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Friday, July 23, 2010

Parental Stress

"I wish I could convey to you what it is like to raise a child on the [autism] spectrum who is escaping the house," Mara LaViola, whose son has autism, told WFAA Dallas. "You find them on top of your kitchen cabinets. Breaking things. Throwing things. Most of the time it's because they're trying to communicate and they're not able to."

But the parents are offering no excuses for Saiqa Akhter, 30, who allegedly dealt with that stress by killing her 5-year-old son, Zain, and her 2-year-old daughter, Faryaal.

"Children are not appliances that come with warranties and guarantees," [Kim] Stagliano wrote on her Age of Autism blog Wednesday afternoon. "Some have autism." But the Fairfield, County, Ct. mom said she's able to cope because she has a great support network that she can talk to. "I assume this woman in Dallas did not have any support network," she said. "It can be really lonely."
CNN adds:
Several research studies have found that mothers of children with autism have higher levels of psychological and parenting-related distress than other moms of children with developmental delays.

It can be overwhelming, said Marguerite Colston, vice president of the Autism Society, which has local chapters throughout the country.

"Once you get a diagnosis, you can't be a parent, you have to be a case manger, an education specialist," she said. "You've got to figure out the medical system. It's overwhelming to think I have to advocate and navigate the system. The level of stress is terrifying."

"Our nation doesn't have the system to support the parents. The services are not there to match the needs."


The pressure is not limited to minority communities, as parents of children with autism experience anxiety and depression regardless of their socioeconomic group or race, said Dr. Wendy Stone, director of the University of Washington Autism Center in Seattle.

"Parents who have less access to information, resources or to a community of parents who have similar experiences or needs are clearly going to have a more difficult time managing both their child and their own health," she said.