|Living with Autism|
Saturday, 01 August 2009 21:05
Stress On Families
Stress - something parents in general are all too familiar with. There is the physical stress from carpools, preparing meals, bathing, homework, shopping and so on. This is compounded by such psychological stressors as parent-child conflicts, not having enough time to complete responsibilities and concern regarding a child's well-being. When a familiy has a child on the autism spectrum, unique stressors are added.
Sources Of Stress
Deficits and Behaviors Of Autism - An individual with autism may not express the basic wants or needs in a manner that we would expect. Therefore, parents are left playing a guessing game. When a parent cannot determine their child's needs, both are left feeling frustrated. The child's frustration can lead to aggressive or self-injurious behaviors that threaten their safety and the safety of other family members. If a child has deficits in social skills, such as the lack of appropriate play, stress may be increased for families; individuals lacking appropriate leisure skills often require constant structure of their time, a task not feasible to accomplish in the home environment.
Concerns Over Future Caregiving - One of the most significant sources of stress is the concern regarding future caregiving. Parents know that they provide their child with exceptional care. They fear that no one will take care of their child like they do. There may also be no other family members willing or capable or accomplishing this task. Even though parents try to fight off thinking about the future, these thoughts and worries are still continually present.
Finances - Having a child on the autism spectrum can drain a family's resources due to expenses such as evaluations, home programs, and various therapies. The caregiving demands of raising a child with autism may lead one parent to give up his or her job, yet financial strains may be exacerbated by only having one income to support all of the families' needs.
Feelings of Grief- Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder are grieving the loss of the "typical" child that they expected to have. In addition, parents are grieving the loss of lifestyle that they expected for themselves and their family. The feelings of grief that parents experience can be an additional source of stress due to its ongoing nature. Current theories of grief suggest that parents of children with developmental disabilities experience episodes of grief throughout the life cycle as different events (e.g. birthdays, holidays, unending caregiving) trigger grief reactions (Worthington, 1994). Experiencing "chronic sorrow" is a psychological stressor that can be frustrating, confusing and depressing.