I recently read an article that entitled, Autism Moms Have Stress Similar To Combat Soldiers. At the end of the article was a long list of comments stating the validity of the article. Some wrote that it is indeed true for mothers raising a child with a disability, and others affirming that the article was true of any mother, period!
The fact is, raising any child has its challenges and rewards, but moms raising children with ASD (or other disabilities) have an additional layer of care, responsibilities and expenses (a concise list). I know! I have experienced first hand the many rewards and challenges! I raised 5 boys, 2 with ASD. While my 3 “neuro-typical” boys required MUCH attention, my 2 boys with ASD required MUCH MORE attention. The attention required for my boys with ASD however, was one of a much different nature.
For three of my boys, I had no worries about them running out of the house at night or venturing out in the middle of the day barely clad. On the other hand, these things were concerning, specifically with one of my guys with ASD. That alone caused an additional level of concern, anxiety and care, not to mention a lot less sleep.
The study interviewed moms at the end of each day about their experiences, and on four of the days, researchers measured the moms’ hormone levels to assess their stress. Interestingly, the researchers found that a hormone, which is associated with stress, was extremely low and consistent with people who are experiencing chronic stress. This type of stress they found is very similar to that of a solider in combat. This report was one of two studies published in The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
While I have never compared my situation with that of a soldier (my husband is a retired Marine), I can, without a doubt, say that I experienced chronic stress and stressful situations. How did I get through? My faith, my family, very close friends, and my support system (paid and volunteers) helped along the way. Getting through the difficult times with a sound mind was instrumental in our desire to start Total Life Coaching and Consulting.
Bottom line? The study stated, as those of us who are in the battle already knew, parents raising children with disabilities need better respite, more support and more options from their employers.
Vanessa Reed, Life Coach
Total Life Coaching & Consulting