for most of his career could not get hired there today. I am glad that he did not live to see the day come when social skills are more important than real skills. I am glad he did not live to see the day when his techie grandson will not be a person that IBM would even interview let alone actually hire. At 12 years old that child knows more about computers than some of IBM’s current employees but he barely speaks and when he does he sounds like a child that has English as his second language. His adjectives often follow the noun that is being described. His subjects and his verbs do not always agree in number, tense, or person. He is very reserved. He is my father all over again. My father worked to overcome his speech issues but the reserved nature, preference to be left alone, and his dislike of being touched are all there. My father’s intense intelligence is also present and just like in my father it is not seen until you work closely with my son on a regular basis for a very long time.

Yes we mothers of Autistic Children are more stressed out and the fault lies not with our children or even the lack of services such as respite. Our worries are far more long term than that when you dig deep enough. We struggle with our own mortality and the realization that when we die we will be leaving our child in the hands of a monstrous society that will likely inflict intense emotional and physical pain on our defenseless child. Our children are defenseless but not helpless. they lack the capacity to advocate for themselves in most situations. We as parents want to make it all better. the reality is that we can’t fix them so we need to be joining with the Adult Autistic community that can speak out in so many ways so that we create a more accepting society for our children and grandchildren.

#169 Comment By Lisa Hernandez On August 30, 2013 @ 11:33 am

I have 4 children in my home with special needs. One 17 she has Bipolar Disorder & Borderline Personality Disorder. A 7 yr old she has ADHD & a Developmental Delay, and Twin 4 yr old girls who are diagnosed with pervasive developmental delay and one has touretts syndrome. Between all the different dr appts, therapists, case managers, behavior problems, there are days it takes all I have to get out of bed in the morning. I love them with all my heart. I just wish I could get it together to have the energy I need to keep up with them and my 2 yr old son on top of it all.

#170 Comment By Marjorie On September 1, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

I met a family recently wit a teen girl with Autism. For whatever reason I immediately clicked with this young lady. I am a mother for a grown daughter and have time now that I am an empty nester and would love to help this family but dont want to sound like I am a freak or I pity them, I just want to help and don’t know if or how to approach the mom. Our husbands work for the same company but are not particularly close. Completely different areas at work at large company. Thanks for any advice you can give.

#171 Comment By Sean MacNair On September 7, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

AUTISM DADS FEEL THE STRESS TOO. I have to write it in all caps because no one seems to be getting the message.

#172 Comment By Jane On September 12, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

Excellent article although it perhaps states the obvious. I have a son with autism who is 24. My life has had added stress since testing began when he was 2 years old. Traveling to another city for a second opinion; endless hopes and dreams lost. And the professionals who should have been my support were often the opposite. His worst year was his 8th grade. We had a school system that just wanted to be rid of him and was the opposite of helpful. A hospital social worker who accused me of just wanting a free babysitter. A teacher who I believe from the bottom of my heart abused him but we couldn’t prove it. And a child who could fly into violent acts toward his family without cause or warning! I never knew what was coming next. And I had to remain in charge and calm and hold down a job! And I had two typical younger sons to care for. There were no resources to help me. Some friends and family that never experienced such a thing were supportive but just as many were judgemental. It’s a miracle we all survived. Of course I probably have PTSD. Who wouldn’t? To those following in my foot steps with younger children please believe it gets better. But it never goes away. I wake in the middle of the night worrying about my son’s future. All the moms in my boat that I know tell me the same thing. We worry for good reason. There are still precious few resources, there are still supposedly helping people who could abuse our children, there are still ignorant people judging us. But in the end we do what we have to do because mothers love their children and like the mother bear we’ll do whatever it takes. That’s not a negative to dads. Most are good guys who also are doing the best they can. My husband is. But the maternal instinct really makes us shoulder the burden night and day without rest. And how can that not take it’s toll? Thanks for noticing!

#173 Comment By Juliet Tylor On September 14, 2013 @ 4:19 am

@ Marjorie – just ask them! Otherwise just come on over to my place!
Athena raises a good point about how many of us parents are also on the As and as such have extremely loud and overwhelming emotions – not surprising are stress levels are through the roof.
Gail, you also raise an important point – social isolation is very real and also has a very negative impact on mental health.
We get no support. We exist. The whole experience has been physically, emotionally, mentally, socially and economically devastating. I have keeled over twice. Next time I don’t think I’ll be able to get up again. All this was totally unnecessary and could of easily have been avoided with some additional support. And yes, I am angry at the fact that none has been forthcoming.

#174 Comment By gail roberts On September 21, 2013 @ 7:41 am

Autism Moms? just autism Moms? what about Moms of all the other children with disabilities? ESPECIALLY ( and thankfully not me) the Muscular dystrophy moms! The mom’s of quads(me), the Moms of paras, the Mo’ms of young Schizophrenics, the Mom’s of CP’s and countless other conditions that have been with us. I know this condition well. It’s PTSD without the P the trauma is either ongoing or you’re awaiting the next hit (unconciously). Your study unlocks the door on this issue , but doesn’t even begin to turn the handle on looking at how big it is. Compare Moms of non-disabled with Moms of mixed disabled then tease out the differences in the subgroups with further studies. GREAT start though.

#175 Comment By Daniel Nordeen On September 21, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

No Mention of us single/married Dads of an autistic child(s) that have to work fulltime, pay for everything, be the mommy&daddy and have no support from most state DDD’s or in my case no family, relatives or even my ex. I moved from WA (no DDD support) to AZ and now receive DDD services like Respite, Hab, DTS/DTT and ABA/Speech therapy. After 5 years with no help from a wealth distribution state like WA he now qualifies for help due to his income and disability not my ability to support our basic needs. Try having full time autism care giving for 5 years without a night or day off or vacation. Tell me if you do not get stressed. Anyway too much emphasis on only mommy and not the actual responsible parent/grandparent. Men are being abused (33%) and neglected in this progressive society that demeans and devalues men. Time to take back our manhood.

#176 Comment By brads mom On September 24, 2013 @ 12:10 am

A lot if these comments seem to be missing the point of this article . The study showing that mothers of children with ASD have similar stress complications as combat veterans is very alarming, and shows in itself there is NOT enough support for these strong parents. First hand I know its never easy but its always worth it becuz my son is perfect in my eyes.

#177 Comment By Stuart Renshaw On September 29, 2013 @ 4:16 am

Does this not discriminate against all the dads out there who have to deal with an autistic child or young person
They suffer justvas much stress as the mothers if not more because they are trying to hold down a job as well as support there loved ones 54955344

#178 Comment By Olive On October 6, 2013 @ 9:36 am

I guess everyone can say this is so obvious, but to people who don’t live it everyday it is not. I am glad this article was written. I feel like sending it to all of my family members who have not believed me or supported me in this journey. And thank God for a very supportive husband or I may not have made it this far.

#179 Comment By Fran On October 8, 2013 @ 11:48 pm

I think this was a well written article, and important to note the research was measuring stress hormone..it shouldn’t be misconstrued that the mothers were complaining. The point of the research is important for understanding the impact and differences parents of special needs children experience compared to parents of neurotypical children.

#180 Comment By Teresa Roberts On October 22, 2013 @ 7:32 am

My son spends two days a week with his Father. That means two days off for me, no. I’m following up with the state Medicaid office. Doing laundry, cleaning the house, prescription refills, going over school work, teacher’s notes. Like many other moms. I sleep a bit better, knowing he will not wake me up, or I have to double check the door, in the event he tries to open them. We are always on. My son is high functioning, too. I also work outside the home. That is easier. Except for people who are so bored in their own lives, they cause chaos. Pay it forward. I do.

#181 Comment By Kathy Bever On October 24, 2013 @ 11:29 am

Our autistic little one is only 3 1/2 but I can tell you, there are MANY days that I too feel like I’ve been in a war zone. Worth every minute of it but I don’t think it’s just with teens and adults. Of course, ours hasn’t gotten to that age yet so I may change my mind as she ages. But for now, I feel as though we live that every day too. HIGH Stress!!

#182 Comment By L.O. On November 16, 2013 @ 9:26 am

Single Mom of a 10 year old beautiful girl, the love of my life, divorced when daughter was 4. Absolutely agree with all of this and yes it should be made public more often. Add to it when you have to deal with even more stress from a non cooperative, verbal and emotional abuser, conflict seeking ex and all his family. It does feel sometimes as I’m fighting the world alone to make sure my daughter has a safe, happy and fulfilling life.

#183 Comment By Jay On November 20, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

I’d like to see this study done on special education teachers who work with students on the spectrum, or with any students whose disabilities cause significant behavior issues, versus general educators. I would not begin to imagine that I experience the stress of these parents, but 6 hours a day – 5 days a week…
I know I experience many of the same symptoms described here.

#184 Comment By mel On November 22, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

I agree with what is being said, but we all know this. My son has autism and is deaf. His dad, myself and my 17 year old daughter all “suffer” with the stress that goes with my son, mostly caused by other people trying to “help” us. But we all go to school and work and I think our attitude to life is far more positive than most people with children who have less or no issues.

#185 Comment By Tracy On December 5, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

Wow. I have been reading the comments and I am shocked at all the people who are complaining about being left out of the article. This is not a “feel more sorry for me” topic. It is just put out there to open peoples eyes about what we as parents go through and the stress it involves and how it effects us. Some of us have it harder and some of us have it easier, but the basic idea is there. We all just experience it differently because of our own emotional make up. However, we who have to deal with the behavioral issues, mine is 21 years and still going STRONG, should be relieved to know someone has finally taken notice of this issue. One more thing, we all love our children, right? So why do some of you have to state that to make sure everyone knows? Is there guilt involved in the back of your mind because maybe you don’t like your child sometimes? Especially when they are beating you up because the behavior has come on and cannot be controled. This is why we have the stress and this is why we read these articles.

#186 Comment By Lori Pollard On December 10, 2013 @ 8:10 am

I was assessed earlier this year and told this. In fact, they said I was at risk for ptsd. The only thing I have found to counteract the stress levels is to blog about the wonderful experiences and to support families just starting the autism journey (my kids are 23, 20 and 16, so I’ve been doing this for a while). I also find that work (I’m a respite provider/aba therapist) provides a lot of stress relief as well, so it was a catch 22 that when my son was in crisis, and therefore my stress levels through the roof, I was unable to work or get respite because of his needs. There is an appalling lack of services for adults with autism, and even less support for the families. I fought years ago for what now is the Toronto Preschool Autism Services, at a time when they still believed Autism was caused by a mom not loving her child enough. I had thought the fights were over, but it looks as if services for adults, and with that of course services for seniors, with autism are the new path to pave.

#187 Comment By Gail Cammero Reilly On December 10, 2013 @ 5:33 pm

I sighed and said to myself “FINALLY!” – someone outside of those with a child with a disability gets it! I felt as though it would benefit family and friends, too. For instance, I think it is hard for people to understand why the parent with a child on the spectrum has limited time for other commitments. As a parent, I think it’s hard to share those feelings without feeling it sounds like a parent complaining about ordinary challenges of parenting. Children on the spectrum do not have one/same personality -they are individuals with distinct personalities. And, for example, sharing the details of what happens when a child on the spectrum has a “meltdown ” scares some people off. A relative told me that I must be more “tolerant” – not true. I’ve adapted out of necessity. This study would benefit more parents with children on the spectrum with broader dissemination. It’s not a secret.

#188 Comment By Esays On December 10, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

This is true and you learn to deal with it. When you figure that G-d wouldn’t send you anything you couldn’t handle, you feel better about the journey. With all the pitfalls, there is still hope and when you see a glimmer, it REALLY SHINES.

