Healthy Living

Autism: Therapy For Parents with Autistic Children

Autism: Therapy For Parents with Autistic Children

Key Takeaways

  • There are programs specifically for parents of children with autism.
  • No matter the case, each treatment plan is based on the unique individual.

Most therapies for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) focus on the child with it, but new research suggests that the some specifically designed treatments are beneficial for the child's stressed-out parents.

Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy is a treatment program specially engineered to help parents and children improve their relationship and to train parents with the fundamental skills to maintain the behavioral issues of their children. However, the therapist team can help to find out if PCIT program meets the child-parent team's needs or not.

PCIT specialists guide parents with particular skills and give them time to hone these specific skills during the program. The various skills range from regular therapy sessions to regular home sessions.

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy serves families with children between the ages of 2 and 6 who display chronic behavior problems at home, daycare, preschool or school, and who may be on treatment to handle their behavioral issues. It is important to know that experts will determine whether PCIT is appropriate for each specific case, based on the specific symptoms and requirements displayed by the child and the family.

The PCIT services include the following:

  • Assessment - Families with autistic children will receive a pre-treatment, which will comprehensively evaluate the behavior problems of their children.
  • Relationship Improvement – A therapist will teach parents how to improve the positive attitude of their bond with their child and consistently increase supportive and positive relation.
  • Behavioral Management – Experts will teach parents the skills of child management and essential features of effective discipline.

Other Family Therapy for Autism

Many programs to treat autism recommend family involvement. For example, "floor play" may develop social and emotion-control skills, involves parent to play intensively with their child. Collaborative Problem Solving focuses on improving the ability of children to handle their passion and think more widely, while Functional Behavioral Analysis aims to develop social skills. These all involve both the parent and child.

Many of these treatments are effective, and the programs that involve parents can help them feel empowered and supported because stress and difficulty coping often come along with the challenges of raising a child with autism.

Stress on the parents can appear at every stage of a child’s life: parents often feel shock and scare during toddler years as they first observe their child's struggles. Anxiety often accompanies the challenges to receive appropriate services during schooling years. Parents may face disappointment and sadness in the teen years, when they notice failed socialisation and the rejection of their child by peers. Demands of resource and renewed time can be added with the struggle to find appropriate services during the transition to youth. Moreover, parents may experience exhaustion as they face the increasing demands of caring for adults with autism.

Each family member may experience specific challenges throughout these time periods. Parent-child relationships can be stressful because of the treatment approaches and challenges adjusting. Siblings may feel embarrassed for their autistic siblings but they may also feel jealousy with the care and attention their parents give to their brother or sister. Older siblings may also experience the stress of caretaking.

Family stress and struggle can be challenging for autistic people. The conditions of people with autism develop in consistent and peaceful environments. They also need familial support and adequate care. If family members become confused or upset, they may not able to care for the autistic individual appropriately. Moreover, tense family environments may amplify the behavioral problems of the child with autism and reduce their ability to improve their condition. So, stress on the family may make the situation worse by creating a negative cycle.

Family therapy is the best treatment to subdue negativity. Observing the whole family, a family therapist can determine the unmet requirements in each member and enhance particular relationships. Family therapists can help individuals of a family support each other and communicate more effectively. They can assist family members in getting proper treatment. The therapists regularly assist parents in strengthening their relationships working with other family members cooperatively. They may also work to make strong relationships among siblings and build up relationships between children and individual parents.

All family members can make their situation better by a successful family therapy plan that can create positive cycles in a family.  Families can create unified and supportive environments so that each family member is comfortable and happy. As a result, autistic children are better equipped to develop their emotional, social and academic skills.