Moms of autistic kids stressed but resilient
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Mothers of children with autism tend to report higher stress levels and poorer mental health than other moms, yet they seem to have "remarkable" strength and cope well with their autistic child, according to a new study.
Using data from a national survey on child health, researchers found that mothers of autistic children were more likely than other mothers to rate their mental and emotional health as "fair" or "poor."
On the other hand, they were generally more confident in their parenting skills and more likely to say they had a close relationship with their child. And there was no evidence that raising a child with autism increased tension within families.
The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, are good news for parents and children, said study co-author Dr. Guillermo Montes of the Children's Institute in Rochester, New York.
Raising a child with autism is challenging and stressful, he told Reuters Health, but it's also reassuring to find that mothers are doing well in many ways.
It's possible, Montes noted, that mothers of autistic children have something to teach the rest of us about maintaining a good parent-child relationship in the face of serious challenges.
Autism is a developmental brain disorder that impairs, to varying degrees, a child's ability to communicate, interact socially and form relationships.
Some past studies have suggested that parents of autistic children have more marital strain and often feel they lack emotional support. However, many of those studies involved families seen at specialty clinics or who belonged to autism societies, which means they may not be representative of all families affected by autism.
So Montes and colleague Dr. Jill S. Halterman used data from a nationally representative survey that included mothers of 61,772 children ages 4 to 17. Of these, 364 had autism.
Overall, mothers of autistic children were more than twice as likely to say their mental and emotional health was fair or poor — 17 percent, versus 7 percent of other women.
However, these mothers also showed "some remarkable strengths," according to Montes and Halterman. In particular, they were more likely than other women to say they had a very close relationship with their child, and that they were coping well with the demands of parenting.
Mothers of children with autism were also less likely to say they got angry at their child, and they were similar to other mothers in how they dealt with family disagreements.
"Perhaps there is something mothers of children with autism can teach us about how to maintain relationships with children in the context of high stress and poor social skills," Montes added.
By Amy Norton, Reuters
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
May I interject a big, fat DUH here? Are the results of the survey really surprising? Other than The Duh Factor, I think this is a great article. I say this to you as I listen to my Aspie Kiddo make a throaty "wwaaaaaaahhhhhhh" shrieking sound from the depths of Demon World, and then use a soft voice like she's talking to a baby just to hear the difference in sounds, making a pattern of noises with her voice. The sound that makes me want to claw my eyes out with a dull spoon when she's using the noise in a Tantrum Of Royal Proportions. The one that could quite likely be used in a horror flick as the demon voice coming out of a possessed psychotherapy patient.