Impact of Autism on the Family

By | July 4, 2019

Autism spectrum disorder is not a visible disability. Public, in general, often brands it as “odd” behavior. They assume that an autistic child is just being naughty, or that its parents can’t properly control the child. As a result, many parents don’t take their children to public places. They can’t risk the behavioral difficulties and the subsequent public judgment if their child becomes hyper-active. This often causes not only the autistic child but also his/her siblings to become isolated and housebound. It may have a profound effect on the emotional and social wellbeing of the siblings.

An autistic child may often experience failure in school, work and social situations. It leads to low self-esteem and lack of confidence. In some children, it could lead to depression, high anxiety, and mental health issues. Autistic children are also prone to abuse because of the social deficit. It’s not unusual if their so-called “friends” take advantage of them.

Many people with autism spectrum disorder are misunderstood. Some break laws and commit crimes because of their lack of imagination or social understanding. For instance, they may start following a person, out of obsession. But it’s likely to be mistaken as “stalking”. It’s important that resources are extended to adults with autism spectrum disorder to learn social communication and life skills so as to cope with the society. Sans this support, they may become marginalized and isolated.

Caring for an autistic child or adult, usually involves tremendous physical, financial and emotional strain. Parents feel that they are being constantly judged by the society. They also feel guilty of their child missing out on a “proper” life, and are at a loss about how to help the autistic child. In many families at least one parent can’t work. Worse still, many families break up because of living with an autistic child, which is a big financial burden on them.

Children suffering from autism spectrum disorder often have disturbed sleep patterns. They need continuous supervision which can be physically exhausting. Handling such children during tantrums becomes difficult as they grow up.

Siblings of a child suffering from autism spectrum disorder also undergo a stressful environment at home. They too are unable to socialize and go out as a family. Some of them begin caring for their autistic sibling to help parents. They ignore the strain. But this may have a long-term psychological effect on them. Siblings need time out from their autistic brother or sister and have a life of their own. The same is true for the parents as well. Else, the routine activity of looking after their autistic child, may take a toll on their personal lives.