The Impact of Autism on Family: Three Themes
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Autism is a developmental disorder which effects approximately 1 in every 68 children. There are unique stressors apparent in raising a child with autism, specifically those of explosive behaviours, lack of socio-emotional reciprocity, repetitive actions, and restrictive interests. In researching the impact of autism on family, there are three key themes which emerge; impact on parental stress, impact on parental mental health, and impact on the family system as a whole. Parents of children with autism have been found to experience more stress in comparison to both parents of typical children and parents of children with other developmental or medical challenges. These parents also exhibit heightened risk of mental health concerns, including depression and anxiety, which is particularly visible in mothers of children with autism. Along with this impact on parents, the family system as a whole is effected by autism in the family, including the marital and sibling subsystems. This information is pertinent to those in the mental health profession, as more support needs to be given to parents and families of children with autism by way of counselling and psychoeducation in order to better the lives of everyone impacted by this lifelong challenge.