#189 Comment By TracyDee On January 6, 2014 @ 1:26 pm

It says the moms were low in hormone? which hormone were they low in ?

#190 Comment By HaJoLa On January 12, 2014 @ 1:19 pm

Similar? have any of you who claim knowledge of such ever been in or experienced combat? Looked another human being in the eye, up close and personal before being shot, beaten upon, hand to hand for your life and then managed to kill that enemy and watched the life ebb out of them, or shot them and seen their face explode or braind come out? And you say someone has a similar issue with stress from dealing with a disabled child? No disrespect meant to anyone with a disabled child or adult meant. I have lived in both worlds, one for 23 years in the military and the other for 27 years as the parent of person with developmental (mental) disabilities. Neither is comparable to the other. If I had a choice, neither would be preferable! But I made a commitment in both and stood by both but am tired, real tired and advanced age now is becoming a threat to one of those commitments. Combat is certainly something I would never wish on anyone, been there and done that and the aspect of the glory in that service is way over rated. Nothing glorious about crapping in your drawers from fear, seeing your best friends brains laying on the ground or your buddy blown in half, taking someones life or having the hell beat out of you. Sometimes life has ways of making you wish you were dead, but reality sets in and wakes you up with the knowledge somene else depends on you staying alive!

#191 Comment By cheryl On January 21, 2014 @ 7:15 pm

Sorry but I can not feel sorry for the moms of kids with autism. I feel sorry for the kids that are the ones actually living with the disability.

#192 Comment By Deb On February 1, 2014 @ 7:56 pm

I’m sorry, but to say that a parent of an autistic child goes through the same thing as that of a combat soldier is OUTLANDISH and ABSURD!!! I know that it is difficult to raise a child with autism (my brother-in-law is autistic and has FAS). However, the mention of a combat soldier is only to draw attention to this article in my opinion. A child is meant to be loved and cared for. You take the good with bad. You deal with the daily struggles and do your best. A soldier sees things and does things he or she cannot talk about in the name of the greater good to preserve our freedoms. They come back as shells of who they used to be and struggle internally in their minds with who they are. The autistic children are the ones who deal with such issues. Yes, it is hard and stressful for a parent to raise a child with autism, but there should never be a comparison to a combat soldier!!!

#193 Comment By lynn schwabe On February 5, 2014 @ 9:19 am

I feel validated reading this article. I wouldn’t change my life for anyone’s but people don’t get what busy means. Im in a constant state of “checking, changing her mood”. Everything can throw her off and im always having to fix her mood. My life is a constant setting her stage for the best possible outcome. Exhausting! I cry once a week to relieve stress. I find myself getting more isolated. I do have a wonderful daughter who makes my heart sing. Her pain is mine.

#194 Comment By Teresa Daniel On February 19, 2014 @ 1:51 am

I wish my sons dad would get involved. I don’t understand A

You are a good Dad and to be respected. I am alone with my son. What I want to know is my son by him-self when I say he has a bad temper? He was born that way. And has seizures like me. And he is very small. He went to his dads this weekend because he got upset about something and started hitting me. I will never turn my back on him and I love him more than myself. But are these some of the side effects? I am talking to Dr.s, counselors , does anybody have any advice so far?

#195 Comment By Jenny On March 4, 2014 @ 11:44 am

You left out a very important variable – the “mothers” of children with autism, typically suffer from Munchhausen by Proxy, and are just looking for more ways to call attention to themselves and their kids. You are feeding their needs with this article.

Oh, and please, quit whining, and suck it up. Life is tough for ALL of us.

#196 Comment By Doug On March 6, 2014 @ 1:42 am

What about us fathers that are the primary caregiver? Some of us fathers have taken on the roles of mom and dad and I don’t see any information about those stress levels. What about the fathers that have had to become stay at home fathers for our child?

#197 Comment By ann On March 6, 2014 @ 12:21 pm

Was laughing at at post about seeing someone in camouflage…run into them just to let them know it’s working. Well, so, it occurs to me that this IS our daily game.My nine year old daughter/autistic goes through the experience, and then we go through it together. And it’s a similar experience with my other daughter who is not non-verbal. She continues to laugh with me through all the problems here and there, telling me, “You know Mom, I Always have to learn the hard way.”

#198 Comment By Tammy in kansas On March 10, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

My life and home is hello 13 year old autistic son with odd, ocd, adhd, bipolar severe with psychosis , tourettes. This article states the obvious what we need is more help, less pity, and less excuses. What’s worse is how all in the family suffer, namely my younger children, they regress, have anxiety issues.

#199 Comment By Angela On March 22, 2014 @ 11:15 am

It is a basic fact. The problem with families coping with ASD is that support is hard to find. Autism is individualized not fitting into a box. That’s the point of the spectrum. I’ve gone for years trying to defend my children and our lifestyle to family and those that don’t understand. My oldest has aspergers and middle child has ODD/ADHD

#200 Comment By Amber Robinson On March 27, 2014 @ 12:40 pm

This sheds some light on how I have been feeling. The School system has failed my son and I am now hoe schooling him, and caring for my 3 other children and doing volunteer work. I feel brain dead by evening, and exhausted. I have begun to realize that I have to pull back from volunteer work to be able to focus more on my son’s education. At least now I know I’m not broken, just “busy”.

#201 Comment By Jackie On March 27, 2014 @ 7:52 pm

So, what are the long term physiological effects of combat soldiers, and more importantly, what works for them to lessen the negative effects of long term chronic stress?

Based on my personal experience, the changes in blood glucose levels could merely be from the need to have instant energy, and reaching for sugary stuff becomes more instinctive than rational. Seriously, count how many bakeries and donut shops there are in our neighborhoods and notice that they can even be more affordable, in terms of money and time, than maintaining healthy eating habits. You have to eat the daily recommended amount of fruits and veggies to keep up with the quick energy you get from refined sugars. Consciously cutting back on refined sugars should help our blood glucose regulation.

Immunological and mental functions… what works for the combat soldiers?
This type of study may help both combat soldiers and mamas (parents) of children with special needs. Please keep us informed.

#202 Comment By Letricia On March 28, 2014 @ 2:20 pm

Its a different life…

#203 Comment By Mike grigg On April 7, 2014 @ 9:24 pm

Before Autism was was really know about and as aboy I walked my sister to school she has many behaviours like my son my sister bernadettee who died when she was 13 behaviours were much the same as david , my mother she suffered alot stress and even use to self abuse us and he self .
One the differculties we had we did have the information about Autism whe had information about about Epilepsy and my mother mainstreamed with out a understanding of discrimination . As I grew up my son had epilepsy but not the understanding of autism . As I grew older I learnt about Autism and develop strategies but then in the mainstreams friends made it worse as they did understand autism I have diabetes and Arthrrsis in my neck because my hear been pulled but one the worst stress is people do not believe you about melts or understand about inclusion some autistic people are vulnerable and when you advocate for you child you not believed by other memebers of the community and that creates a lot hurt a lot . In fact no one really under stand we grevie a lot as parents
Im from new zealand really but i want to participate so I put albama i love go to new york

#204 Comment By Kate On April 8, 2014 @ 9:15 pm

Can someone please give this article to my boss?

#205 Comment By Autim Mom On April 12, 2014 @ 11:42 am

It’s not just the moms… the Dad’s are affected as well.

#206 Comment By Chris On April 20, 2014 @ 8:40 pm

I was fortunate not to have to be the main breadwinner and to have an extremely supportive and inclusive extended family; but still only held one job successfully, due largely to having a boss who was cooperative and allowed flex time because she was the legal guardian of a brother who had Downs and really “got” it. It gave me self confidence and hope and self esteem but was not replicated anywhere since ; so the stress and guilt of having be off or distracted from employment tasks to do medical appointments and transportation and scheduling and diet just takes a toll on your own health and mental functioning…

#207 Comment By Leigh On April 27, 2014 @ 2:07 am

To all of you combat veterans….this article is not suggesting that living with autism is at all a similar experience to watching your best friend get shot and die in your arms. It is suggesting the stress levels are similar. Again NOT the experience, the stress level….that is something that is measurable….as the article said “They found that a hormone associated with stress was extremely low, consistent with people experiencing chronic stress such as soldiers in combat”

They could have easily said SUCH AS police officers, or firefighters….then those folks would have been here saying ‘no way’

Maybe they would have been better to say we suffer from battle fatigue…which comes from a constant high level of stress.

I have two profoundly autistic children, who are adults now, but the stress level has been constant for 25 years…from constantly being on alert for a 2 year old who would be gone in the blink of an eye, and could run like the wind….straight into traffic, to a 20 year old who might reach for a woman’s breast just because it looked fascinating. That’s certainly not watching your buddy get his brains blown out, but the constant, unrelenting stress level can be equally high. We may not commit suicide, but look at the divorce rate amongst parents of special needs kids, and when it comes down to it, some folks just handle stress better than others.

I don’t think anyone, including the author of the article, is trying to negate your combat experience, they’re just trying to give an example of when stress levels have been tested, parents of young adults with autism and behavior problems, and combat soldiers show test results at the same level That’s science, not a test of who’s had the most traumatic experience.

#208 Comment By Juli Chandler On April 29, 2014 @ 10:42 pm

The Article you post about Moms of Autistic children having the same stress as Combat Veterans!!! Please send the People who did this Research over to Iraq & Afghanistan on the Front Lines & let them be there for about 1 month & lets Truly see how the 2 compare then!!! Whoever wrote this article Must be on some Crazy kind of Medications!!! They do not know anything about the Life of a Combat Veteran!!!

#209 Comment By tiredmama On May 16, 2014 @ 5:53 pm

@Amber Robinson I think the article and research is trying to explain the stress mom and what it is like raising a child with autism. We don’t get leave, time-off, vacation, PTO, so the stress is much different.

#210 Comment By Kerri On June 13, 2014 @ 11:51 am

It makes me extremely angry to here the post of the person who “downs” the author of this article, simply comparing and relating the stress levels of parents with children of autism to combat families. That person NEEDS AND MUST get a grip!! I can guarantee and bet my life that this person has no children on the autism spectrum, let alone one that is severely autistic since being diagnosed at the early age of 2 yrs such as my dear boy. He is now 3.5 yrs; cannot speak a single work, cannot communicate in any way, no motor or fine motor skills whatsoever, gets fed everymeal consisting ONLY of puréed baby food, due to severe texture and sensory issues, abnormal sleeping patterns, etc. This disorder does not only affect my 3 yr old, it affects my 9 yr

#211 Comment By Lisa On June 13, 2014 @ 7:13 pm

Yes, and in the case of Aspergers – on the spectrum, the developmental delay (and it’s symptoms) are highly genetic, which means she may be married to an adult version of the child, which can impact her ability to think straight. Her husband may be “functional” at he work place, but is many times exacting, demanding, highly agitated over most anything, unavailable to co-parent, and is unable to help with household tasks… so she is running a behaviorally disturbed home for husband and children. Just say’n.

#212 Comment By Lisa On June 13, 2014 @ 7:20 pm

In addition, we have to say out loud here that the reason a writer would compare combat soldiers stress to stress of a Mom of an Autistic child is because our society so minimizes real stress that is not war. It’s an attempt to connect the dots between high levels of demand, stress and lack of sleep to what our society considers legit PTSD – that belonging to war survivors only. Such a bunch of bunk. I’m a PTSD therapist. Big T TRAUMA and little t trauma can have identical symptoms, and shut ones chance at living life down in the very same way. It’s about validating mothers of autistic kids, not minimizing soldiers, I imagine.

