Children with autism suffer from various symptoms that present themselves in different degrees. This is one reason why it is called a spectrum disorder. There is a saying, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met ONE person with autism.” This is because the symptoms are so different from person to person and can change over time. This means, you can never predict exactly what symptoms a person will have, or that they will keep those symptoms, since they can vary.
It’s important to remember that the child with this disorder is not the only one affected. When your child is diagnosed with autism, it affects every member of the family. You’ll face new challenges and have even more responsibilities to deal with as your child receives treatments to help manage the symptoms of autism.
Here are five common ways that autism affects families:
- Financial burden – Treating autism can be expensive, especially if your child’s symptoms are severe. Many insurance providers won’t cover therapy sessions and other treatment options for autism. The cost of doctor visits and medication will begin to add up over time, placing a huge financial burden on the parents. In many cases, one parent must stay home to care for the child, which may increase the financial burden even more.
- Emotional problems – Families dealing with autism go through a lot of emotional ups and downs. Some days are good but some of them may be almost unbearable. You may often feel sad, isolated, resentful, frustrated, embarrassed or angry. The emotional rollercoaster can become overwhelming for any family.
- Conflict between parents – Conflict can occur between you and your partner because you deal with the situation in different ways. In addition, you may have little or no time to spend alone with each other and the financial burden makes things even worse.
- Sibling jealousy – Children that have a sibling with autism may feel jealous of the attention their sister or brother receives. They may feel they are being treated unfairly or that you don’t pay enough attention to them. They may also feel some resentment and anger towards their autistic sibling.
- Physical and mental exhaustion – Most parents suffer from both physical and mental exhaustion that makes it difficult for them to stay focused on all of their responsibilities. Depression and anxiety can set in causing even more problems between family members.
Counseling can help families deal with these problems and teach you ways to overcome them. Support groups may also help you deal with some of the emotional ups and downs you go through daily. It helps to know that you’re not alone in your struggles and that many other families are going through the same things. Seeking help from others will help you see past your current situation and give you the hope you need to look towards a bright future for you and your family despite the troubles you now face.