Impact on family • Autyzm - Stowarzyszenie Pomocy Osobom Autystycznym

 Impact on family 

Autism and all the indispositions connected with it is also or maybe most of all the suffering of the caretakers of the autistic person. Autism causes protracted and long-drawn-out burden to parents. Children with autism especially frequently evince a great degree of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, sleep disorder, eating disorder, they are often aggressive or self aggressive, which is difficult to bring under control. The problems of autistic families are not usually visible or manifested , they are unrevealed to others. Without any support, the families become unable to look after a child or to function economically.

Lack of possibility to rest

One of mothers stated that she has had her holidays only once for twelve years. Unfortunately, the problems do not lessen together with the age of a child – just the contrary – they often only change into another shape. Many parents have difficulties with finding  help to a child. Because of that especially mothers do not have time to get away of problems concerning their autistic children, they can not give oneself up to career, a book, personal interests or a household.

Mental and physical health of parents

Almost all mothers signal that their health (mental and physical) is in bad condition, which is due to having an autistic child. It is worth stressing the fact that parents who suffer from different diseases ascribe them to stress, which is present in their everyday life. The type of stress depends on the period of child’s life.

   1. Pre-school period

If in this phase of child’s life parents receive the information concerning biological conditions of autism (which happens very seldom) they will have less feelings of guilt for having an autistic child. The parents of autistic children who are in this age group talk about chronic tiredness, which results from a constantly focused attention on the child’s needs. Some mothers are afraid of their children’s lives as their children do not know what danger is. The parents also suffer because their children cannot say that they are ill or feel pain. Some children seem not to recognize their parents who often put a great deal of effort in order to establish a normal contact with their child, but they feel rejected by them.

   2. School period

In this period parents become aware of the social impairment of their children because they do not have friends and cannot play with other children. Their strange behavior makes it  more difficult to be tolerated by others than they used to be.

   3. Adolescence period

In adolescence period of an autistic child parents become aware that their child is handicapped for all his or her life and the hope for leading a normal existence gives a way to anxiety of who is going to take care of their children after parents’ death. Such becoming aware of the situation and lack of suitable structure in welfare benefit for autistic youth often becomes the main source of stress. The parents who know that their children can make great developmental progress if they participate in individual therapy programs suffer the most. The helplessness of parents who cannot receive help that would cater for the needs of their children is a great disaster.

Relation problems

Life with an autistic child is a great challenge for the relatives, the disability of children has a huge influence on marriage relation of the parents. Some people think that having an autistic child strengthens relations but other people claim that it becomes a reason for conflicts in marriage. If the parents do not learn to help one another from the beginning, their marital life may be seriously endangered. Overloading one of the parents with duties is often an additional factor of bringing on conflicts.

The need for maximal attention to an autistic child makes other children suffer from not being paid enough attention to. It happens that siblings do not have enough courage to invite their friends home because of tactless remarks they often have to listen to on their autistic brother or sister. However, many parents believe that their healthy children benefit since they learn the right attitude towards the handicapped and the ones who need help.

Half of the families experience serious difficulties in relations with friends and neighbours. Families who have an autistic child are rarely invited and they themselves invite guests less frequently because of the child. Another difficulty concerns critical opinions about the upbringing methods. Parents listen to constant lectures on how they should force the child to play or speak. Parents are blamed for not being able to bring up the child.

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