#213 Comment By Anne On June 18, 2014 @ 1:38 pm

Anyone who has been the primary caregiver of someone on the Autism Spectrum knows they are stressed by daily childcare activities beyond what most parents experience. Add to that the disruption of work, sleep, family and outside relationships, and the lack of down-time, understanding by others, and ability to access meaningful assistance from schools, medical providers, etc., there is no doubt that a toll is taken on the body, mind and spirit of the primary caregiver as well as other family members. The general population needs understands that with every 8 to 10 children (depending on the study) diagnosed as being on the Autism spectrum, this is a condition that will have long-term effects on everything from education to the economy over the next several decades. My question is: This article was written in 2009. Why is it, that 4 1/2 years later, it is still being debated?

#214 Comment By Suzanne On June 21, 2014 @ 6:38 pm

Am I the only mom that loves autism ? I love that my son sees the world in a different way and I get to experience it with him. I wouldn’t trade his quirky and unique personality for all the gold in casterly rock. Every day I learn something from him or one of his classmates in his autism centered special needs class. And before someone starts the “my kid is more autistic than your kid” pity contest, My son is in the very high classification with classic autism — not spectrum disorder, but what the DSM IV considered autism twenty years ago—and we always say that we aren’t suffering from autism , we’re having a great time with autism. I think everyone can agree that parenting a special needs child is sometimes very hard, but so is parenting an average child . Maybe we should all stop focusing on the “suffering” with the hard part and start giving thanks for all the great parts. I truly feel blessed to be on the wonderful journey with my son and I would NEVER let someone say that the “burden” of caring for him is like going to war and shooting men, women, and children before they shot me.

#215 Comment By Sharon On June 28, 2014 @ 11:51 pm

I would assume that your study you did asked a number of controlled questions that gave you the answers you were looking for. Are mothers of children with autism tired? Stressed out, unable to handle it all? You bet!
Those of us with an adult child with severe behavioral issues drain us mentally and physically everyday . There is not enough help. I personally have more help than a lot of people, and I am still physically and emotionally drained daily. I also have a child that is extremely difficult.
Going to war, combat ….it may be similar in many ways.
Most of us moms have not be to war, but some of us imagine this is what it is like sometimes.
Please let us know the results of how you can help us handle the long term stress.

#216 Comment By Ted On July 1, 2014 @ 7:37 pm

I’m a single dad with 1 child with ASD and 2 others with out. Been on our own for 5+ years. I was actually looking for data of fathers and there is none apparently. You have my email address and I’d appreciate it if you’d point me towards what I’m looking for… If it exist. If not, wow am I that rare?

#217 Comment By Toni-Anne Carullli On July 15, 2014 @ 7:50 pm

Being a Mom of a 20 year old Autistic Son, who has had to deal with The Board of Education semi annual, and annual meetings, Department of Transportation for Bussing to school, Phycologists, phycologists, psychiatrist, neurologist, medications and Primary Doctors, Social Security, Having to obtain Guardianship, Setting up after school care, Agency’s, Medicaid, Medicaid Waiver, Now looking into Day Hab, Work Programs and Residential Housing all of this with no help while trying to juggle my job which has been a major challenge due to days that I need to take off . It is a wonder I haven’t gone off the deep end yet!! Key word is YET!!!! Although I do remember having some small nervous breakdowns along the way. I would agree this is much like Stress similar to combat, not one agency makes this easy requesting the same documentation over and over and over. As if he is going to wake up tomorrow and not be Autistic anymore!!! If a parent has an Autistic Child they (the parent) should also be considered disabled !!! Can someone also please show this to my boss!!!!!

#218 Comment By Cherri D On July 16, 2014 @ 2:49 pm

I have a 26 yo son w autism. Low functioning but very verbal and very aggressive!! When he lived at home I was on constant guard. Sometimes he would attack me and I would fear for my life. I never slept a whole night in 24 years. He is now living in a nice group home nearby and comes home one day a week. On those visits that I see the behavior start my body reacts. And I can feel the adrenalin rise.
Yes a healthy diet and especially some regular exercise does help. But many ppl w autistic children don’t have the time, childcare, or money. I’ve lived it.
And I can see where those of you who have been in combat can be upset. But these findings are based on hormone/chemical levels. And fyi PTSD is not just for soldiers.

#219 Comment By jennifer aaron On July 17, 2014 @ 11:36 am

I agree with this article. I am one of those mothers that is seeking help. Especially in the summer. i am currently a stay home mother and will be looking for work. This season i checked for summer camps that work with SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN. I could only find camps that were high in pricing or did not have ample service for the spectrum so i could not find help….. We need more services to train and assist special needs kids.

I do go to support meetings but we would love to have meetings where we can bring our children and they have a play area and space where the would be safe. For now we do the best we can in managing our time, parenting and fitting in sleep when all possible.

jenn AARON

#220 Comment By Leticia On July 29, 2014 @ 4:34 pm

A very good friend of mine who embarked on this journey 38yrs ago told me a year ago that she heard Dr. Oz make mention of the same comparison between parents of children with autism and soldiers in combat. It was only then the proverbial light bulb went on as to why I was exhausted all the time!. As I am typing this email I am sitting in an apartment in Warsaw, Poland yes Poland for neurosensory integration therapy for my high functioning ASD daughter who is 6yrs. I personally don’t get why a soldier would get bent out of shape about this study. What exactly does it take from them? NOTHING! The things that we deal with are enormous and until I had a child on the spectrum I was completely clueless about autism and all that it entails. Some of us are doing this alone without the help of largely fathers and at times mothers whiles working full time. It is amazing that we have not all lost our minds. For the parent who said for someone else to show this to her boss I say advocate for yourself the same way you advocate for your child; FMLA.

#221 Comment By Lindsay On July 29, 2014 @ 11:12 pm

The title of this article is very unfortunate and while I’m sure the author has enjoy the sensationalism it has brought them, they really should have chose differently as it is very tasteless. A woman living in America with an autistic child has NOTHING is common with a combat soldier. But hey, it worked! I sure as hell would never had read this article if I hadn’t been so offended.

#222 Comment By singlemomof2 On July 31, 2014 @ 11:38 pm

Being exploited at work making about 22k doing of job of 3 people. Dealing with SSI income limits and elimination of temporary up and downs of taking away disability benefits for my child. Yeah getting home from work to repair what my son has broken in material things plus dealing constantly with court fights regarding child support. Laying down in bed thinking how I am going to make it with out ssi? For food? And feeling that my head is going to exploit like a granite every night. Of yeah I feel like a soldier…in constant combat to survive what society don’t understand…

#223 Comment By Grace On August 5, 2014 @ 8:43 pm

I’m so glad for this study. I wished I had more flexibility at my job like working from home or time off. I’m so stressed and feel sick a lot of the time. Thinking about my child’s needs and fighting the school district or Regional Centers is a full time job. Family Medical Leave Act is not enough. I need to take time off for myself and my child. FMLA provides for 12 weeks if time off per year. But employers make it so difficult to take with threats of firing you that it’s just not worth it. There needs to be more protections for parents and caregivers of individuals with a disability.

#224 Comment By Lynda On August 16, 2014 @ 8:27 pm

I am the mother of a 33yr old autistic son. I also have two other grown sons. My autistic son lives with me and his Father who other than financially supporting us dumped all the child raising on me. My son is high functioning and has had several jobs, but lost them do to no fault on his part. He worked at a Sears Hardware store for 8yrs until it closed due to the failing economy. That was 4yrs ago. Since then he has been home with me. I have him in a few activities but he has no structure to his life. Have worked with the DVR to find him employment but one year since they (DVR) hired someone at an agency to find him work nothing! He can be such a good young man but if I cross him in some way he attacks me. This happens on a daily basis. He terrorizes me for hours. He hasn’t hit me but pushes me or blocks me from getting away from him. The names he calls me and the threats he makes to me are totally disgusting. I wish he would kill me that is the only way I will be free. My heart goes out to him because he has this horrible disorder. I have dedicated my life to taking care of his needs. My husband doesn’t do a thing to help me or stop him during a meltdown. I have no one to help me. Right now I am in a terrible depression. I pray every night I do not wake up the next morning. I just wonder how many mothers are going through this. I know I can’t be the only one. I don’t think anyone can understand what a soldier feels during a battle. I do know it changes them. No one can understand what this has done to me and my family. There is no me anymore. I hope someday they find a cure for Autism. I just hope I can stay strong and not do what I think about doing everyday. I am not sure anymore if I believe in God, but how much worse could Hell be, I think I am already there. Lynda

#225 Comment By Ruthie On August 20, 2014 @ 5:26 pm

To Lynda, who posted Aug 16–I hear your desperation. Please call your son’s case manager and explain your situation and demand an emergency placement. You need. Break and it is ok to ask for help. I work in group homes and we are staffed 2/3 and we get tired!!! I can’t imagine 24/7. Often we get placements where someone has been acting out badly at home and they settle in very well. The stimulation of scheduled activities, a variety of staff, and roommates makes for an interesting day most if the time. For aggressive or inappropriate behaviors, we follow a support plan that usually calms the client and gives choices. Many prayers for you and your son

#226 Comment By Wellieg On September 4, 2014 @ 6:15 pm

Research has pointed out so many things about autism and parents but it does not solve anything. Those of us living the autism nightmare know that its not about all these publications which we don’t even have time to read, it is the “what do we do about it?” what support should we give to families? how do we bring relief to families that are struggling with multiple children diagnosed with autism. I don’t care how many research articles you write, tell me how to balance my life and if you don’t know how, then please, don’t tell me what I already know!

#227 Comment By anotherAutismMom On September 20, 2014 @ 1:32 pm

One parent suggested she was the only one who loved Autism and the awesome side of it, no, me too!! I do not, however, love trying to support my family on next to nothing as I had to leave my professional job to care for my special needs children. They need parents and our TIME, doing things for and with them, teaching them how to function in the world and they need a lot of other expensive things, too. There is no happy medium. We can’t dump the raising of our children on a specialized baby-sitter and spend every waking moment working to try and earn enough to pay them to parent my kids. I nearly killed myself working those hours and had to have a wake up call from my doctor and my husband still keeps those hours to no avail. We have no extended family to help. It’s just the two of us, a DAV husband whom the VA doesn’t help, and we are struggling to do the best we can, and, no, public assistance isn’t there for us. If anyone dares to suggest it is there for just such “extreme instances”, I DARE them to apply and learn the harsh truth about the American “safety net”; we learned that it doesn’t exist. Let’s talk PTSD when the “little t” trauma revolves around choosing which child we will feed properly that day because of their severe sensory issues with food and we can’t afford to buy both. When a bunch of celery has to count as vegetables for the week for the family because the school is too far away to walk and transportation to work, schools, and therapies costs a third of your income. We love the awesome parts of Autism, but without financial stability, which so many families lose like we did, this becomes a burden financially and thereby increases stress and worry exponentially. It is never a burden of the heart, never, but those who haven’t faced it, cannot possibly understand how the produce section of the grocery store can feel like the untouchable Garden of Eden and bring you to tears for your children and every child living in poverty around the country and around the globe. That’s when PTSD meets you dead on at the grocery store, mommies. I’m not being critical of anyone’s experience. I’m trying to be the voice of reality. All parents of children with special needs want… is a little patience and a little understanding. We really are doing the best we can most of the time. If you think we aren’t? Offer a hand chasing our kid that ran away in the parking lot or a compassionate handshake or a hug instead of ridicule when you almost run over them.

