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The relationship between a child and a parent is beautifu. But at times, even if the child is physically and mentally fit, it can be highly stressful. Albeit, having a differently-abled child, especially someone who has autistic behavior, could be even more stressful, and would have a huge impact on the mental health of the caregivers or parents.
Along with the person with autism, there are chances that the emotional and mental state of the guardians/caretakers is also adversely affected. It might get hard for them at times to manage the child’s behavior, finance the treatment, manage work, do the household chores and take care of the child with autism. Parents and caregivers may feel overwhelmed with the challenge, but as time goes on, most of them learn to cope and adjust to the situations.
How do caregivers of children with autism get affected?
Families with children who have autism might have an indirect impact on their physical health along with their mental health. Dealing with anxiety, depression, and much more takes a toll on the physical health of the caregiver and parents. Being stressed can lead to lowered immunity and less sleep, which would cause difficulty in concentrating on a particular thing or memory impairment. It could even lead to other health complications.
Also, read: Look for these signs to know if your child has autism
Dealing with an autistic child is an emotional roller coaster throughout life. Mothers of kids on the autism spectrum mostly have poor mental health. Parents and caregivers often feel overwhelmed and guilty for something that they did which caused the challenge for their child. They often feel isolated from the society as the way society sees their autism-affected child, taunts, and comments on the family. In fact, the fake sympathy that people try to show might affect them emotionally. There are also chances that the caregiver or parent might feel embarrassed with the behavior of the kid in the public.
The treatment and consulting charges for a person with autism can be enormous. Hence, the family of an autism-affected child might have to go through a lot of financial problems. Most private insurance plans do not cover the expenses related to the therapy and the treatments for autism, and even the visits and the medicines are costly. The families tend to get into huge financial debts, which might affect the mental health of a caregiver.
Ways to reduce the overall impact on the caregiver or parent
- Therapies and counseling: Caregivers with an autistic child can attend counseling sessions, as it helps in dealing with emotions, and family counseling can help in bridging out the communication gap between the caregivers. Medicines can be helpful as short-term remedies for the ones dealing with anxiety or depression.
- Being a part of support groups: There are small groups that help in supporting the caregivers to deal with children who have autism. Being a part of these groups eases the inner fear of being isolated, and increases the acceptance and understanding of the disorder.
- Accept help when offered: It is often observed that families who have a child with any disorder tend to isolate themselves, and if anyone tries to lend their hands they might feel it might be to offer fake sympathy. Accepting help and seeking help, whenever necessary, will never make anyone feel bad. Instead, it just helps in breaking the barrier and helps one make a better caregiver to the child.
There are a variety of challenges connected to parenting a child with autistic behavior. But do not forget, the disorder also has many positive effects on the family, one just needs to see the condition in a much broader light. Seeing the child make small progress in the challenges just brings a smile to the child’s face, which also builds the confidence in the caregiver and the family too.
Working as a team can strengthen the bond between the family as well. The main motive should be that one needs to take care of themselves and the child that is dependent on them.