Autism in a Child Often Leaves Families Struggling, Facing Stigma

Autism in a Child Often Leaves Families Struggling, Facing Stigma

Families of children with autism face high physical, mental and psychological burdens, are sometimes ridiculed and even accused of child abuse, says a new study.

For the study, published in the International Journal of Autism & Related Disabilities, researchers surveyed 25 caregivers of 16 children ages 2 to 20 with autism spectrum disorder to rate their care affected their family dynamics, physical and mental health, and social function.

The researchers asked about the health professionals’ worries, daily activities, family relationships and insurance.

“While the understanding of how autism spectrum disorders affect individuals has grown, the consciousness of the burden on families who care for these individuals is less established,” said study’s researcher Xue Ming in the Rutgers University, US.

The study found that emotional burnout was more likely in families with a child with low-functioning autism spectrum disorder and simultaneous conditions.

Social isolation was greater in households who reported significant psychological burnout. Families with more than one caregiver experienced social isolation and emotional burnout, the research added.

According to the researchers, households with a higher socioeconomic status tended to spend more money on medical treatments outside of their medical insurance policy.

Families with an aggressive and irritable child tended to experience burnout and social isolation.

Medical and behavioural disorders were common in these kids, they added.

Nine of the 16 families in the study reported being ridiculed or accused of child abuse, which they stated restricted them from attending social events, visiting public places such as churches, supermarkets and restaurants, and using mass transportation.

“This suggests that communities will need to improve their inclusiveness for families with children with autism spectrum disorder,” Ming said.

“The study shows there is a need to raise public awareness of the burdens faced by these families and also to alert medical providers to provide them with more support,” Ming added.

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