#228 Comment By DAVID On September 21, 2014 @ 5:04 pm

I have been raising 2 children with disabilities 1 more then the other, one of which is Autistic, i have also been a vet, i dont think the heros of our country are getting what this is saying so, being a father not a mother i will do my best to help out here. My son is a beautiful child but, he cannot speak, he cannot pull from a pecs book his broken heart, his fears his emotions, thus its very emotional to watch because this is not a friend or neighbor it is your child! I want our soldiers to understand i do not think this was written on who gets the blunt the parent or the soldier, but i can tell you this as a human being my son will be with me until i leave this world this may go on in my life for the next 30 years thats a long time to watch your child unsure of a world, and the pain hits you in places you never thought you could endure pain, as soldiers i think you for what you give and pray peace for what you see each day and thank you for the freedom which you so do without hesitation. pain is pain and love is love, nothing here to be weighed.

#229 Comment By Smitty On September 22, 2014 @ 10:51 pm

What about fathers of chdren with disabilities? I spend way more time taking care of my mentally handicapped autistic son than his mother. This article should also address fathers, yes some if us are the main caregivers to their children!!!

#230 Comment By Stuart Nachbar On September 24, 2014 @ 9:51 am

Wow, as the father and primary caregiver of an ASD son, I know the stresses. They stink. As for the Combat Veterans, this is not a contest, and nothing compares with serving our country. The tests are showing that the effects on the body (measurable levels) are the same. Not the experience or the reality of the situation. Come home soon and be safe.

#231 Comment By mary On September 26, 2014 @ 7:20 pm

I am the mother of an autistic child. The stress studies are correct

#232 Comment By Suzanne On September 26, 2014 @ 7:42 pm

Has there been any more studies related to stress in caregivers? What was the hormone being tested? Are other hormone levels also indicating stress being studied? Are there any long term studies of either soldiers or caregivers relating the hormone deficits to acual outcome in regard to illness, disability of the parent or soldier later in life or premature death.
Please catch us up since this was done in 2009.

#233 Comment By Ni On October 11, 2014 @ 2:47 pm

I agree with your research. I am always stressed. It would be wonderful to have support. Unfortunately a nice pat on the shoulder and a “there, there, you are a good mom,” does little to help us. Respite is a little help, but with the low funding, small ampunt of time given, high hourly charges, and don’t forget guilt ovet wanting a break, it is if very little help. No ine else can understand my child as much as me. There is more guilt. When i am happy for the success of my other child, i sad for my hild who does not connect with others, is always blamed for issues at school, ( whether he actually did it or not). You see, other kids know how to get him started, to blow up and lose his cool. Then the teachers will think it was all him, because he is the emotional one. Anger is the one he does know how to express. I need esucation. Not talk therapy, not once a week sessions with instructions, but someone to help in school. He is smart. He knows so much. He qualifies for special ed. He has an iep. He does not get behavior therapy at school. Insurance will not pay for our behavioral therapist to come to school and help the teachers and students, or him. The teachers will not be paid to come to our therapy. That is the disconnect. He is doing better at home. We know how not to push his buttons. People say homeschool him. That is tha last thing he needs. He has to learn to connect the dota socially. He can not do that at home. If we want to help these kids, have them grow up and be a productive part of society, we have to connect healthcarw to the place they spend most of their waking hours. School. Schools are only required to teach subjects and grt passing grades. If kids pass, and get by, they skate through uncared for

#234 Comment By Rosie On October 16, 2014 @ 3:05 pm

The stress of keeping it together while caring for a child that throws objects at you while trying to cook, nurse a baby, shower, brush your teeth, etc is what I would call a battle in and of itself. Combat with your own demons. Being therapeutic while sleep deprived because of the worries is a battle. It was good to read this. I’d rather work my ER job during a crazy hectic shift, than handle my kid some days. It is stressful indeed.

#235 Comment By cherie On October 21, 2014 @ 5:21 pm

I would have to agree, with a 15 year old with Autism My work schedule has been modified several times as single mom me and my employer worked out workin 10 hr sift Friday – Monday which leaves me with more time to support her during the week.

#236 Comment By alison senna alonso On October 24, 2014 @ 10:40 pm

okay, when you go thru your house and measure your child’s growth based on the blood on the wall because of his headbanging…come and talk to me..you want stress..talk to the idiots at the state that r supposed to help with monies. yeah, they spend all their time yapping about policy and time sheets and money, while they make a decision about my son’s “immediate care” OVER THE PHONE, BECAUSE OF MONEY, this just reiterates my point over people being in charge that should not be in charge of anything. since when have nurses been able to diagnose anything over the fone.
i don’t know what the long term effects of combat soldiers are, but i can say some of the long term effects of parents dealing with the govt, state, family, and themselves because we ALWAYS want to be better is disastrous…GOD BLESS THE TROUPS/AND FAMILIES

#237 Comment By senna On October 25, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

my son is 22 years old…has severe self injurious behaviours and has been “treated” at johns Hopkins.
watching a child pull their hair out, beat themselves sensless and bash their face and ears to the point that his face is dismorphic is more than any human should bear. I love him to death and that might be the death of me. he can be violent and bites and pulls hair. i’m just hoping when I die, I get a seat near the orchestra and the champage fountain. I will pray for all the parents and the soldiers who suffer from ptsd. god bless us all

#238 Comment By Jacqueline from America On October 27, 2014 @ 1:46 pm

Lindsey that posted in July of 2014, Im offended that your offended.
PTSD is not just your problem or soldiers! for you to feel that way tells me you actually have no idea of what my American life is with my adult autistic son. perhaps you have only seen a few examples of the effects of an autistic adolescent or adult? who have you been around to see and live autism? I’ve been hospitalized in the psychiatric hospital at least 5 times. Im still on meds for my panic attacks. I see my psychiatrist every 3 months. There are ‘triggers’ all the time that brings out the PTS. you must be bitter. guess what? i get bitter and frustrated being around mom’s who have been able to ‘fix’ or to help improve their own autistic child. the PTS comes out in my dreams even! Your personal experiences are yours but mine our my own too! I do suffer.
thanks and bye

#239 Comment By Tami On November 5, 2014 @ 1:14 am

I took my daughter in to be tested for Autism and was told she has a couple things in several categories but they refuse to diagnose her as such because she is to social. They instead said she has Op-positional Defiance Disorder. I dont know what the difference is but every day is a struggle. She screams and kicks walls to the point my neighbors call the police. I am exhausted all the time. I miss work a min of once a week to care for her. I am a single mom. I lose employment due to caring for my child. My friends and family refuse to help because she is so hard to handle so it is very rare for me to have spare time or any time to have adult relationships at all. I rarely see a friend. Any time that I have to have adult time is either via internet or phone. I am not complaining by any means just saying this article is right on, parents with hard to handle kids or special needs kids do not have a life and they consistently lose their jobs. It leads to evictions from our homes and homelessness. It would be wonderful to have some help from time to time. I havent worked in almost 6 months due to losing my job to care for my child. If not for a good friend moving in with me just so I would have a roof I would be homeless for the 2nd time in less than 2 years. I cant buy anything my kids need because I cant hold a job. There has to be some relief somewhere. There has to be an employer that is willing to work with people that have children with special needs. Counseling only helps parents a little. They always say the same thing….Try this or that which you have tried a million times. They tell you to ask family for help….family doesnt help. It is hard and if we can find a way to help people they will be the most appreciative group you will ever know.

#240 Comment By D and L On November 9, 2014 @ 10:07 am

My wife and I are the parents of FIVE autistic boys. Their range on the spectrum varies –

My 14 year old is fully verbal, but has sensory and social issues as well as intellectual challenges. He MAY be able to function on his own, but WITH assistance.

My 13 year old is in the regular stream in school, but has emotional management issues, is very compulsive/obsessive, and has a very low frustration tolerance level.

My 11 year old is also in the regular school stream. But he is VERY hyperactive, has a very scattered attention span, and has issues with executive functions.

My 7 year old presents the most challenge by far. His reasoning skills are VERY impaired, he can be violent, and has very little impulse control. He will never be able to function on his own without community assistance.

My 5 year old has extremely low impulse control. He would run in front of a car just to see what it would be like to be hit by one. He has jumped out of windows, and left the house in the middle of the night. He has tried to put objects in our gas fireplace to see what would happen if they burn.

My wife and I have been married for 15 years. Other than attending a family wedding for one weekend, we have had NO time to go on a vacation TOGETHER. Other than an occasional respite worker, we have next to no family to rely on that can help take the load off so that we can take the vacation that we deserve. The ones with their hearts in the right place cannot be relied on, because they would be instantly and massively overwhelmed by what we deal with on a minute-by-minute basis. So other than the rare stress-filled family vacations we take, we each go on separate vacations because we both need some time to recharge, but that only contributes to the notion that we are continuing to move apart maritally .

We CONSTANTLY have to endure the judgement of others for having the temerity and the nerve to have the large family we’ve always wanted, as if we could have predicted or planned or chosen to be overwhelmed by autism. We face constant criticism for our children’s autism related behaviors. We cannot go to regular family functions, attend community events, or participate in other daily activities that everyone takes for granted. Our social life is totally sporadic. We have been so stressed out that my wife has had to take time off work because she has been utterly overwhelmed by what goes on in our life. I have previously been off work due to me being overwhelmed as well, however, had to return to work because of the financial implications of having both of us off work. In a word, we don’t have the luxury of both of us being simultaneously overwhelmed and burnt-out.

My wife brushes her teeth with very hot water, and my 14 year old (who at the time was 10), went to put on a Thomas The Tank Engine tattoo on his hand and ran up to immerse his hand under the water to make it stick and ended up scalding himself. The 20 year old camp counselor at the camp he was attending contacted Children’s Aid because when the counselor asked him what happened to his hand, he replied, “mommy burnt me”. We were subjected to a very invasive investigation by Children’s Aid that EVENTUALLY found we were innocent of abusing our children, which of course we were. We’ve had MANY trips to the hospital due to our children injuring themselves because they’ve put something in an electrical socket, jumping on and falling off the bed, insisting on touching our gas fireplace, finding some of our hidden prescribed medication and ingesting it, swallowing our older child’s marbles……..and much more. Some of these incidents were due to negligible impulse control; others to an unappreciation of the concept of personal safety. Now we live with the perpetual fear of having our children apprehended for any type of mishap which, however, has not happened yet due to our constant and exhausting vigilance.

Our house is completely trashed by the end of the weekend, and we are exhausted to the point of collapse by Monday morning BEFORE the workweek, thus commonplace and consistent house and yard work has become a distant memory. We have broken light fixtures, ruined furniture, holes in dry-wall, a exponentially growing laundry pile, and a mountainous sink full of dishes.

We love our children with every fiber our being, and everyday we battle with the worry about what will happen to our children when we inevitably pass on. I have a high stress career in law-enforcement and can empathize somewhat with what a soldier might experience. But I can promise you…………NO ONE can ever be able to put themselves in my wife’s shoes or mine.

#241 Comment By Melissa On November 10, 2014 @ 7:23 pm

As a single mother of 6, one which is autistic we do need more programs to help families handle the everyday stress. Employers should be more considerate and let them have a set schedule, since autistic kids need a consistent routine.

#242 Comment By Sam On November 12, 2014 @ 1:21 am

As the mother of an autistic adult, I can totally related to this article. My son tried several living arrangements that never work. He cannot work because he is too impulsive, scattered and stubborn and babyish. He is drawn to the wrong people. His needs are long and he cannot fulfill them. He becomes disconnected and angry. I am constantly in a state of woe because he never reaches a plateau with all his experiences. He says he’ll listen but never does. We are running out of options. I feel like I flunked the course although I know I have tried everything to help him. Nothing does the trick.

