Understanding The Diagnosis And Getting Help

The article Understanding The Diagnosis And Getting Help offers a general overview of circumstances that parents and caregivers raising an autistic child may face, and suggests practical ways on how to manage them better.

Understanding The Diagnosis And Getting Help

Withdrawal and overinvolvement

In some families with a disabled child, one parent tends to stay as remote from the situation as possible whereas another's involvement borders on obsession. The withdrawn parent may be just as concerned, but either doesn't have the coping skills or has delegated responsibility to the more involved partner. Generally-but not always-fathers tend to withdraw, and mothers tend to jump in with both feet.

My relationship with my husband is changed due to his (and most males', I'm finding) lack of whatever it takes to deal with this disability.
--Holly, mother of three-year-old Max (diagnosed PDD-NOS and apraxia of speech)

This situation is not healthy for either parent, nor does it really benefit the child. Parents need to keep the lines of communication open, even when job responsibilities and schedule conflicts force one partner to be more directly involved in activities like in-home ABA training, attending school meetings, or talking with doctors.

Set up a time each week to talk about events and, perhaps more importantly, feelings and frustrations. Try to find ways to keep the parent who has a tendency to pull back actively involved. Perhaps that parent can take part in some rambunctious play time while the other fixes dinner, or can take on a special weekend activity, such as Scouting, team sports, or a hobby. The trick is to actually schedule these activities and make sure that they happen. It's a rare pair of parents who are absolutely fifty-fifty in their involvement, but for the sake of their partnership, the most-involved parent needs to know that there will be regularly scheduled break times ahead.

Go to next section of Article: Burnout and respite

Understanding The Diagnosis And Getting Help is an excerpt from Chapter 10 of Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Understanding the Diagnosis and Getting Help by Mitzi Waltz, copyright 2002 by O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. For book orders/information, call (800) 998-9938.

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