When two parents are given the task to raise an autistic child, the family embarks on a journey filled with a multitude of obstacles that ultimately allows one Of two paths: a path Of destruction or a path Of unification. Examining the effect of autism on the family dynamic begins with those who conceived the child themselves: the parents. Through extensive research it has been gathered that there are many factors that play in raising an autistic child. These factors require virtues such has determination and most importantly, a mutual love for the child, and consequently a deeper love for the spouse.
There is a special bond that accompanies parenthood. However, being the parent of an autistic comes with many difficulties that can ultimately create an unbearable tension between couples. With a divorce rate around 80%, raising an autistic child clearly can take its toll on a marriage. The challenges of raising the adolescent can cause unique arguments about what to do with treatment, medication, and childcare. In any marriage, it has been said that the main topic of fights is money. The extra cost of raising an autistic child goes beyond just the dollar sign, however.
According to a study by scientist David E. Gray, the relationship between the couple may be strained because one of the two must stay home to care for the child. “The financial implications of having to care for a sizable child are considerable, and, in addition to this, it is often impossible for mothers to go out to work because of the need to look after the child. Financial strains can add greatly to the other burdens on families” (Howling). Gray found that in most cases the women would either quit their jobs or at the most do very minimal work from the home.
This may cause some underlying tension because the individual may feel as though they have sacrificed their own aspirations while the other continues with everyday life. Because the women tend to be the primary caretakers, Gray speculates that here is a “tendency for mothers to accept more responsibility for their child’s” condition (Gray). One of the main arguments that may occur between the parents of an autistic is the process of finding and obtaining the right medication for the child.
All in all, medication is a positive tool that can significantly improve the behavior and mood of the afflicted, and in effect, make the family’s lives easier. The right medication can help to soothe anxiety in the child. The means of achieving the right medication is not exactly an easy process, however. Autistics go through many stages from youth to adolescence to adulthood. As growth comes, so does a shift in prescriptions according to individual’s condition. For this reason, there is a need for consistent experimentation with the medicine.
The right prescription can lessen violent outbursts or just call for a more cheerful individual in general. However, just like everything else in life, it comes with a cost. Medication has the potential to pull the family apart due to the heavy finical burden that accompanies it. Consider, for example, a family with a low income and no health insurance. On top of the families other basic needs, the cost of daily declined builds up fast. The “financial strains can add greatly to the other burdens on families, there by increasing the risk of difficulties” and tear the families apart (Howling).
Suddenly the question rises, is the family willing to sacrifice other aspects of life in the hopes of providing medication to one of its members? The answer will vary with the individual’s personal vale uses and beliefs. It is possible that paying for medication is simply not an option for the family. This can really take a toll on the family. And So, medication has become a positive tool that has had a negative effect on the family structure. Similarly, education has a positive connotation as well as the potential for a negative outcome. Every child’s symptoms are different, so the right education plan varies accordingly. It is important to make appropriate decisions about the educational provision for a child from the start as there is a tendency towards status quo. ” For some, private schooling is the most beneficial option. Others see mainstream schooling as a better fit. One thing that can be agreed upon is ‘that whatever the educational provision, teachers should have adequate autism-specific training” (Sandal-Snaps). Sending the hill to school gives the parents a chance to go to work during the day and focus on other aspects Of daily life. Most importantly, it can improve the condition of the child and provide hope for the family.
There are also multiple obstacles to educating an autistic. It can be a major struggle to find the right school because for some families, there are very few or even no options. For example, a family from Haiti or a third world country may not have access to adequate educational systems for children with disabilities. This brings up another downside of educating the autistic: money. On top of dedication, treatment, and all the costs of raising a child, adding on special education services can put some families financially over the edge. It is yet another finical burden that can cause arguments and tension within a household.
Also, the means of transportation can become a problem because if the child is in a specialized school apart from the other children in the family, it can become a scheduling difficulty. Theses are all sacrifices the family must decide whether or not to make in the hopes Of bettering the life of their child. ‘ ‘There is also a need for dialogue between parents and repressions to work out what’s best for the child” (Sandal-Snaps). Education is one specific means of helping the child grow intellectually, but improving the child’s social skills is also beneficial. Antisocial behavior is often a symptom of Autism.
This aspect of the condition can potentially be the most difficult symptom to deal with. “Although problems with language, for example, are a common characteristic of the disorder, more troublesome symptoms such as tantrums, self destructive acts and other forms of inappropriate public behavior are also frequently associated with it” (Gray). Families can better the life of the child as well as their own lives by working together to instill good manners from a young age. Familial interactions are also vital in the hopes to improve the individual’s social skills.