#243 Comment By Rona On November 23, 2014 @ 8:50 am

The good Dads are affected. The others well are freaking coward jerks!!!!

#244 Comment By scott On December 7, 2014 @ 6:17 pm

What about dad’s who support the family financially so that mom can take care of the child!!! That is pretty stressful. The mom cannot contribute economically as a result.

#245 Comment By LaWanda On December 15, 2014 @ 9:42 pm

To everyone here saying I have no idea what a combat veteran goes through. I want to ask you a queation. Do you know what a mother with a child on the autism spectrum goes through on a daily basis? I have been in a battle for 14 years and I get no leave. I have lived in this war for 14 years straight with no reprieve. I have been physically assaulted numerous times by my son while he was in the midst of a “meltdown”. I have had to physically put myself in harm’s way to prevent him from harming himself. We have had the police called because neighbors thought with all the screaming and banging going on that my child was being abused, when he was tearing the house apart because he is unable to express any emotion except rage when upset. I have lost jobs, been evicted, and have had almost everyone that we come in contact with blame my sons behaviors on my failure as a parent. I have become socially isolated, because I am afraid to take my son into a social situation because of what may happen and am afraid to leave him alone because of what may happen, and no one would even consider babysitting because they are afraid of what may happen. I have to homeschool because of his social anxiety which prevents him from being able to function in a school setting, but have to battle to get him to do his schoolwork on a daily basis. I work a full time job on a different shift than my husband so that someone will always be with him and am interrupted at that job numerous times a day because there is a” situation” that my husband (his step father) can’t t handle. My marriage is on the verge of collapse and my other children constantly get pushed aside because this one needs so much attention. He will probably never be able to live independently which means that I will care for him and battle these behaviors for the rest of my life; and did I mention that he is already bigger than me? I lie awake at night wondering who is going to care for him when I pass away and I am only 40. I will not even go into the psychiatrists, therapists, and other professionals that I have to deal with on a daily basis in order to try to make some kind of progress nor the advocacy that I have to do on a daily basis. Please do not tell me that I have no idea of what stress is because I am a woman living in America. I didn’t get a choice to fight this war. My term of enlistment will never be up, giving me the choice to re enlist. My battle began when my son was born and will end when I die. Everyday I wonder if I am strong enough to handle this and then tell myself that I have to be because there is no other choice. Everyday is a struggle to keep it together and stay afloat when I just feel like I am drowning. I am not trying to minimize what you have been through. I just ask that you don’t minimize my fight.

#246 Comment By theresa On December 16, 2014 @ 11:31 am

This was not an article about combat soldiers.Its about stress levels of a parent with a disabled autistic child. There are different levels on the spectrum.
Imagine having YOUR child who is non-verbal coming home upset or with bruises on him/her and not being able to tell you who or how they got them. This is the stress level that will NEVER go away!
Imagine not know if something will upset YOUR child causing him/her punch you in the face or bite you or him/her self. This stress level that will never go away.
Imagine You loose job after job because Your employer doesn’t understand why you need to leave Your job at any given minute to go pick up your child from school due to having a seizure and being rushed to the ER on a weekly basis. I can get ANY job but to KEEP it is the problem.
just a insight to why our stress levels are so high…
to say a diet will correct a persons glucose level is ridiculous when chronic stress on a minute to minute day
do you have an Autistic child Jackie??? If you don’t you have no clue what our day to day stress levels are. What causes them?

#247 Comment By de On January 7, 2015 @ 7:43 pm

As a mom, single mom, of a teen and a 11 yr old with DS and Autism, it is doubly as hard to deal with especially since many do not have help.

My personal care each day of my child is 1 hr in am, 2 hrs in early eve( late afternoon) and at least 2 hrs at bedtime. This is during school week. On weekend it triples. My child stims constantly and must be redirected all day long. Her cognitive functioning has decreased so now I must verbally prompt 3-5 x per activity, like dressing.

She is toilet trained but only for the last year. She still needs reminders to toilet, to wipe and now needs assistance for menstrual care each month.

I am not complaining but there are very few parents who deal this much with their child’s needs who have typically developing kids.
The added stress of financial matters and inability to work regular schedules due to their child’s needs, just makes our stress levels so much higher.

If only a government official, someone from SSA, and the local authorities could come stay with me for one day, they would see what amount of stress we deal with every day!

#248 Comment By S On January 8, 2015 @ 2:34 am

Stress of a combat soldier alright…my adult autistic son has always been a handful. Now that he living apart from us the stress is still there. He wants to be independent and do for himself but he can’t seem to follow thru on most things. It scares me because I wonder if he will ever be content and independent. I force myself to remain optimistic but it is hell dealing with people who don’t understand where he’s coming from.

#249 Comment By Steve On January 21, 2015 @ 2:30 pm

What about the poor fathers?

Attend a support group and it is for all practical purposes only women. Men view things differently and have no one to talk to that I have ever seen.

#250 Comment By Suzanne Gray On January 23, 2015 @ 10:31 pm

I am the mom of a 33 y.o. who is deaf and loosing her vision. She is also on autism spectrum. Additionally, I have been a single mom for sometime and also a social worker who has had cool but stressful jobs, especially involving the systems. My endocrine system is fried crispy and T3/ T4 medications only help a little. I am 58 y.o. and have had 2 cataracts rheplaced early on possibly at a premature age due to endocrine challenges. Boy, can I relate. Guess it ends when we’re 6 feet under. . .

#251 Comment By Melanie Brittingham On January 24, 2015 @ 9:20 pm

This applies to mothers of children with disabilities in general…not just Autism. My child has severe Cerebral Palsy and I feel like I’ve been at war since the day he was born. I’m exhausted, but love my son dearly. I could definitely use a more flexible employer and more sleep though.

#252 Comment By Scott AU Crawley On February 9, 2015 @ 4:01 pm

But single autism dads with both kids also being diabetic, we have no stress, right?

#253 Comment By Bonnie On February 18, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

this applies to moms of children with disabilities, NOT just ASD parents!!!

#254 Comment By Angeleta Banks On February 22, 2015 @ 1:19 pm

This is a very good article. My son is 27 years old. He has a multitude of development disabilities and medical issues. I am a single parent also. Life is such a challenge with a special need a individual.

#255 Comment By Kay On February 24, 2015 @ 9:56 am

No, this applies to Moms with ASD because this essay and study was done with moms who have children with asd. NOt moms who have children with a disability. I’m sure this does apply to every parent with a child who is disabled. But this particular article in its context applies to it’s main topic. Mom’s with children who have asd have stress comparable to combat sodliers.

#256 Comment By Kkb On February 26, 2015 @ 6:29 am

@kay. Good point it’s important to remind people of the scope of the research. Thats not to diminish the stress of other parents of kids with disabilities. We who are that …we know those stresses. Take care of yourselves out there all moms and dads. Your kids need you healthy. Thumbs up!

#257 Comment By Christy Zartler On February 26, 2015 @ 8:53 pm

I am a Mother of a 15 yr old who is severely autistic. She also has Cerebral Palsy. She has Self Injurious Behavior. She can injure anyone around her. I’ve been hospitalized because she almost bit my finger off. Usually bites are in larger soft tissue areas on my body not needing medical attention (I’m an RN). It was an eye opener, when the ER doc said, “How many times have you been bitten”? She was 12 yrs old at that time… She is non-verbal, but knows how to get a message across! She sure can be a sassy tart! :)

#258 Comment By Robin Gavin On February 27, 2015 @ 4:24 pm

Being a parent of an child with autism can be a beautiful thing at times. When that child has emotional problems it can be hell. Trying to make a child with autism happy when they are alone and have nothing to do is close to impossible. My child is now 23 and is at home with me. I have been in contact with DDD and they have done nothing for me at all. She needs to be in a program doing things she likes. She loves animals and art. I am constantly buying her things to do and work with. I had her work on a horse farm once and she loved it. When that stopped she was sad again. I now have to watch her in a depressed state and she blames me for it. I have two other children on top of that I have a child who is grown and need meds and will not take them. Her mental state is not good at all and on top of that I have a 16 year old son who is not getting much of my time because of the other two. I am at the end of my rope at times. My stress is so bad at times that my hole body hurts.

#259 Comment By Kathryn On February 28, 2015 @ 8:08 am

I am a combat stress mom. My son has multiple mood disorders. This study mentions other categorieS besides asd. It addresses mothers of children with “behavior problems.” We count too.

#260 Comment By Kathryn On February 28, 2015 @ 8:22 am

I think the reason the article addresses mom’s is because in general kids show their worst behavior to their mothers because they have that bond and know mom will always love them no matter what. Not saying Dads do not love…

#261 Comment By Melissa On February 28, 2015 @ 10:49 am

Yes, this also applies to dads and parents of children with any disability. This study just happened to involve mothers of adolescent and adults on the autism spectrum.

#262 Comment By Alexandra Bricklin On March 3, 2015 @ 11:42 am

I concur. I am one of those moms.

#263 Comment By Samantha Humphrey On March 3, 2015 @ 10:53 pm

All caregivers of children with disabilities or health issues, such as diabetes, suffer extreme stress. The primary caregiver may suffer even more. As our children become adults, the reality that we will be care giving at this level for many more years only increases the stress. It is unfortunate that this article only addressed mothers with autism but the research was only based on those mothers.

#264 Comment By Elliot Frank On March 4, 2015 @ 8:49 am

We don’t need a study–applies to dad’s too!

#265 Comment By Patty Meiners On March 4, 2015 @ 9:53 pm

I agree with this article and add special education teachers with students having autism, extreme behavior issues, and other severe disabilities. I too suffer from chronic fatigue, as a result of trying to meet the needs of each student. I’m on a leave of absence. I miss my students terribly

#266 Comment By Alicia Hutt On March 6, 2015 @ 4:45 pm

I am so relieved to read this! I am well aware of this, however always felt as though I needed to try harder, do better, etc. I didn’t want to admit my own issues to a caseworker, or anyone else even those that were supposed to help. I had several “break downs”, was told I was bi polar, fell asleep driving, self medicated, suffered major depression, anxiety, put on a ton o weight which I KNOW was stress related, gained several ulcers, fought for what was right, gave up when I couldn’t access help and resources…was given all kinds of parenting advice….and was dealing with the other parent who was not involved, in denial, or didn’t want to take the time to understand and accused me of diagnosing everyone….I was told at a young age of 4 my first son was “Mentally Retarded”, needed to be put on Benadryl prior to school, but then at a meeting told that he wasn’t failing so he was fine, over and over district after district…school failed him! I was told that he didn’t need educational help! And told by my own family I didn’t know how to raise a boy, I should just beat him etc….all the while I knew there was something “different” , he was also a very sick baby and has several co morbidities! When I delivered twins when my oldest son was four, I knew within two months my second second son also had “issues”. Again a battle!!! I had two daughters as well who were upset because the boys had it easy, but also suffer from anxiety, depression and add.
ANY CARING, loving parent/caregiver, loved one or responsible party for a unique individual knows the stress, responsibility, worry, etc….regardless of the disability or behavior! I know God chose me for several reasons, however the damage or what I call “my ptsd” of having gone through this and still am, is something I need to work on. I am so thankful for this article!!! Thank You

#267 Comment By Hector Viramontes On March 6, 2015 @ 6:18 pm

Why there is any from of disability in the human race is beyond me, but there is, and yes its very stressful for the parents and family members all around during the journey to the miracle of a cure or therapy to a cure. God strenghten each of you on this thread because you have chosen to care along with your belief and not lose faith.

