Every couple dreams of having a little angel of their own. They have imagined how they would be like parenting a baby. Some are too excited they even prepared a nursery in the house right before they are pregnant. It is because having to create a new life out of love is the most fantastic feeling in the world, to see a little human walking and running around the house who has the parents’ eyes and lips. It is indeed priceless!
Not everyone knows what mothers pray for when they are pregnant. Yes, they pray for this and that, but more than anything else, they pray that their baby would be healthy.
For Sarah Swenson, LMHC, “Parenting is not for the faint of heart, however; challenges will most certainly arise. The easiest way to think of this is that your child is a young person who needs you to be the adult so that he or she is free to be the child. It is safety and security that give your child the opportunity to learn, make mistakes, and grow. You provide this best by understanding the developmental phase of your child at any particular age.”
But what if all the nine months of waiting and the traumatic hours at the delivery room turned into something parents weren’t expecting? What if after a few months, they start to notice something odd about their infant? What if their baby gets diagnosed with autism? How will it affect their marriage?
Stages Of Acceptance:
- Parents will start to question how it happened. They may ask their doctor how it is possible and if there is something they can do to reverse the condition of their baby. Unfortunately, there is none. However, Ted Hutman, a licensed clinical psychologist, assures that, “While it is true that ASD is not something a person simply “grows out of,” there are many treatments that can help children acquire new skills and overcome a wide variety of developmental challenges.”
- The mothers are usually the ones blamed for the cause of autism, but the exact cause of autism is still unknown. Experts believe that it has something to do with genes and environmental factors like being exposed to toxic chemicals during pregnancy of the mother.
- At first, there is a significant adjustment as parents dealing with autism will have to learn to parent differently. There is more to learn than the traditional care of a baby. Parents could only consult the care team of their child because asking other parents with the same condition is somewhat awkward unless they are close friends. “The autism diagnosis itself is often traumatic for parents,” says Janeen Herskovitz, LMHC. “It can be a grueling process that may take up to a year or more, with multiple visits to several different professionals. During the process, parents are typically faced with myriad feelings, including anxiety, guilt, excessive worry, hope, and fear about the future.”
- As time passes by, parents may get used to the unique condition of their child and love him no matter what. They will realize that it makes no difference whether their child has autism or not. They only have to double their patience and understanding of the situation, but the love remains the same.
- When parents finally accept the condition of their child, they start to have harmony at home. There would be less blaming because sometimes the stressful part of dealing with autism in the family is sacrificing time and space to manage the condition. Individual dreams of both parents would be set aside to address the situation appropriately.
Autism can affect marriage because there are a lot of things that are needed to be faced. It is vital that both parents of a child with autism are in the same boat when it comes to managing the condition of their child. It is a matter of communication and compromise, giving strength and courage to one another.
In an article by Janeen Herskovitz, LMHC, she wrote, “It has been reported that parents of children with autism have a slightly higher divorce and marital discord rate than parents of typical children. That certainly comes as no surprise, as the stressors are generally greater. I often tell couples that a diagnosis of autism doesn’t ruin a relationship, but their response to it might.”
Yes, having a child with autism is challenging, but as long as both parents have the will and determination to deal with these needs, their relationship can never get any stronger. Autism is not a limitation but an opportunity for parents to do and be more.