In order to make these improvements every member of the family must cooperate which requires a significant amount of perseverance and hard work. Just like other aspects of life, there are rewards to hard work. The potential triumph of achieving verbal communication is extremely rewarding. When everyone has the same goal, success can create a powerful bond within the family. There is also a great chance that the path to success can only lead to a path of destruction. Poor social skills put a strain On the rest Of the family because it is difficult to connect to the autistic individual.
Often times verbal communication is nonexistent, so the family must adapt new means of communication in order to understand the child. Suddenly subtle body postures and facial expressions become the key to understanding the individual. Everyday activities such as using the restroom and ordering food at a restaurant are major struggles for those with autism because many are nonverbal and have o means to vocally express their needs and wants. These simple tasks can build up to create major frustrations for the family of the individual.
Going out in public can become such a challenge that the family falls apart. One of the “most unpleasant aspects of a difficult public encounter [is] the way in which” the parent’s “abilities are seemingly doubted. ” Another reason public encounters put such a strain on the parents of autistics is “the discrepancy between the normal appearance of the autistic individual and the reality of his or her disability. ” This discrepancy often calls for unwelcome criticism room strangers, which can result in the couple taking it out on each other (Gray).
Not only does it affect the parents, but the siblings of the afflicted individual also endure many hardships. The siblings of autistic individuals encounter difficulties from learning disabilities to issues making friends, but there are also positive sides that can come from growing up alongside an autistic child. For example, studies have found “that, as a group, siblings of autistic and mentally impaired children [are] significantly less hostile, less embarrassed, more accepting and more supportive than siblings of normal hillier. Often times, by the time the sibling matures, it has been shown “that, far from being harmed by their experiences, siblings Of impaired children are often remarkably well-adjusted, and frequently show greater maturity and responsibility than their peers” (Howling). According to the study discussed earlier conducted by David E. Gray, “many parents felt that the experience matured their other children and gave them an understanding of disabled people that they normally would not have had. Still, “most of the same parents felt that their other children paid a high price for their siblings illness” (Gray). Not all cases end with a more mature, accepting sibling. There are many hardships the individual encounters along with the everyday struggles of growing up in a “normal” family. It is common in any family for there to be “feelings of resentment and jealousy experienced by children on the birth of a younger child. Such emotional turmoil is often manifested by an increase in problem behaviors, temper-tantrums and rituals, and by regression in sleeping, toileting and self-help skills. It has been found in certain studies that many children with autistic siblings suffer from learning problems. It is tot clear whether this is directly related to the autistic condition in the family or rather related to the stresses of living with an impaired individual. “Rates of language-related problems, such as early speech delays, or later reading and spelling problems, are significantly higher in the siblings Of autistic siblings than in other families. ” There are many other difficulties in normal siblings such as guilt and fear.
Many feel as though that in some way, they are responsible for their siblings condition. Also, there is the guilt of living his or her normal life while another individual who shares the same blood cannot unction in a normal way. Other difficulties reported in siblings of the autistic are “identity problems” because “the normal child perhaps [harbors] secret fears that he or she, too might be affected in some way. ” Siblings may also show behavioral problems that stem from feeling neglected in a certain way as a young child.
Autism calls for specific attention from the parents, which can spur resentment in the sibling because he or she may feel left out or less important. Beyond that, the sibling may deal with a significant amount of bullying growing up. Having friends over becomes a struggle because other hillier may not understand the situation. This occurs in phases. Many siblings of autistics have reported that the early years of adolescence, it is difficult to make new friends because other children at those ages are not yet mature enough handle the situation.
As the sibling ages, depending on the people they are surrounded by, it may become easier to make new friends. At the age where all an adolescent wants is to fit in, the autistic sibling is a reminder that the family is different. This can cause hatred in the family and more trouble for the parents (Howling). It is also a common fear in the siblings f autistic children to feel as though marriage is not a possibility. The same feeling of responsibility for the sibling’s condition causes an irrational fear that no one will marry an individual with an advanced possibility to have affected children.
This fear may linger for long enough to cause depression or anxiety in the individual. Raising a child with autism requires tremendous strength and virtue. The effect it can have on a family is potentially detrimental because of the stresses it entails. Society often makes the situation more difficult by failing to understand the implications of the condition or even rash judging the family. These judgments often lead to anxiety in the siblings as well as tension between the parents that can tear the family apart.
For example, “Compared with Downs syndrome and other forms of mental retardation, the normal physical appearance of autistic children and the relative lack of public knowledge of the disorder mean that parents with autistic children may be more likely to experience hostile public reaction to their child’s inappropriate behavior’ (Gray). The lack of public knowledge about Autism makes the lives of the autistic individual and the individual’s family even more difficult. Certain measures can be taken to achieve a more fulfilled life.