Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Supporting Families with Autism

Marriage is hard in the first place without adding an autistic child or a child with special needs.  It's been widely known that having a child with Autism can be a marital strain and studies now show that your marriage is not only at risk during the early years of raising a child with Autism, but throughout the child's adolescent years and adulthood.

“There seems to be a prolonged vulnerability for divorce in parents of children with autism,” says Hartley.

“Typically, if couples can survive the early child-rearing years,parenting demands decrease and there is often less strain on the marriage. However, parents of children with autism often continue to live with and experience high parenting demands into their child’s adulthood, and thus marital strain may remain high in these later years.”

The stresses of parenting an autistic child are pretty much the same as that of a typical family, just enhanced.  Finances and paying for therapies, finding time for each other, worrying about your child and the unique stresses of child rearing a child who has special needs.

Many families fall apart. But with the right support system and most importantly a foundation in the Lord a family CAN stay together...and I believe even flourish under their new set of trying circumstances.

Few developmental disabilities appear to be more taxing on parents and there is a great need for support services for families when the child is an adolescent and adult. Providing support for couples to help them work on their marriages is an obvious step. If we can get information and support to these families, we hope to be able to support lasting marriages.”

From the beginning of our journey with Autism we have had such a strong support system.  Many friends and family members who have chipped in in so many different ways to help our family in some of our most trying times.  We couldn't be more thankful for the help that we have received through people truly being the hands and feet of Christ for our family!

But, not everyone has this type of support, even thought they desperately need it.  And they need you to take the initiative...we, like most families, didn't solicit help...it was freely given to us.

What can you do to help out a family that you know??

It's hard to know what you can do to help a family in this situation, but this article from autisable.com lists seven easy peasy ways in which you can help out a family dealing with autism. 
  • Grabbing some groceries on your grocery run
  • Learn the facts about Autism, but refrain from giving advice
  • Take out the sibling of a child with Autism for a special treat
  • Give the parents a date night
  • Offer to help with housework or organization
  • Bring over a cooked meal
  • Ask you high school child to spend some time weekly to play with the child with Autism
 Even something that seems small to you can be a BIG help to families who need it!


Audrey said...

This is really important for your support system to read. Again, thanks for sharing. We love y'all!