Mental Health Aspects of Parents of Child with Autism

By: Dr. Kamlesh Kumar Maurya

Mental health aspects of autismcan be understood in two ways firstly, it can be understood by focusing on the experiences, feelings, difficulties and challenges individuals with autism going through and second aspect is about the families or parents of these individuals. Mental health aspects of parents of autism child are not in focus of research and professional service providers. Parents of autism child/children also suffers a lot in dealing with the individuals related things and other environmental challenges which comes in their way while in the course of parenting and nurturing autism child. Since the occurrence of autism in any individuals is more or less uncontrollable and is a natural outcome, therefore major attention of psychologist and practitioners is on rearing or nurturing part of children having autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and its related challenges. As per the scientific definition autism is a complex development disorder chord of various destructions in shared relationship with social interaction; communication; and restricted, repetitive, and stereotypic patterns of behaviors, activities, responses and interests presented by individuals.

This is not similar to the other developmental deviations like intellectual development impairment; autism describes itself in the form of unusual deviations in developments. The material impairments occur due to neurodevelopmentdisorders which affects the development in the areas of social interaction, communication and other responding behaviors. 

One of the important aspect of understanding this autism is inherent in its scientific name i.e. autism spectrum disorder, here spectrum is stands for difference in affects of ASD individual to individual is different and vary in degree of severity. Spectrum of symptoms has different combinations which vary in range of mild to severe in individuals to individuals.

Living with autism is something challenging and very sensitive matter for both the individuals with autism and the parents involved with them,the difficulties of parents in nurturing these autism children draws the attention. Here our focus is on nurturing part of autism which plays very crucial roles as any medical treatment do.

But in this course of nurturing,parents suffers a lot at both i.e., psychological and physical level. Stress and stigma in these families is very common, specifically in case of mothers of autism irrespective of the varying culture and geographical environments and varied autism children in both age and functional levels. In one of the research done in America it has been found that parents of autism faces unique kinds of stresses. Therefore aspects of mental health of parents having autism child has been discussed in details in this article.

Research in the field of autism tells that autism is a lifelong development disability and thus the existence of autism child in the family seriously influences the whole system of the family. Here we will discuss various opinions of many parents which have been collected through research reports;this will help in more understanding and further help in better, effective and appropriate support systems for both the child and the family members.

Following are the various themes through which we can understand the nature, characteristics’ and uniqueness of each mental health aspects through whichthe parents go through

First and foremost is the grief– By the time of awareness that their children are having some difficulty parents of these children experiences strong feeling of guilt. This felt grief is situational depending upon the various environmental feedback and experiences. Parents’ grief is largely associated with social comparison of their children, inability to control the child’s aberrant behaviors, and many of the parents there is solution of this unfortunate.   

Helplessness to manage and regulate the abnormal behavior– Parents experience the most difficult time when the autism child behaved aberrantly, they need to be anxious for every second because autism child may behave violently at time with known or unknown this situation creates most negative emotional imbalance as many time parents wanting to give up and withdraw.

Emotional stress and strain- During the course of extensive and exhaustive caring for child with autism, parents reported intense negative emotions like unhappiness, distress, denial due to continuous planning, investment of time and money and struggle with social environment.

Total exhaustion– Parents also suffered a lot due to the dysfunctionalsleeping pattern of autism child, due the close supervision need parents found to be suffering from stress, depression, some time exhaustion, cognitive deterioration, and finally uncontrolled behavior at both places work and workplace.  

Adaptation-Parents need to be extra cautious about their other planning’s and home affairs, they need to manage spontaneously for any other task, they need to learn how to recognize and avoid autism children’s triggers and adjusting schedules, during this continuous adaptation stressful process, it felt to them like all family had autism.

Social detachment– Parents of autism child many times try to stay longer at home and disconnect themselves along with their child/children with the social environment in order todeal with the hyperactivity, aberrant, and impulsive behavior of the child/children which in turn affect adversely the social life of the parents which finally results in stressful daily life.   

Stigmatization-Other traumatic stipulation through which autism parents go through is stigma related with negative interaction with social surrounding. This is mostly related with parenting of autism child, it is quite obvious whenever parents trying to restrain the dangerous or out of control behavior of their children people interfere and blame for too physical with their children.

Family life balance- Having autism child in the family, it is quite difficult to manage the couple life, parents faces difficulty of managing the needs of family and martial relationship due the not fixed demands of autism child in family. Chances of role conflict and puzzling parenting responsibility are very common for the couples having ASD child. 

Work-life balance- Another area of concern is balancing the work-life simultaneously with the unconditional management of autism child’s parenting.It is very difficult to maintain the balance between the performance demands at workplace and managing the autism child needs. The working parents go through distress and face parenting distress at the same context.

Based on following parent’s specific mental health difficulties relating with broad theme living with autism, this article is an attempt to understand the stress, traumas and challenges of mental health aspects of autism parents. This article covers wide range of themes across the global level.  Apart from their social, geographical and cultural differences parents of autism found to be on single platform of psychological distress, emotional imbalance and physical challenges while managing the parenting requirements’ of autism child. After qualitative observations of above themes related with struggles of parents of autism child, it can be concluded that mostly all the parents faces emotional strain, family-work balancing related challenges among the most difficult to manage mental health aspects. Further these parents are seeking for supportive services from the medical professionals and a social support environment for their support in parenting and nurturing of autism child. In order to overcome the feelings of personal guilt and deep grief of becoming parents of autism child these parents are hopeful for social supportive environment and professional/educational awareness among the general public regarding the challenges of autism children in adaptation and growth. Parents are also in great need of more supportive and professional services for various activities and behavioral measures. Further these parents are looking for more medical and technological advancement for increasing happiness index of these autism children and for the parent’sspecific health aspects in the course of parenting the autism child.This article will help general population to understand the value of living with autism, parenting demands and individual level contribution in fight with autism challenge the parents goes through. 

Dr. Kamlesh Kumar Maurya
Guest-Faculty Dept of HRD VBS Purvanchal University, Jaunpur

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.