In a new study out in the July issue of “Autism,” researchers from the University of Washington reported that parents of children with autism experienced more stress from the behavioral challenges rather than the stress of daily care taking of their child when compared to mothers of children with developmental delays other than autism.
The study’s author, Annette Estes, a research assistant professor of psychology, was quoted in Forbes as saying, “Mothers of children with autism reported more parent-related stress and psychological distress.” “I think that parents of kids with autism are resilient in many ways and it’s not the hard work of daily living that causes the stress. The think what’s most difficult for parents are the problem behaviors.”
The study compared two groups of moms—one, parents of preschool children with autism and the other, parents of children with other developmental delays.
The fact that moms of children with autism experienced greater stress dealing with their child’s challenging behaviors such as irritability, agitation, crying, or hyperactivity, is useful information to us as therapists and parents in planning a child’s therapy program.
Perhaps as we are planning an early intervention program for a child we are working with on the autism spectrum, we should prioritize working on challenging behaviors, thus decreasing parental stress, allowing parents who are already doing an incredible job, to be even more available to help their child.
Since this research is current, several news sources wrote about it. To hear from other parents experiencing the same challenges or get an idea of who parents feel raising a child with autism, just read the comments after there was a blog on this topic in the New York Times.
How do you feel about this current research findings?