Effects of an Autism Diagnosis
Autism is a lifelong neurological disorder. For families to realize that the member with autism won’t be the child that they envisioned can be a devastating discovery. Like many other disabilities, autism takes a period of time to get used to. Parents also have to adjust their aspirations for their children with autism. Realizing that your child may never go into the profession you had hoped for, or not even be able to go to college can be very difficult.
This is not to portray a hopeless portrait of life with autism, but rather the worries and uncertainties that face families upon diagnosis. Later we will cover some of the exciting outcomes available through treatments and research. Due to the pervasive nature of autism, most aspects of a family’s life are touched. For instance, a person with autism is almost oblivious to social nuances such as waiting in line patiently, talking at an appropriate volume, or respecting others personal space. Public excursions can be stressful and embarrassing due to the lack of knowledge people have about autism, combined with the seemingly unexplainable behaviors associated with it.
Hand flapping, screaming, and tantrums are all examples of behaviors that can draw unwanted attention at the supermarket, doctor’s office, library, etc. The stress of rude comments combined with the energy it takes to go on trips such as these often result in the individual with autism being left alone at home with a relative or sitter. The little stresses such as these are also a source of frustration and depression for families.
With all of the therapies, appointments, and social situation restrictions, the family’s routines and schedules will most likely alter to fit the needs of the individual with autism. This can cause resentment as well as additional stress. Considering all this, neurotypical siblings will have trouble adjusting to their new roles within the family, often feeling left out, and resentful. Parents need to find ways to include their other children in activities to help them understand why the child with autism receives more attention. At the same time, parents need to make time to spend on non-autism related activities with their other children.
Personal relationships are also apt to be neglected in the pursuit of treating autism. Fighting over chores, money, childcare, housekeeping, etc. will wear heavily on a relationship. Clearly finding a sustainable balance of time, money, and other resources is necessary to maintain a healthy family. Social supports, such as government funding, parent support groups, sibling support groups, and care services are all great ways to balance responsibilities. It should be noted that relying on others for help can also be a point of contention. Self reliant families may take more time to adjust to accepting and benefiting from these programs.