There have been many studies regarding the causes and factors that make up the presentation of autism. The end result was always that autism is a progressive disorder that in and of itself is not curable. We are often touched and empathetic about autistic kids and adolescents – how they look with their various disabilities, their unpredictable moods and behaviors, and their smiles and laughter despite their disorder. But have you ever wondered what it’s like to be their parent? What is a day in the life of an autistic child’s parent? Let us first understand autism – its underlying signs, symptoms, the disorder process as a whole, and how it makes or breaks the life of parents with autistic children. It is important to understand autism as it is more complex than one thinks. For example, a new study in Sweden suggests that people with autism who have average or above-average intelligence quotients (IQs) are more than twice as likely to become addicted to alcohol or other drugs as their peers are.* It is thus important to know where to get help for addiction in such cases.
Autism is a progressive mental disorder that presents during childhood. Today, it is often interchangeably called autism spectrum disorder to describe the various physical and mental challenges and distinct patterns of behavior that autistic children present with. They usually have difficulty communicating and expressing their feelings through words. They also often do things in a repetitive manner, such as door banging, talking to self and body swinging. Some may present with above average IQs and problem-solving abilities and some may have severe difficulties in answering questions and equations. The direct cause of autism is unknown, although researchers have attributed this to faulty genes and environmental factors such as prematurity or exposure to alcohol in the womb.
The Life of the Autistic
The prevalence of autism varies in different countries, but studies show that today there is generally more than one autistic individual in a population of 100. Despite the disorder getting more common, autistic people still present their features and cope with them in a variety of ways. Some of them are able to adjust well in a more socialized environment, while others just can’t stand being with a lot of people and tend to be more anxious. This is why they are also inclined to develop mental health problems; although not everyone will have them.
Amidst the sad reality that autistic individuals will live with their disorder for the rest of their lives, they are capable of learning, some of them learn even more than normal individuals. Given sufficient educational or employment support, autistic people can live harmoniously with the rest of us. It just takes a more understanding school and work environment to give space for their not-so-good days.
The Life of the Parent
Needless to say, it is quite difficult for parents to accept the fate of their autistic child, added to the fact that their children will be living with this disorder for a lifetime. It is a painful truth that parents of autistic children should accept. The more important step to take is to find support for your children, and for you as parents. You should always make time for them as well as for yourself so that you would be able to handle the challenges that both you and your children must face.
If you are in an area where government aid is available, ask for any services that they might offer to assist your child’s disabilities as he goes to school or to his workplace. Reaching out to local support groups and networks of parents and individuals with autistic loved ones would help you greatly in adjusting and taking care of them. If you live in a remote location, you can always find online help through chat groups or one-on-one online therapy sessions. Parents, despite their fear and worry of their autistic children, should be strong, brave and ready to take on the different kind of world that they live in.