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Coping with Autism – part 2


Read part 1 here.

autistic children

Source: Google images

In my last blog, I wrote about Autism and discussed its features with respect to a case study. We also looked at what can be done to help a child who has Autism. Autism by itself is a very vast topic and a single blog cannot do justice to understanding this complex condition. Moreover, after the last blog, quite a few of you readers had raised some questions and offered feedbacks on things which were not addressed then. So, this time I will once again discuss autism and touch upon points previously left unaddressed.

This month, I will consider a very crucial person, “the parent”, who is often at the receiving end if their child is diagnosed with Autism. As a parent, discovering that your child has Autism can be very daunting. With the diagnosis, comes along several challenges which are often ignored and which eventually take their toll.

First and foremost, there is a tendency of self-blame. “What did I do that led to this?”, “How could I be so careless?” etc. Parents often feel embarrassed, thus shy away from their social circle, eventually leading an isolated life. They do not talk about it to their loved ones because of the fear of being ridiculed. Often, parents avoid seeking professional help, because of the misconception that they will be blamed for their child’s condition. Behaviour of this kind keeps fuelling a cycle of unhealthy emotions and behaviours, the result often being that the child in question is ignored and help does not reach the child on time.

Many a times, family and friends shy away, neighbours stop sending their children over to play, thus leading to an isolated life not only for the child but also for the parents. A child with autism often has no peer group, which could also mean an absence of social circle for the parents. Often, the parents become the only source of human contact for the child, and this leads to the parents leading a peerless life themselves.

Marital difficulties can be a major challenge for parents who share a child with autism. With much of their attention diverted toward the child’s need, the parents often lose out on their couple time. In such cases, it becomes all the more important that the couple come up with time management strategies that provide them with enough opportunity to spend quality time together.

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Shobhika Jaju is a NET qualified psychologist who would love to be reborn as a shrink every single time. She is the founder of Silver Linings: Guidance & Counselling Centre, in South Goa, & hence is effectively putting her love for psychotherapy & her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology to good use. Shobhika also works at Little’s School, Fatorda (Goa) & writes for several print and online media on a regular basis. She facilitates workshops on topics promoting personal enhancement & spreading mental health awareness. She is affiliated to the American Psychological Association, Bombay Psychological Association, Goa Psychological Association & the Movement for Global Mental Health. Her website can be accessed at silverliningsgoa.com.


4 thoughts on “Coping with Autism – part 2

  1. krishna

    Very well explained Shobika.I have always felt that acceptance and wholehearted effort breaks every limitation a person can have.A shift from feeling helpless to being empowered changes so much.I really hope that the coming years see more support groups and inclusive lifestyles everywhere.

    Reply
    1. shobhika

      Hello Krishna,

      I feel very positive that in the coming years awareness about autism and related conditions will only improve. There is a lot of work happening in this field and the future in very bright. ;)

      Reply
    2. shobhika

      Hello Dr. Shenoy

      You have rightly pointed out that parents need a great deal of counselling to come to terms with the diagnosis of Autism. That is why, it is imperative that test results and the diagnosis be communicated with a lot of sensitivity. I usually explain about the condition and its various manifestations before going on to communicating the diagnosis to the concerned people and it does help.

      Reply
  2. Dr Sulata Shenoy

    To hear a diagnosis of autism can be devastating to any parent. Typically, the parent goes through the stages of denial, blame, guilt and anger/depression. The question of ‘Why me?’ or ‘Why my child’ may haunt the parent for a long time. As much as the child needs therapies, the parents too need counseling in coming to terms with the situation and help in developing a positive and proactive outlook which will help the child improve.

    Reply

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