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In addition to dealing with sensory overload, helping a child learn social skills can be difficult for people who struggle with social interactions themselves, for example. But autism can also provide valuable parenting skills, especially with a child who is also on the spectrum. Still, as far as the scientific literature is concerned, these parents might as well not exist.


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The lack of research so far not only offers these parents little support, but also leaves society unprepared for the larger wave of people diagnosed with autism who are just coming of age and may be considering having children. Without enough information or support available to them, these young people may conclude that becoming a parent is just not an option for them. The experiences of Hurley and many other parents who are pioneering what it means to be a parent with autism could temper that worry with hope.

T he idea that a person on the spectrum could be a parent was long considered nearly impossible. At the time, autism was perceived as a severe disorder, usually accompanied by intellectual disability, and the overwhelming emphasis of research was on children with autism. Yet the parents who appeared in that brief paper had characteristics that are now easily recognizable as features of autism: repetitive behaviors such as arm flapping and rocking back and forth, unusual rituals such as arriving exactly 30 minutes late for every engagement, social disinterest, a lack of eye contact.

Ritvo and his colleagues had become interested in these parents because they wanted to show that autism is a physiological condition with an inherited basis — and not, as was widely believed through the s and s, the result of psychological trauma. Family feeling: Both parents are on the spectrum; their daughter Izzie does not seem to be. These observations helped launch the study of autism genetics.

Asperger Syndrome

Meanwhile, the lives of these parents went unexamined. Even now, no one knows what proportion of adults with autism have children, what proportion of their children might end up on the autism spectrum, or how common it is for children with autism to have a parent who also has the condition. The unpublished data capture responses to 89 questions devised with input from women with autism.

They include topics such as pregnancy and childbirth, the social experience of motherhood and the strengths and weaknesses of parents with autism.

Stress and the Autism Parent | Interactive Autism Network

The mothers with autism in the survey were more likely to report prenatal and postnatal depression compared with a group of 91 typical women raising at least one child with autism. For some parents, the prejudice and stigma surrounding autism can have dire consequences. His wife, Karen, is also on the spectrum, as are their three children, who also suffer from chronic ailments such as food intolerances, insomnia and skin conditions.

By mid, with the encouragement of social workers, the younger two children were spending a few days out of the home each week. But in early , the couple learned that child welfare authorities had started efforts to put all three children into full-time, permanent foster care. Finally, in May , the agency dropped its plan. The doctors suggested that the couple wanted their son to be on the spectrum — as if they had Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a psychiatric disorder in which people feign illness in their children in order to draw attention to themselves.

The couple also felt excluded by support groups for parents raising children with autism. In those groups, they sometimes encountered the sentiment that the condition is a tragedy, or a disorder to be cured. They set up a Facebook support group of their own, where talk of cures is discouraged. P arents with autism may face practical challenges borne of their condition. For example, many people with the condition struggle with executive function, the set of complex mental processes that allow people to plan and carry out daily activities.

They also have a tendency to become deeply immersed in what they are doing — to the detriment of other priorities.

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Hurley says in her case, this has made it difficult to meet the logistical demands of raising her children, such as getting them to school on time, and keeping them clean and fed. When her children were younger, she would write out step-by-step lists to help her accomplish daily tasks: Get the bottle ready. Make the food. Give the bottle and the food to the child. Put the plates in the dishwasher. Wipe the table. Check the floor for crumbs. See if the child is clean. Some parents on the spectrum find tasks such as parent-teacher meetings to be draining because social interactions require great cognitive and emotional effort on their part.

Others have problems with auditory processing that make verbal communication difficult. The blunt manner common among people with autism may also lead some parents to cause offense where none is intended. The emotional work of parenting can also be a challenge for people with autism. Taking flight: Gillian Drew is determined to help his daughter explore the world, despite his sensitivities. Hurley foresees herself facing similar difficulties as her children grow older.

Jun 03, Jennifer Davis rated it really liked it.

Raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder

I was recommended this book a while back by one of my son's therapist. My son is currently 8 years old. The therapist recommended this book to me because he thought that my son should be diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome instead. With all my research, I had come to find where the therapist may think this. They do share lots of the same "traits" and I can see where I was recommended this book a while back by one of my son's therapist.

They do share lots of the same "traits" and I can see where some of the things the therapist saw would suggest this. I do like how the book puts both together, because there isn't that much of a difference in the two. I think the title has to do more with the "times". From my understanding, they are now being all combined in a group title of ASD, but with just different stages.

As how will times go by with anything, the titles seem to change etc.

Understanding Asperger’s Syndrome/Disorder – Parent Guide

Like I said, things seem to be changing rapidly here lately with the titles, etc. Anyway, back on point.

It took me a while to read this book. Not that it was bad, but because I knew a lot of the information it was giving. I am always researching, and looking into stuff.


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  • I just couldn't find a doctor that was willing to help me figure out what was going on. Until I found a doctor that was willing to listen to me, I looked up stuff myself. I pretty much knew before I got the diagnosis.

    Asperger’s FAQ

    I found this book very informative, but would be for someone just starting their journey, or one not knowing much about it. I already knew most of the information given in the book. But I would still recommend it as a refresher, or a way to help a teacher, friend, etc understand. The main purpose of this book is to give you an idea of what it is. How it is different for everyone. What is the best way to go about finding out what your child needs. The book is well written and gives great information for those that may not know where and what to do. It also gives references of other books to look into.

    I wish I would have come across this book in the very beginning, it would have saved me from so much frustration from trying to figure it all out on my own. I will say that no one knows your child as well as you do. So there may be things "recommended" that may or may not fit for your child. This does give you are "starting point" but listen to your gut and always pick what is best for your child. I have learned lots from my son. I just read and research for options on things and to try to better understand what is out there to help. But he has been my best guide on this journey.

    A Parent’s Guide To Autism: Understanding & Helping Your Child

    Sep 24, Anna rated it really liked it. I didn't read the whole book. I was looking for specific information that was in the second half of the book. This book would be a great resource for families new to the diagnosis.