Parental Lifestyles Factors in Autism Spectrum Disorder


By: Ms. Kripa Khara

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a word for a group of developmental disorders reported by enduring problems with social communication/interaction, absence of eye contact, repetitive behaviors and/or not wanting any change in daily routines, lining of objects, spinning, rocking, banging on objects symptoms that begin in early childhood, usually in the first 2-3 years of life, symptoms that causes the person to need help frequently.The term “Spectrum” refers to the great selection of symptoms, strengths and levels of impairment that an individual with ASD can have. The diagnosis of ASD now includes these other conditions: Autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified Although ASD begins in early development, it can last in every part of a person’s course of life. The prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder in males 1:42 whereas in females it is around 1:189.

Parenting is itself difficult to define.  After all, nearly everything parents do, whether or not the youngsters are present, could be a part of the overall parenting style. Every parents up bring their children in a different way and at the same time there are a lot of resemblances from one parent to another. Parenting style would mean the combination of strategies that a parent uses in order to raise their children. The four Parenting Styles and its impact are as follows: Authoritarian(child rank lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem ), Authoritative (children are happy , capable and successful), Permissive (children are more likely to experience issues with authoritatively and have a tendency to hold out poorly in schools) and Uninvolved Parenting Style (children tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem and are less proficient than peers). Thus, in one of the study (Dr. Nishi Tripathi, 2015) it was found that Permissive Style of parenting is used more in pre- adolescent children and that mothers tend to use more of this form of parenting than fathers. The Authoritarian parenting style was adopted by the parents when the children had severe form of Autism.Parenting may bea complex activity that has many specific behaviours that work individually and together to influence child outcome. In one of the research done by Noh and his colleagues (1989) have reported that parenting is affected by the child’s inability to adjust to changes in the social environment, child’s behaviour problems such as seeking attention, disobeying, acceptability and demandingness. The parents of these children are usually the primary care giver, and their level of interaction and the ability for them to cope with the problems seen in these children is an important area of concernThus, an autism diagnosis can be perceived as a loss for the family. The parental lifestyles factors in Autism Spectrum Disorder are as follows:-

  • Stressors from an ASD diagnosis can cause a strain on parent’s marital relationship (DeMyer, 1979). The factors that elevated in parents of youngsters with autism like child characteristics, especially behavioural symptoms related to ASD and behavioural problems, lateness and difficulty in obtaining diagnosis, lack of adequate professional support and unsatisfactory relationships between parents.
  • It creates greater parental anxiety and tension.
  • It evenincreases financial burdens within the family.
  • It end in parents socially isolating themselves from others.
  • It produces feelings of grief, stress and confusion. Immediately, with no warning or preparation, the family has got transform and adapt to a new lifestyle.
  • Daily routines become far more complicated.
  • Poor sleep quality and more sleep disruption are found within the parents with ASD(Allik et al., 2006b; DiddenKorzilious, Aperlo, Overloop, & Vries, 2002; Polimeni et al., 2005; Wiggs & Stores, 2001).
  • Family vacations become much harder to plan, and families find themselves not ready to do a number of the items they were once ready to do. Mothers and fathers reports more stress when having a child diagnosed with autism.
  • Siblings are impacted in similar ways as their parents. Siblings may experience worry, anger and embarrassment and have an inability to know the autism diagnosis.
  • Another factor is community . Persons call at the community might not understand or be sensitive to the behaviors which may occur. This also makes parents hesitant to take their kids over to friends or relatives houses because they feel as if they cannot socialize or relate. This sometimes leaves parents experiencing a way of isolation from their friends, family and therefore the community.

The more severe the child’s symptoms, the greater the degree of parental stress.Raising a child with ASD can be more challenging, particularly for the parents who do not have easy access to psychological treatment than those with easy access to psychological treatment. Parents who are presented with a diagnosis for their child are often shell shocked and find it difficult to accept and cope up with the diagnosis. Thus, Psycho-education plays an important role in the management of ASD. Psycho-education is given to the parents so as to reduce stress level in them and accept their child for raising them with special needs (as per the severity) such as safety at home, earning a living. Psycho-education is given to the parents of ASD on how to communicate with their child, developing social relationships for their child as well as fostering independence in their child. The positive perception lead to a better quality of life for the family and scope for boosting the child’s potential. In India, as in many countries parents have led the movement for people with ASD, and through their powerand firmness of purpose, the prospects for children with ASD are continually improving.

Ms. Kripa Khara
Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Counsellor (Nadia, West Bengal)
Kolkata, West Bengal

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