#268 Comment By Sharada On March 10, 2015 @ 11:07 am

Very true! I am managing a 28 year old adult with aspergers. He is verbal & when he is disturbed & repeats questions out of anxiety it is difficult. I try to remain calm answering him once. I write the answer & show him. If his behaviour becomes very difficult (starts shouting & tries to beat me I ask him to go to his room or I remove myself from him. I do Reiki & keep myself positive. I appreciate my son’s talents & give the time to develop it. I love him very much. I give him the freedom to be himself.

#269 Comment By Tramy Nguyen On March 11, 2015 @ 8:41 pm

I have two boy who have autism but I do not mention what stressful I have and what happen in the future if I’m not here with my kids. Timothy now 16 years old still wearing diaper and non verbal . My Brendon now 10 years old but he speak a little that make me feel better . I’m trying to be healthy and happy with my boys even I do not know what will happen to them if I die. Anyway, Praying is a formula that helping me to get hope for my sons to talk to me or to call me Mom before I die.

#270 Comment By Liz OH On March 13, 2015 @ 6:09 pm

I agree that the scope of the research is about moms of kids with autism but if we continue to divide among disability all kids with disabilities and families will not be supported. You can’t say that moms of kids with one disability is more stressful than another. It is really dependent on the family.

#271 Comment By Lisa Roberts On March 13, 2015 @ 9:10 pm

This article is very clear that their research is related 2 asd, not diabetes, or cp. Had have been about other disabilities, u wouldn’t have mums of kids with asd posting these comments. As a Mum with 13yr old twins who have asd, I can tell u, unless u walk in my shoes, u have no idea of the constant violence, control issues, being held prisoner in your own home, fighting education, health, SS, family who refuse 2 believe the hidden disability. I am totally empathetic that parents of ALL disabled children struggle, but this post is about this disability & I am disappointed by the total lack of respect by other parents!

#272 Comment By meggie On March 23, 2015 @ 2:20 pm

I am a single parent to a child with asd. I promise I can look around and see several situations that look much, much worse than what I go through with my child, however….

If your child has palsy or is in a wheel chair, if they have something that makes them not terribly threatening physically…if the have the ability to actually communicate a need, in whatever fashion it takes to communicate it….
Try to imagine asking your child to please not touch something that doesn’t belong to him….and, out of nowhere, getting smacked in the face. Or head butted in the nose so hard that the skin actually breaks open. Then imagine going three or four weeks with nothing but pleasantness….only to get smacked again for reasons unknown to you.
This has just started with us. He’s 18, and someone at school hit him about 5 months ago. Up until that time, he had no aggressive incidents. Now, 6 in 5 months.
I imagine it’s very much like a relationship with an abusive spouse. No idea what set them off, but something did….and they hit you yet again….
I have no idea how/when/IF this will resolve. Until then, perhaps we can all remember to pray for one another, and to care…..because these illnesses are different, but they still have many similarities. The main one being parents whose hearts hurt over their children.

Peace be with you all….

#273 Comment By Rachel On March 30, 2015 @ 12:27 pm

As a researcher and a mother of a a child with ASD, I agree that this is PROBABLY true for all special needs parents, but as one person indicated the study was specific to ASD and FXS so that is what was reported. No reason for all to feel like they are left out personally. If you know anything about research, it is best to keep independent and dependent variables focused so that it the findings are based considered evidence-based. If you think someone should do research in this area on your child’s specific disability, advocate for it. That being said, do not take this above article too seriously when it compares us with combat soldiers. I pulled the actually study and the researchers DID NOT compare these parents with combat soldiers directly. They only allude to PSTD and cortisol levels in their literature review and do no make that specific conclusion. I am disappointed in the title of this article because it jumps to assumptions that are not based on evidence.

#274 Comment By Dale On March 31, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

When reading the title of the study, I did struggle with not taking offense to the title. I was single dad of a child with autism for several years before marrying again and I am also a combat veteran (Marine, not solider). I know that this study was specific to a group of mother’s with children on the spectrum and the data collected showed the additional stress levels and interactions, etc. I would hope that this type of research continue and be broadened out to encompass parents of children with all types of disabilities. I would also hope that the editors and researchers do their best not to propagate the facial bias against against single fathers of special needs children and realize that any single parent will have increased challenges in the home, at work and social situations–as do joint parents.
I am fortunate to have a very understanding boss and I am given a great deal of flexibility that has allowed me to take care of my family (teen with autism and two typical children) and I pay back that flexibility by working late hours after the kids are in bed and going above and beyond to pay back the trust my director has in me with flexibility and sometimes tele-working. I know that others might not get this opportunity and that is an additional stress in itself.
I also must comment that the comparison to combat is not appropriate and while hormone levels may show similarities, that is the only data that can even come close to making a comparison. The snap of a bullet over your head, explosions and just the chaos of combat cannot be used to compare as it is a disservice to both veterans and parents of special needs–I am not saying that parents with special needs children do not have stress, only that the comparison is not appropriate.
Again, I believe that research like this is needed and that more information supporting the struggles of parents with special needs children needs to be readily available to help us all–I just hope that the research will be objective (or at least the title) and help us convince the workplace, friends and others that we do have an extra challenge in our life and that we appreciate whatever flexibility employers and others can give us.

#275 Comment By Susan Lowery On March 31, 2015 @ 10:58 pm

I agree that parenting a child with any disability is stressful, but as a mom of one son with ASD and another son with Down syndrome, I have found that Autism is 10 times more difficult to deal with than Down Syndrome. My husband and I feel that it would have been easier raising 10 kids with Down syndrome that it has been to raise just one with Autism. The stress level cannot be compared (in my opinion).

#276 Comment By julie On April 12, 2015 @ 9:43 am

I am a single parent of a 29 year old with Asbergers disorder I have raised him by my self.I have had support in his younger years with 1 to 1 workers,Respite care .But after he turned 18 was when the services were harder to find.It has been a difficult journey for both he and I,Not much family support at all .He is my son and I adore him but I am tired 29 years of devotion that I so not regret .But it is common to feel one has lost themselves along the way of raising a special needs individual.To raise a special needs individual alone as a single parent takes sacrifice and time,energy,It seems like a 24 /7 Commitment to help the individual with their goals and help them to be as self efficient as possible as they cf disc into adulthood.It is like taking on a huge tidal wave every morning when I wake up out my feet on the ground it is onward from the time i open my eyes ,His needs have to be met,his welfare is my priority .There are support systems out there .They are helpful. But it is important to find a place in the day for you .Take care of you .Because it can be exhausting and consuming.I know I have done this for 29 years and iam still doing it .He’s my son and he needs me.

#277 Comment By Paula Bossert On April 17, 2015 @ 5:34 pm

Please encourage Mothers of children with classic autism never to stop helping them to communicate their feelings. I earned four teaching certificates in evening grad schools so that I could “be there” for my daughter and my students with all manner of disabilities. Recently when home for a weekend, Becky my fifty year old severely retarded autistic daughter, looked at me with a serious expression and tenderly said “I love you!” My heart and intellect told me she had learned to love me, the woman who never gave up trying to help her express her willingness to “be there” for me. Paula Bossert. M.A.

#278 Comment By Erin On April 25, 2015 @ 11:06 am

What you all must understand, is that AUTISM and ASD comes with a certain type of unpredictability that you do not see as much in other disabilities (please keep in mind, I am a mom with a kiddo with autism, but I have cared for MANY children with disabilities, including his, before he was even born). Kids with Autism also often have co-morbid conditions. So those of us dealing with this, aren’t trying to belittle your experience with your child with this article, but most of us are dealing with a child who has MULTIPLE disabilities, one of which is most likely behavioral in origin, and sometimes injurious to us physically (or our caregivers, IF we can find one willing to put up with this behavior) when our child has Autism/ASD. There is an unpredictability in stressful events/behaviors that you will not find as much of with other disabilities (you can plan your care or day, mostly without fear that, for some reason unkown to you, that routine just won’t work for your kiddo today). And honestly, because most of our kids don’t “look” like they’re disabled, I bet you’re not feeling nearly as ridiculed in public when your child is having a meltdown and everyone around you is looking to you to “control your child”, because it’s not obvious to everyone that he is disabled. But please, continue to focus on the fact that this article made you “feel bad” because you have a disabled child, too. Just remember, EVERYONE is fighting a battle. This is research done on THIS subject, and THIS disability only. No one is trying to belittle your battle……but try to remember ours is pretty darn hard, as well. :)

#279 Comment By Shelly On April 26, 2015 @ 6:13 pm

Thank goodness for the ADA…they are helpful to both mothers and fathers with children who have special needs. Maybe it’s too overwhelming for some than others….but in any case at the end of the day, if there are no family or friends who can step in and assist…turn to either your regional center or refer back to help from the American Disability Act They help parents too!

#280 Comment By Lori On May 4, 2015 @ 1:39 pm

I am a mother of a teen with Asperger’s and went through two deployments where my husband was out of the country for 15 months the first time and 12 for the second. I agree they are equal. And doubly hard when you have to deal with both at the same time. I don’t sleep often, I worry, always looking for care/treatment for my son. I avoid my own health issues as I take off so much time for my son. So, then when I get sick, I get really sick and down for months. Not an easy life for sure. Glad others realize this struggle and comforting to know I am not alone. Great article. :-) I wonder if there is a similar test to be done for siblings to kids with Autism. I know my daughter struggles as well because her brother gets a lot of the attention as he needs more help then she does. And her brother is older, so has to be hard to comprehend.

#281 Comment By Mama On May 7, 2015 @ 7:51 pm

As Mother’s Day comes around again, we mothers must give ourselves an extra pat on the back. We are the warriors for our children: youngsters and adults. We fight a never ending battle for our children to be understood, when there are times we don’t even understand the rage and behavior. We are never out of it until we close our eyes. Oh how we want them to grow and learn and slowly every so slowly we see some changes. Not enough for this world that is moving so fast. Technology has replaced the human touch that our children need so much. Let’s all strive to get the masses educated 1in68. The time now.

#282 Comment By Jillian On June 1, 2015 @ 4:46 pm

Bravo for this!! My 27 year old daughter has a rare chromosome abnormality. She is the sweetest person in the world 95% of the time. Then just with a flip of a switch, she becomes violent. I have very bad thoughts going thru my mind during her violent spells, and yet there is nothing in the world I wouldn’t do for her. I love her more than a mom could ever love a child.
Nobody understands what we go thru. It is exhausting.

#283 Comment By Leash On June 6, 2015 @ 5:44 am

Some of these comments really annoyed me…. This article is about AUTISM and parents who care for such people! Not diabetes or asthma or whatever. If you want to read about that, go to another related article.
In the land of autism, everyday is a battle (for the parent and the child), whether it’s explaining the small change to his routine, confronting the education system, listening to the same sentence 500 times, the outbursts, the meltdowns, watching the self-injurious behaviour or cleaning up projectile vomit from dinner every single night.
This article is great at highlighting what carers have to go through (and our poor children). Instead of complaining about why parents with children with diabetes havent been added in this article, we should be more concerned with what this high level of cortisone in our bodies is doing to our health.

#284 Comment By Karen B On June 13, 2015 @ 7:27 pm

Taking care of an adolescent or adult child with any sort of severe disability can be exhausting and stressful enough — the physical demands (lifting, not getting enough sleep, etc.), the mental stress (when will that next seizure happen?), and issues such as getting respite care, etc. However, the additional stress that many of us parents of children, teens and adults with ASD face is the violence by our child to self, family members, caregivers, peers and random strangers. That is what has nearly sent me over the age a number of times in the past two years since it intensified. Today my son’s aide had to go to the ER to get stitches, because my son threw his cup and it hit the aide’s face. Needless to say, we’re now having to find another aide who can endure the stress with us.

