Reducing Stress Dealing with Autism | Advice for Autism Parents

Reducing Stress Dealing with Autism | Advice for Autism Parents

Did you know that mothers of children with
autism experience the stress levels of combat soldiers? Today I’ll be addressing this serious issue
and giving some strategies to help reduce stress. Each week I provide you with some of my ideas
about turning autism around, so if you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube channel you can do
that now. Several years ago in 2009, a study was published
in the Journal of Autism and Developmental disorders which examined the stress levels
of 96 mothers of adolescents and adults with autism compared to mothers of children without
disabilities. The mothers were interviewed at the end of
each day and saliva samples were taken every four days to test their hormone levels. The study found that a hormone that was related
to stress was extremely low, consistent with people experiencing chronic stress, such as
soldiers in combat. The study also found that mothers of older
children and adults with ASD spend significantly more time providing care and doing chores
than mothers of typically developing kids and less time in their own leisure activities. In fact, the autism mom spends at least 2
hours more a day caring for their children than the moms of children who were not disabled. These moms suffered from chronic fatigue,
arguments, and they were three times as likely to report a stressful event each day and twice
as likely as the control group to report being tired. The mothers of the children with autism were
interrupted at work 1 out of every 4 days compared to 1 out of every 10 days for parents
of non autistic children. The mothers of children with high levels of
behavior problems had the most pronounced profile of chronic stress. The greater the child’s behavior problems
were, the worse the mother’s stress. Long term effects on physical health were
not studied, but the hormone levels have been associated with chronic health problems and
can affect glucose regulation, immune functioning, and mental activity. Another study by Singh and colleagues published
in 2006 suggested that stress levels can be reduced by teaching parents how to handle
problem behaviors like aggression. In earlier studies by Hastings and Beck in
2004 noted that when interventions result in children’s language acquisition and in
the reduction of problem behaviors, parents experience a greater sense of wellbeing and
a reduction in reported stress levels. What can you do to reduce stress? First of all, I want to say as an autism mom
for two decades and as a Behavioral Analyst, I tell parents that this is a marathon, not
a sprint. In fact, it’s more of a marathon on a rollercoaster
if there could be such a thing. There are definitely ups and downs along the
way. I have found that things like meditation can
really help reduce stress. I have done the miracle morning meditation
routine and that might be something to look into. Also, getting respite and care for your children
as much as possible is ideal, because we all need a break and we all need to do some things
for ourselves. You can join support groups, either locally
or online. It might help just to talk to people who understand. It’s important to spend time with your significant
other and also with your other children. One of the advices of the doctor who diagnosed
Lucas early on was to spend time with me and just Spencer, my other son, spend time with
me and just Lucas, and spend time with me and just my husband and not to focus on doing
everything as a family unit. I know this is kind of sad in a way, but if
you all have to stay home and not experience going to sporting events or going to musicals,
it can get even more stressful. I also think as a registered nurse and a Behavioral
Analyst that ruling out medical issues is really important. This is an ongoing process. While it seems stressful to go to appointments
or to look into medical issues, I have found that digging in and finding out some of the
medical problems that Lucas was experiencing actually reduces his problem behavior and
caused me less stress in the long run. You want to look into medical reasons for
the problem behaviors, especially if there’s a sudden worsening or a change in behavior. I also think counseling is a great idea. In chapter 12 of my book I talk about how
my husband and I got counseling shortly after the diagnosis of autism. Professional counseling I think is always
a great idea. Another thing you can do is take care of yourself
as much as possible with things like exercise, time with friends, and even going on vacations. I think early on I got so involved with going
to autism conferences, partially because I could get a hotel room and sleep in my own
bed through the night without interruption, and I could also learn. Those are just some general tips. I think the most important advice that I have
for autism moms is to learn all you can about ABA, since learning how to apply this proven
science almost always will lead to improved language and a reduction in problem behaviors. With over two decades in the autism world,
first as an overwhelmed and confused and stressed out autism mom, then as a Behavior Analyst,
author and online course creator, I feel like the more you can become the captain of the
ship and learn how to improve language, how to decrease problem behaviors across all settings,
teach self-care skills and independent leisure activities, the less stress you will feel
in the long run. Wherever you’re watching this I would love
it if you would leave me a comment, give me a thumbs up and share this video with others
who might benefit. For more information on my approach for turning
autism around attend a free online workshop at I’ll see you right here next week.

Comments (10)

  1. i commend you for appraising an article and presenting it with much articulation AND that you also provided realistic options for stress relief, as always thank you.

  2. Thanks mam…it seems like you are reading my mind and supports me to come out of it.

  3. My baby its almost three years old..and she showing a lot of symptoms …has been officially diagnosed..been to speech therapy..but he told me it was too early to do that..😞..its so frustrating to see her struggle to try to communicate with me

  4. Your videos are hope for me

  5. Do you have any tips on potty training autistic children. In desperate need 😫

  6. I love your videos. Im a first time watcher. But im already subscribed and have my little bell saved.
    Thank you for being so real. Youre right it is going to be a marathon.
    I love how your brain works!

    Thank you for taking the time to make these videos!


  7. I just started your newest workshop on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 and already I have learned a lot and I know it will be invaluable as I continue to babysit my great-grandson who has autism at 33 months old.

  8. This lady needs a lot more credit!! My 2 1/2 Yr old son hasn't been diagnosed yet but he doesn't speak, walks around on his tip toes, runs taps constantly ECT…but what I do find hard are his steaming and how aggressive he is😔 I just wish I understood more!!

  9. Thank you kindly

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