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Autism is not a simple development disorder that can be cured with medications or a few trips to the psychiatrist. It is a serious disorder that affects people differently and because an autistic child has leaning disabilities it is important to take extreme care for the child. The person suffering from autism is unable to relate to the world or comprehend it. Researchers still do not have an accurate idea how autism appears or how to treat it. So it is important to know what you can do in the meantime dealing with this disorder.
The financial hardships
Financial issues can be a major concern. Special services at home and outside treatments are available but are very expensive and it can be hard to find good workers that your child will get along with. "One family says they only get two hours a week of home services. As autistic children need constant care and attention, two hours a week is hardly enough" (Melissa Hincha-Ownby). Receiving a diagnosis is often the first financial hurdle that many families face. With fees ranging from 300 to 3,000 and up, it can be a serious issue for families. Most parents will need to hold a secondary job to keep up with their payments not only with therapy and treatment but also with paying of other debts such as electricity bill, house mortgage, and etc. Sharpe states that it is
important to begin financial planning as soon as a diagnosis is made. "She suggests financial planners need to help direct families to available resources and help them think seriously about the implications of spending all their retirement money on various
therapies or having one parent step out of the job force to care for a child when other options could be available" (ScienceDaily). Some families skip meals to save that little bit of money that they can, to support their child in treatments. Others talked about robbing their future by depleting savings, emptying their 401K plans, selling stocks and even filing for bankruptcy. "More costs are added to some families who need counseling and medication for themselves in order to cope with the stress of raising a child with autism, further straining the family budget" (ScienceDaily).
The effects on siblings and parents
Whether the child with autism is the first born, in the middle, or the baby, parents often worry about the "effect that dealing with the autism and the time commitment it involves will have on the other children" (Kathleen Doheny). In all of the families the children are very aware that their brother or sister has autism. Mothers find it difficult to spend equal time with both children because autistic children need so much more attention and care. Most siblings with a brother or a sister with autism are afraid to bring their friends to their home because they do not know how their friends are going to react to their brother or sister. Many siblings also fear and worry about other kids making fun of their brother or sister who has autism. McCarton claims that it is important for siblings to speak about how they feel. "Siblings of children with autism may exhibit more behavior problems than children who don't have a sibling with autism; Wakely explains that these behavior problems might include acting out, aggressive behavior and disobedience" (The Medical News). Dealing with a diagnosis of autism can also put a strain on any marriage. Men and women tend to react to the news differently, which can add more stress upon one another. McCarton states that when a couple reacts differently, that is the first crack in their marriage (The Medical News). Even with all the things going on, it is still important to make time for one another.
The major adjustments for the family
Most families make drastic changes of their family practices and behaviors. Mothers in particular now found that they were exhausted all the time and found it hard to function well throughout the day. One mother commented that she loved to sing to her children but had to stop because her son would scream and go into fits. She has to have everything with locks and put away fragile things so nothing is left out that could get broken (Lisa Jo Rudy). Many children with autism have trouble with social interactions and changes in their routines. Because of this, family outings can be difficult when dealing with an autistic child. Another family always takes two vehicles, that way when they start to see a behavior that indicates that he or she is breaking down one parent can leave. "If not, it is likely that the boy will have a full-blown tantrum, which is often
accompanied by violence and aggression" (Lisa Jo Rudy). Keeping a regular schedule and a well balanced meal is very important for the child. "The key is to get down on paper what the issues are, the hardest things, and then try to think of a solution for each" (Kathleen Doheny). Managing a social life can also be difficult at times when there are so many tasks that need to be done. Attending to a friends party or a barbeque might seem easy, but when dealing with an autistic child it can make both parties uncomfortable. The fear of having people talk negatively about your child holds back the enjoyment of living life to the fullest. In one of the articles, Nat claims that sometimes asking a friend who invited you to a party if they have a "spare bedroom with a television to which her son can retreat if the crowds get to be too much" is a great way to avoid any tantrums from the boy (Kathleen Doheny).
Autism affects the families enormously. They are challenged physically, emotionally, and financially. The everyday things that we take for granted have to be carefully planned and executed. Better understanding through education for friends and families can set more awareness about the disorder. It is important for mothers to have places in the community with trained workers where the kids could go play and be accepted. Autism is a life long disorder and because of this, there should be more help available and treatments that are more affordable for families.