#285 Comment By ASDMom On June 16, 2015 @ 7:34 pm

Thanks for this article. It’s good to also read the comments. I was feeling pretty alone and depressed today. It’s good to feel I’m not alone when yet another day goes by when my now 22 year old son, who has aged out of the school system and receives no services flipped his switch and had a daily melt down in which he hurts himself and me. Love him dearly but feel like someone else mentioned – a battered spouse – but I couldn’t walk away from my son. Hugs to all the caregivers :-)

#286 Comment By Shirley On June 17, 2015 @ 9:46 am

Time to also look at the Wives of men with Aspergers. Not much is focused on this group of caregivers.

#287 Comment By Kathleen Kinsolving On June 19, 2015 @ 3:13 pm

This is ridiculous — a parent’s job is stressful, no matter what the kid is — the article reeks of prejudice — so tired of the autistic phobia!

#288 Comment By Gigi Davis On June 19, 2015 @ 3:13 pm

How narrow mind this article or study is .. All mothers with adolescents and young adult with disabilities have the same level of stress ..diott to Melanie, Scott, and Bonnie.etc.. Why not do a study to all parents with disable adolescents and young adults. Then publish that.. Then get some funding to assist the family ( parents and adolescents ,young adults)..

#289 Comment By Wendy Vorpahl On June 19, 2015 @ 5:37 pm

First off, to stop any resentment, I will say that this applies to all special needs caregivers–moms, dads, WHATEVER! If the child or adult you are caring for is not able to live independently, the care falls to you, and it takes a toll in ways that people ‘on the outside’ will never understand. Two of my four sons (ages 16 and 13) have classic autism, and summer is the hardest time of the year for me-no school days, no programs for kids their age, and my husband has a job that keeps him away in the summertime. Last year I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and osteoporosis: I am sure that years of caring for my sons is not helping as far as my health goes. This article is exactly what I needed right now-I feel validated!

#290 Comment By Robin On June 19, 2015 @ 10:07 pm

To the woman who said this article “reeks of prejudice”, would you say the same about a study of women with breast cancer & stress, that it is prejudiced against other illnesses? I doubt it. The disabled are the true minority of this country. You don’t hear people talking about it in Oscar speeches as their cause, you always see “regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion” and I always have to ADD “what about disability??”. 57 million Americans & it’s the most underemployed population in the U.S. My daughter worked her butt off for 15 years in school only to be given a “certificate of completion” instead of a diploma because she couldn’t pass a discriminatory standardized test.
When I ask an employer to consider creating an internship for my daughter so she can learn, they said “We are an Equal Opportunity Employer. She can apply.” Are there really equal opportunities for all? We know there are not. We face so many hardships, for Heaven’s sake, allow some of our stress to be validated. Thank you very much. Peace & blessings.

#291 Comment By Van On June 20, 2015 @ 11:36 am

I am single my sons father gave up on him since diagnosed ,he has married and adopted a REAL son as he put it ….but I’m here still struggling with my son BEN I love him but everything at this point seems to be a challenge and reading everyone’s comments ,I am relived that I am not losing this battle cause I am a bad mom.

#292 Comment By Shelly On July 7, 2015 @ 9:59 pm

I am sorry…but I too have an young adult Autistic son. Yes he can raise my stress level so high until I feel like I am about to jump out of my skin sometimes, but at the same time he really doesn’t understand the concept of what he is really doing. It comes with the territory, but I totally refute violence! I will not be abused! I will take measures that will be necessary to protect my son and myself If ever placed in that position.

#293 Comment By Crystal Howell On July 9, 2015 @ 11:51 pm

I also believe relationships are hard to have,keep, and maintain. With everyone people seems to think we are being non social but we are just tired. At the end of the day I just want to sit and watch TV. For that moment I’m normal. No one understands, I’m lonely I love my children but I would enjoy an adult conversation but at times I feel just too tired to be.

#294 Comment By JANE On July 16, 2015 @ 10:55 pm

You can’t just change the facts of this story. It is about ASD and mothers, not fathers or other disabilities. There may be a chance thst these groups have similar stresses, but it has not been proven unless they are included in the study. As for PTSD, combat soldiers have a very high rate. Well, thanks to this study we know this particlar group of mothers do as well. As for not tolerating violence, that sounds good in theory. However, I can tell you from experience, often police departments, hospitals etc will not help you if you try to get help DDD is useless.. And then what do you do when you have an autistic kid thats bigger and stronger than you, crying after they lost control after a meltdown. And believe me, we have tried therapy, ABA, meds etc . Its easy to judge when you havent walked in someone’s shoes.

#295 Comment By Maribeth On July 24, 2015 @ 4:34 pm

Great article I think the same thing applies to dads step moms step dads or any caretaker. Don’t lose hope and find beauty in the hard times.

#296 Comment By karen faircloth On July 28, 2015 @ 6:13 pm

My son, now 28, has autism and some days the sweetest thing alive. Then there are the days I dread. He will hit out of the blue, yell, curse and I know its better not to leave the house. But as a single parent I have to work and getting him up and to his day program is a battle.he will grab, try and bite me as I am driving. Never know when we go out if he will behave, so I am aways on edge.I am always on the watch for him getting out of control. I hate it. I love him buts it difficult life. Had a bypass several years ago and the Dr said I need to lower my stress, I laughed, how is that possible. He can go two days with no sleep

#297 Comment By Terri On July 29, 2015 @ 10:15 am

I totally agree that moms of children with autism have PTSD, but please do not forget the moms of other significantly impaired children including but not limited to medically fragile ( having to deal with medical professionals, constant worry about health, lack of sleep, etc. ), children with mental health disorders, children with severe physical impairment. With all the focus lately on autism, many tend to forget about the other children and parents of children with other severe disabilities. Thanks for listening.

#298 Comment By James On July 29, 2015 @ 2:46 pm

This is all very true. I feel like I have sort of PTSD occasionally after tough weeks w my differently-abled daughter. I can fully relate to these concepts and had to reduce my commitments at work severely to be able to be as available as possible to my little girl.
But… I can’t help but feel less than and sad after reading this article…
Like so many other articles on the topic of parenting it’s hard not to feel like Dads that are caregivers just don’t matter.
Every article I see starts with the supposition that women are the only ones facing these types of challenges. It’s anti-feminist and supports the patriarchal concept that men should not express or experience emotions and that women are wholly responsible for child-rearing. As a sensitive nurturer of a man, it stings when the gender pronoun used with these articles that I relate to so fully serves to make makes me feel even more isolated as a Dad that truly steps up to his role as a parent and advocate for his child. I recognize that this a a universal societal issue and this is by no means the 1st time I seen this happen – I just happen to see it so blatantly expressed in every paragraph of this article that I have to say something.

#299 Comment By Kim On July 30, 2015 @ 4:44 am

Wow! Nice comments. My kid’s disorder is more tragic than yours, contest! What is the end goal of all of this bickering? Your kid’s life is the worst therefore you are the winner of the it must be the toughest on you contest? Feel free to try and be supportive of one another. Well, some of you are. It’s awesome to see.

#300 Comment By George On July 30, 2015 @ 10:05 pm

As a father of a child with a disability I know all too well the difficulties but as a combat veteran also I can tell you it is nowhere near the same.

#301 Comment By Danae On July 31, 2015 @ 6:56 pm

I am one of the mom’s who was in this study. To be fair, this whole study was over 12 years long. This was just a small part of the results. When my 29 year old son was diagnosed with autism there was very little information or help out there. This study was started back in 1998, I believe? This article highlights just a very small part of what was discovered during the whole study. Also, none of us received individual test results, everything was and remains confidential. There was no personal gain for any of us to be made, it was all done to improve the lives of adolescents/adults with autism and their caregivers. Some of these comments are a bit offensive to me, of course it could apply to other special needs, etc. but this study (funded by grants) chose to focus on ASD…

#302 Comment By Teresa Vittorioso On August 1, 2015 @ 11:50 am

Yes, Yes, the article applies to all parents of children with special needs- well at least to those parents with non-verbal kids with lots of special needs who have aggressive and otherwise damaging chronic repetitive behaviors. So if your kid with cerebral palsy screams or flails or hurts himself or others, than you know how I feel, and the article applies more to you than it does a parent to a kid with high functioning autism who is socially awkward but talks and solves complex math problems in his head. Let’s not get caught up in semantics. This article is about how parents with kids like mine, parents like me, NEVER NEVER get a break- 24 hours a day- 365 days a year- people ask what are you doing for christmas, your birthday, your daughter’s birthday, etc, etc, the same thing we do everyday- try to survive and continue loving each other through the constant struggle. I’m not saying the struggle isn’t real for all parents of kids with special needs, but i wouldn’t say all parents of kids with some special needs have the same level of stress as a combat soldier. I have though, been saying that I do indeed have a traumatic stress disorder for years before this article came out. And I’m tired of trying to be PC about it. Some of you all have it as hard as I do, some a lot freaking harder than I do, and some not as hard at all. I appreciate the things in my life that aren’t as hard, but i also get pissed when ppl with kids who have Asperger’s or some rare genetic condition that might make their delightfully brilliant and well behaved child lose their vision some day try to compare their lives to mine. No. that’s not as hard. You don’t get it. It sucks and I’m sorry- but its not as hard. not combat soldier level. I’m not trying to pit us against each other- but I think empathy starts with understanding this.

#303 Comment By connie On August 3, 2015 @ 1:04 am

The past few months I’ve been worrying I may have the beginning of diabetes, I could not understand why my body was functioning different after I ate sweets. This article makes it clear, due to the stress levels and constant care for my autistic son after he fractured his ankle at an indoor trampoline facility. I am sure the added stress also was a contributor to my hair loss also. Add to that our school district refusing to provide home instruction unless I carried him down stairs to a “common” area, he’s not a feather, my back will never be the same.

#304 Comment By Jaz On August 4, 2015 @ 6:27 pm

It was nice to be validated. I have felt for years tremendous stress and panic over things i have no control over with regard to raising my son with attention, rage, emotional/ behavioral and learning needs..and the guilty i felt for my perceived neglect of my younger gifted son. So many things rang so true. I thought i was going to die. I lost my job, and almost lost my mind. It was the most challenging thing I have ever been thru. I am lucky..I am working it all out…I have slip backs but with validation and ongoing therapy..I am stronger. I identified with the article and found it supportive. Thank you for posting! :)

#305 Comment By TracieCarlos On August 8, 2015 @ 12:21 am

I never thought of it this way. I still experience some stress, fatigue, lots of fatigue but so happy to have shifted from despair and depression to occasional jammie days where I lower my expectations for everyone, including myself.
I searched and searched for someone to show me how to get through, in a new and different way that did not include feeling depressed, outright despair more often accompanied with the feeling of wanting to end my life. Nor did I want to be pessimistic, hateful of and about Autism. (I had heard plenty of what I would experience in venomous language from other fellow parents in so-called parent groups) It turns out, I am the one I was looking for all along. Isn’t it this way for all of us, no matter what we are going through in life that may be challenging?
It isn’t about what you are given but how you focus and shift. Our son is now 16 years old, such a blessing, his mother’s greatest teacher, my little master. Yes, we still have occasional challenges but they are nothing like what they once were, not only because he has changed and grown but because his mother has changed and grown in incredible ways. It is my humble perspective, this population as well as many others, are here to change the views of our world, if we are willing. I AM very willing. If one child can change his mothers perspective in the way this child has, imagine what this population WILL DO for the world. With great appreciation, Tracie

#306 Comment By Candy On August 9, 2015 @ 6:34 am

As a single parent mum of a 21 year old son with ASD – ADHD and a family that just never got it, despite a sister in the care industry, the most difficult part is the living on eggshells due to the highly unpredictable nature of his thoughts and opinions on life in general. Social aspects and interactions with people in general are a constant source of immense stress due to his likelyhood of exploding temper and contra opinions. His amazing lack of patience or empathy with the simple fact that everyone is entitled to think differently and hold different opinions is what makes us all individuals makes it difficult for him to maintain meaningful relationships and friendships. When his opinions are challenged, or he only hears part of a conversation and reacts to his perception of a conversation – watch out for t he explosion! Don’t get me wrong, he has friends, just not close buddies due to his lack of ability to recognise cues in conversation.
His crippling low self esteem means he finds any belief in his amazing abilities for fact retention and information storing difficult to use to his benefit. Tie this in with his lack of patience and literal take on life in general makes it very difficult for normal expectations of everyday living.
Life is very stressful, tearful, frustratingly limiting and lonely and in my experience the only people that “get it” are people in similar situations. The rest of the world label you as overprotective, neurotic, a push over etc who should show my son the door! How helpful is that???

