Pledge to Support Parents of Children with Autism
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Sponsor: The Autism Site
Pledge to remind yourself and parents of children with autism that we're all in this together!
Parents of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder understand the hard work, time, and love it takes to give their child a fulfilling life day in and day out. But with this time, also takes a lot of energy and patience, wearing many parents thin, and leading them to feel they are fighting the battle against autism alone.
It is a challenge to care for individuals with complex needs while navigating multiple service sectors throughout life. Parents not only have to manage their child's behavior and balance the associated stress, but oversee the well-being of the rest of their family, too1.
Parents can find it difficult when their child demonstrates unusual behaviors in public. If parents feel stressed and unable to cope, their own health can be at risk.
Parents of children with autism often report higher levels of depression, anxiety, and mental health-related issues2.
In a study published in the Chinese Journal of Contemporary Pediatrics, fathers and mothers of autistic children were significantly more at risk of suffering from obsessive-compulsive symptoms, depression, anxiety and paranoia than the parents of neurotypical children3.
A number of parents report struggle accessing diagnoses and services for their child, as well frustration with health care providers' knowledge of ASD and lack of communication. Moreover, the risks parents experience as they care for their child with ASD far outweigh the protective factors for self-management of parental stress4.
We need to remind ourselves as autism supporters and parents of children with autism that we have an important responsibility! Not only do we need to care for our children but we need to care for ourselves. We need to remember that what we do is possible when our own physical and psychological needs are met as well.
- Marsha Mailick Seltzer, Paul Shattuck, Leonard Abbeduto, Jan S Greenberg, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research (2004), "Trajectory of development in adolescents and adults with autism."
- Jonathan A Weiss, Aranda Wingsiong, and Yona Lunsky, Autism (November 2014)"Defining crisis in families of individuals with autism spectrum disorders."
- Zhongguo Dang dai er ke za zhi, Chinese Journal of Contemporary Pediatrics, (1 December 2010), "Mental health state of parents of children with autism."
- Susan A Bonis, Kathleen J Sawin, Journal of Pediatric Nursing (13 September 2016), "Risks and Protective Factors for Stress Self-Management in Parents of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Integrated Review of the Literature."
We must remember our own well-being, to keep ourselves and our families healthy so we're able to produce the best way of life for our children. Make a pledge to your family to live a balanced life!
I pledge to...
- Do something active with my spouse, and talk about anything but the kids
- Make some time for myself every day, no exceptions
- Find a mentor or a helper who can relate to my child
- Designate a special day to do exactly what my child with autism wants to do — even if it means visiting my local auto parts store!
- Reach out to other parents with newly diagnosed children — give them encouragement from my experiences