From my research, I’ve realized there is one important aspect within each moment of the history of autism – mostly everything the world knows about the disorder came from the efforts of parents advocating for their children. If it wasn’t for a father, so opposed to the claim that parents cause autism, that he devoted his life to understanding the mechanisms and treatment options available for those on the spectrum. A mother who didn’t understand her child’s condition, redefined the definition of autism, changing how medical professionals would diagnose and treat autistic individuals.
So on this last day of Autism Awareness month, I’d like to bring attention
and recognition to the parents of children on the spectrum.
Recent studies on the coping and well-being of parents with autistic children have documented that these parents reported significantly more parenting stress symptoms (such as negative parental self-views and lower satisfaction with the parent-child bond) and more depression symptoms. Additionally, they have more frequent use of Active Avoidance coping – the act of changing one’s behavior to try to avoid thinking or feeling things that are uncomfortable. This actually causes more stress to the parent. These study results reinforce the importance of addressing the well-being of parents of children with ASD.
While the history of autism has been a rocky one, it should serve as a reminder to parents with children on the spectrum that they are the
best allies and advocates for the children.
However, in order to be successful in tackling their child’s diagnosis, parents must remember the importance of addressing their own needs, as well as that of their child’s. There is nothing wrong with taking time for yourself. Whether that involves getting out of the house for a little while, meditating, eating better or simply just talking with other adults or parents with autistic children – it’s not selfish to make your well-being a priority.