#307 Comment By Catherine On August 11, 2015 @ 7:01 pm

In response to the message left at 11.50am on August 1.
I have a child with Aspergers and I can categorically say that it is exhausting both emotionally and physically. Yes, he is verbal, yes he is intelligent. But he is also violent, verbally abusive, has no sympathy or empathy and is in a constant state of high agitation. He does not have the ability to consider the impact of his behaviour, he is vulnerable to the suggestions of others and is unable to really distinguish between a good or bad decision. Yet he thinks he is ‘fine’.
I understand that you think your situation is ‘harder’ but this is because my son’s disabilities are hidden. It is not helpful to pit the parents of children such as mine against those parents whose children may have obvious physical disabilities where care giving can be physically exhausting.
I can most definitely say that I feel like my stress levels can be likened to that of soldiers in combat. My family has been through years of emotional distress with physical assaults regularly (and I mean almost daily) taking place and abusive language that would make a soldier blush!
How about we appreciate that both of our lives are not how we thought they would be and accept that, perhaps, the levels of stress we experience are unquantifiable to an outsider.

#308 Comment By Janet Madison On August 20, 2015 @ 6:24 pm

You said it.
My sister has 3 on the spectrum, 12, 10 and 6. God gives her and her husband
grace and peace. I see what an incredibly difficult lifestyle they have. Of course, most of
the task of care taking and managing of the family, is on their mom. She is a great mom.
I admire mom and dad.

#309 Comment By Janet Madison On August 20, 2015 @ 6:30 pm

After reading the other comments below, I just want to cry.
Take one day at a time, and pray to God for strength.
The big picture is so very scary, but all that we have is today.
Get through today.

#310 Comment By Dorene C. On August 20, 2015 @ 6:52 pm

I have 3 children on the ASD spectrum. The oldest is non-verbal. Every day is a challenge. I love my kids dearly, but I wish I’d had them earlier in life. I’m 46 and old enough to have grandkids… In other words, I should be enjoying my middle years…not raising children, especially ones with special needs. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted, stressed to the max, have very little support, and to top it off, a selfish, verbally abusive husband. I feel very much alone. I see no light at the end of the tunnel. This will probably be my cross to bear until I die. I’m a very resilient person, which is one of my best qualities, but even Superwoman has her limits.

#311 Comment By Lj On August 21, 2015 @ 5:30 am

ASD as we all know here encompasses a wide range of problems and severity so I would agree that not everyone who parents an autistic child would experience the same levels of stress. On the other hand studies such as this one are representetive of the sample population that they test – so if the findings indicate lots of chronically stressed out parents then the sample group probably was made up of some of the more severe cases anyway. The fact is that autism is tough, it’s tough for every one involved and that takes its toll – this study recognises this and provides some good evidence to back it up. My 3 yr old son is autistic and has daily rages (including hurting himself himself and me) which is very stressful for us both. He has no speech and too many other problems for me to list here. Life is tough for all parents of autistic kids but its not a competition – every one has different tolerence levels to emotional pain. I for one would not say no to some sage advice on how to stop my heart from trying to escape from my body during extremely stressful times and that’s what studies like this one can start to look at (its only when issues are academically assessed and recognised that things start to get done).

#312 Comment By Lynnda On August 25, 2015 @ 12:08 pm

i am writing in response to Catherine’s post of August 11. After many years in and out of hospital my daughter was finially diagnosed with Aspergers. This post described my life. I was recently compelled to resign my job after 13 years when I started being abused and harassed by a new manager. Needless to say, the company stood behind this managers atrocious conduct. To me this feels like nothing more than discrimination. My daughters condition never effected my work performance, and I did not ask for special treatment just a little understanding. Our lives are already so limited, that this just felt like one more loss. I don’t know if the stress is similar to combat having never been in combat, but I do recognize and have experienced some of the symptoms of PTSD.

#313 Comment By Stacey On August 28, 2015 @ 3:31 am

I would like to see one done with those who have children not only with autism spectrum but with other medical issues as well my son has Cystic fibrosis ADHD seziures autism hypothyroidism and VWD my stress is very high he is currently on home iv antibiotics again for a lung infection which hd has a med port for he gets tube feeds and has a stoma as well

#314 Comment By Sue On August 31, 2015 @ 3:48 pm

Tracie, I am the grandmother of a non verbal autistic boy he’s 6 now ,I got him as new born you seem to have gone through what I’m going through, and I’m losing my mind, I have absolutely no one to help me through daily living. Please how did you do it ? anyone tell me how to get through this!

#315 Comment By Robert G On August 31, 2015 @ 11:58 pm

The study results hinge on the quality of the parenting and support available. It would depend on how well the mother understands their Autistic child and make provisions for sensory overload, provides adequate attention but not too much, doesn’t bombard the child with too much structure, therapy, brain damage via quack treatments such as electroshock or mms… And accepts the fact that their child are not “afflicted with” autism like a disease to be eradicated but see the child as a whole and different being; Autism isn’t a processing error– it’s a different operating system; there is nothing “wrong” with them and to have the child think they are lacking would be a stressor for child… Some parents have an easier time than others because they know how to not aggravate the child in ways like this which are counterintuitive. I felt this article is heartfelt and informational, but only tells one side of the story, so as an Autistic adult myself I thought I’d toss my 2 cents in. Have a nice day thanks :)

#316 Comment By Carole On September 1, 2015 @ 4:23 pm

After reading through these various posts, I finally realize, after about fifty years of going through various phases of my daughter’s disability, that parents and caregivers now at least have professionals who can help them. The parent has to be a strong advocate for their son or daughter. When my daughter was born, all I heard from medical professionals that I must not have really wanted my daughter (my fifth child), and that was the reason she was handicapped, etc. This was because doctors and social workers all studied Bruno Bettelheim’s theory that autism was caused by mothers who were stressed and did not want the child. This theory was based on his experience with autistic children from German concentration camps. He claimed to be a psychologist, but later it was discovered that he had invented his academic credentials from Austria. So many parents in my age group suffered emotionally because of him. When we were referred to a new professional, the doctor always cocked his/her head and asked me, “did you really want this child?”‘ blaming the parent for the child’s problems. and so the interview began.

#317 Comment By Julie Rockwell On September 2, 2015 @ 4:27 pm

Why not tap into senior citizen resources to offer more respite care options for families who are raising a child with Autism? I am a retired Special Education teacher with 34 years of teaching experience in Autism and other developmental disabiliteis. I’ve always had a desire to assist families in the home setting; however, I have spent most of my time in the classroom. I am well aware of the stress that families face on a daily basis when raising a child with autism. I also know how difficult it is for the siblings too. The divorce rate has always been high for the parents of my students, and, I believe that the results of your studies are much more conservative than what I have seen. At the beginning of my career, it was the fathers who left. Now it is the mothers leaving first. Often I never meet the natural parents, leaving me to work with grandparents and foster parents of my students. Some of my students had already been in fourteen different foster care settings by age seven. This trend has to be reversed. I want to assist in strengthening families who are faced with daily challenges and need more support.

#318 Comment By Robin On September 3, 2015 @ 11:43 am

I have 4 children and an alcoholic husband who could not accept his son has a disability. My son is now 23 and when he was diagnosed there was little help out there. I was told he would never develop any speech, would not be potty trained and should be put on a list for a group home. With that said, I worked hard trying to find the cure. He went through intensive therapy (Lovaas Therapy), biomedical, etc for years in our home. He was beaten up pretty bad at he age of 4.5 by a teacher’s aide while in the public school system. But with hard work my son now has his driver’s license and his own car. His verbal communication is hindered but he is not in a group home. He has been picked on by many, he was verbally abused on a constant basis by while working at Jewel by a 50+ year old women. Who was doing this to all the individuals with disabilities for years. (Jewel did nothing to stop her). He does have a new job, where his supervisor treats him with little disrespect. So everyday I worry who will pick on my son, will he survive another day unscaved? I am stuck in a marriage because I know my son needs and depends on me and I am unable to get a job because of all the unnecessary problems that pop up so often that need my immediate attention. I have had illnesses which are stressed related. I have memory problems, weight problems, and emotional problems. But all and all I am so very proud of all my children, especially my son with autism. He has been picked on, beaten up, and has never had a best friend, but he is the happiest, most loving, hard working person I know and I love him so much. I read a saying online that said “I raised a child with autism!” “What’s your Super Power?” So to all the Mom’s out there who are stressed and don’t know if they will make it another day. Know that we, the parents of these beautiful children have Superpowers that those other mothers will never understand.

#319 Comment By Wendy B. On September 8, 2015 @ 3:50 pm

…and our Stress is 24/7…365

#320 Comment By ashley On September 10, 2015 @ 2:41 pm

Catherine thank you for your response. I am also raising a son with Aspergers. It has been extremely hard and is a full time job. I was trying to find the words to express this to Teresa, but was at a loss for words. My son will also need my assistance for the rest of his life. Not all people with Aspergers are a genius, its important to understand that. Everyone on the spectrum is completely different. Some are at a lower IQ, cannot function in school or society, and are extremely socially akward.

#321 Comment By Nancy On September 11, 2015 @ 4:36 pm

After reading many of these posts, I could not help but cry. I know there are parents struggling like me, and have met some, but so much of the time I feel very alone. My 26 year old son has been given so many labels in his life, from PPD to high functioning autism to autism with mild MR to intermittent explosive disorder, and so on. Life has very much been difficult and very frightening many times. Please, for those who believe their child’s special needs are worse on them as a parent than any other child with these special needs (including Aspies/HF Autism), do not ever assume until walking in that parents shoes, or knowing their story personally.

#322 Comment By Nancy On September 12, 2015 @ 11:23 am

Sorry, I meant PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder) in my comment of Sept 11, 2015. I think that is pretty much the “umbrella” that so many labels fall under.

#323 Comment By Dominique DeNardo On September 18, 2015 @ 1:28 am

Yes. We need SERVICES. I meet too many people without services, who don’t know their rights, get crumbs from their school district and the child suffers. I meet lots of moms who are each lonely and isolated as they struggle with daily challenges with their child. We moms don’t get many birthday invitations, playdate offers, etc. It’s extremely lonely.

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