Spotted this status in the autism support group that I’m in and it hits me really, really hard. No. I won’t lie or sugarcoat it for all of you out there. Sometimes, living with a child(ren) with autism can be challenging. And quite a living hell. Yes. In some cases…it does DESTROY marriages and your social relationships and more often than not, you’d see that there are a lot of parents with autistic children out there are actually single parents. And most of these parents keep things to themselves. So…why does this happens? While I am still happily married, I could actually relate to the issue why autism destroy marriages, because I’ve honestly been in that living hell:
1. The stress of raising a child whose milestone is terribly way behind normal children, in terms of social skills and behaviour; children with autism mostly are non verbal. It makes communication impossible, especially for severe ones. Hence… couples started to blame each other for the lack of parenting skill and even will accuse each other for negligence, while in truth, it is almost impossible to raise a child with autism without professional support, early interventions or acceptance of their disorder.
2. When you have a child with autism, your bonding time with your spouse becomes almost zero. Yups. You are reading that right. Children with autism requires 1000% attention and they lacks the need to sleep due to their active neurons activities. In severe cases, some autistic kids just requires 2 hours of sleep daily and practically need to be given melatonin to help them sleep. So…you tell me…it is probably easier to work on your marriage…or just walk out that door and have sex elsewhere? Honestly…although I am a faithful person, I’d say that walking away and having my ‘needs’ serviced outside of marriage would be much easier and kinda ‘stress-free’
3. Family strain caused by your autistic children’s milestone and behaviour. Well…not all family and relatives are educated enough to actually understand that autism is a disorder and not caused by bad parenting skills. This usually caused strain and stressful relationship between couples and their respective families. Another main cause for divorce.
4. Sending autistic kids to babysitter for a mere 1 hour break is impossible unless babysitters are trained in handling autistic children….
I could write a whole book if I were to give you reasons why autism actually destroys your marriage, but at the end of the day…I come to these conclusions:
1. Only cowards walked away from their marriages because of autism.
2. Acceptance and early intervention is the most important step for a much quality life if you are a caregiver to an autistic person. Don’t get caught up on labels…just let the rest of the world call your autistic child retarded or whatever provided you get all the support that you need from those who are in the same shoes as you. Support and tips to handle kids with autism is important for your sanity.
3. Religious beliefs keep you calm. Trust me…religious people will tell you having such a special need child is a gift instead of a curse. I made a mistake of mingling with those who are not religious during the early years and it wrecked my morals terribly and practically demolished my self confidence not only as a mother but as an individual as well.
Now, although there are times I wished I’m dealing with cancer instead of autism as the society in general have much more empathy for cancer patients and make more efforts to understand cancer, I can’t honestly say that all about autism is bad. If it did not teach me much, I can at least say that I have much higher tolerance towards children with disability and unlike many of you out there, I do not judge anyone’s parenting skills nor do I make a point to compare one child with another. If there is anything that this fast moving and competitive world needs….it would be empathy. That is good enough for a kinder world, don’t you think?