Being a mother is always a difficult task, cooking, cleaning, taking children to school. Mothers never seem to catch a break. But being a mother of an autistic child is an added responsibility to tackle. Mothers of children with autism have higher levels of parenting-related stress and depression. During the pandemic, it is important to acknowledge and appreciate mothers; so, let us cheer our mothers and give them the recognition they deserve.
How Parenting an Autistic Child Can Affect Mothers
The diagnosis of autism for a child affects and impacts the whole life of their family; Parenting an autistic child can have negative impacts on the psychological state of their family. Caregivers of children with autism face stress that can affect their mental, physical, social, and financial wellbeing. Specifically affecting the mothers’ working and social relationships.
The stress of mothers with autistic children usually results from the difficulty of accepting their child’s diagnosis. They believe they are at fault for their child’s condition. The misconceptions of society concerning autism further contribute to the stress that parents, particularly mothers, feel.
Mothers are often the primary caregiver to their children. The concern and stress of constantly worrying if their autistic child will ever live independently, i.e., go to college, have a career, etc., causes them to bear a heavy burden. Feeling all these negative emotions and the expectations of a woman’s role in society are piled on top of a mother’s many worries. These women are not just mothers of autistic children but people with hopes, dreams, and problems outside the role of a mother.
Mothers who feel they are inadequate or failing their autistic child are likely to suffer from depression. Constantly worrying over the “unknowns” and the “what if’s,” mothers of autistic children can also develop anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety include excessive worrying, insomnia, lack of concentration, and irritability. It makes the parenting experience much more difficult and challenging because they are often drained and do not have enough energy to give their child what they feel they need.
How Stress Can Affect Autistic Children
The severity of autism and the age of the child can affect maternal worry levels. Stress on mothers can affect them in challenging situations; it reduces their ability to respond effectively to their needs and the needs of their children. Feelings of guilt and inadequacy can lead to frustration, anger, irritability, anxiety, and more, especially in families with children at the more severe end of the autism spectrum.
Engaging with a child on the spectrum can be difficult. It requires patience, meeting the needs of a child with autism, and can increase a mother’s stress level, making them easily frustrated. If a mother is struggling mentally, emotionally, or financially it can be hard to nurture an autistic child. When parents have difficulties communicating with their children about their basic needs, most autistic children need help for daily activities and need more supervision than other children. Fortunately, there is help available to ease stress and learn strategies to use with your autistic child.
The Benefits Therapy Associates Can Bring Mothers and Their Child
A beneficial way to ease stress and anxiety between you and your child is to see a therapist. Depending on your child’s needs, they could benefit from speech, occupational, behavioral, or physical therapy. Seeing a therapist can reduce the stress on mothers because of strategies and techniques they can learn, which are beneficial for autistic children. Mothers will see their children learn how to perform self-care skills such as self-feeding, dressing, grooming, etc., and learn how to interact and play with peers. It eases the stress of caring for an autistic child while also giving parents hope that their children can achieve independence.
A speech therapist can improve your child’s communication skills if they are experiencing language issues. Speech therapy does not just focus on articulation; and it also helps children with autism with other kinds of problems with spoken or written language such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, and auditory processing disorder. Speech-Language Pathologists assess which language problem your child is experiencing and determine the best treatment interventions.
Occupational therapy specializes in improving the skills of autistic children to allow them to conduct daily activities at home and school. OT programs also improve play skills as well as help to address sensory issues. Occupational Therapy helps autistic children regulate their sensory input to make them feel more comfortable, secure, and focused.
Children on the spectrum have a hard time communicating with others socially and understanding social cues. They get frustrated or angered easily and can have inappropriate reactions to others. Through positive reinforcement, behavioral therapy can improve social communication, self-care, as well as academic and social living skills while reducing problematic behaviors.
Gross motor coordination and posture control are areas where children on the spectrum often demonstrate difficulties. Physical therapy can treat mild to severe ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) by improving gross motor skills and basic coordination skills. Through intervention and practice, children on the spectrum can learn to play games, sports and participate in physical education with their fellow peers without frustration.
The afore-described therapy techniques can be carried over into the home. Everyday tasks become easier to accomplish, and the fear of your child not performing or achieving basic skills is diminished. Therapists educate parents to understand what and how to do activities with their children to help them successfully achieve goals. The goal of therapy is to improve conversational skills and facilitate independence in children to help maximize function and participation in the community. Stress can be destructive to anyone’s health; therapy can help reduce stress and equip parents and their children with strategies and techniques to participate in activities at home and in the community successfully.
Contact Therapy Associates, LLC for a free screening and additional information on how occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech language pathology can positively impact the life of your child and family.