Creating a Strong Marriage or Partnership When Your Child Has Autism

Posted Oct 27, 2017

Close

E-mail Article

Complete form to e-mail article…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

Separate multiple recipients with a comma

Close

Sign-Up For Newsletters

Complete this form to sign-up for newsletters…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

 

Summary

  • Support and understand your partner.
  • Take advantage of resources for the child and yourself.
  • Manage your expectations.

Being a parent changes the dynamics between any couple. Parenting a child with autism changes the relationship even more.

A child with autism has trouble communicating with the world around him. According to the group Autism Speaks, autism can be identified “by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.” Still, children with autism also have “unique strengths and differences.”

Jessica and Jeremy Long have two children. One is a child with autism. Jessica describes their family life as “tough but manageable.” Just like any marriage, there are ways to keep the relationship healthy.

Lean on each other

When parents learn of an autism diagnosis for their child, they may feel sadness. People handle the news differently. Try not to judge each other. Work together to become educated about your child’s needs.

Just like with any child, accidents happen. Most parents have a story that starts “I only looked away for a second.” The same is true for the Longs. On Jessica’s watch, her son “eloped” (left an area without permission or without letting someone know). It took several hours for the police to find him. Jessica was filled with guilt, but Jeremy didn’t blame her. When he was in charge, their son climbed out the window. Jessica didn’t blame Jeremy. She says, “I think being understanding and clinging to each other through the storms has been really key to our relationship.”

Remember that you and your partner are not alone

The Longs are both teachers. Their careers helped because they have seen the support offered in schools. Schools have people trained to help children with special needs. Jessica said most schools have “programs that are effective in training people with severe special needs to be vital contributors to the community.” Make use of programs, therapists, and aides offered by your child’s school or community.

Also, seek counseling. Going as a couple or alone, it helps to have your feelings heard. You can use the time to brainstorm solutions to troubles. Remember that all couples have different parenting styles. Talk about your thoughts on discipline, goals, finances, and the future. Cut each other slack when things don’t go as planned. Counseling is useful if you and your partner have a hard time communicating or feel tense with each other.

If you decide divorce is the best option for your family, counseling can help you learn how to co-parent separately. It can also help your child depending on his age and communication level.

Make use of family and friends. But be reasonable in your expectations. They may not know how to interact with or care for your child. Offer ways they can learn. Tell them about books they can read. Have them help with specific tasks under your supervision first. You don’t have to feel like you are an encyclopedia for them. Suggest they do research to learn more about autism. It might be better to find a caretaker trained in special needs, if that is an option.

There are also online communities and social media pages that can connect you to families of children with autism who share your struggles.

Manage your expectations

Jessica says, “I think it’s key that parents of children with autism let go of expectations, especially typical timelines.” She adds, “Trying to ‘catch your child up’ and putting pressure on your child and yourself to meet these random deadlines is brutal on a relationship. It’s hard on your mental wellness (as well as your child’s).”

The Longs live by their calendar. Still, they have a hard time making all the appointments their son could have. They have learned to do the best they can. Early interventions and therapies are important. So is taking time to be together as a family.

Jessica adds, “While it is important to seek and comply with all early intervention work, it will take time. Your kid will always be a little different. Love her twice as much. She is probably trying 10 times as hard to do half as much as the average kid. He needs your love and support more than anything any teacher, doctor, or specialist can give him.”

Resources

Autism Awareness Centre Inc.
https://autismawarenesscentre.com/shop/a-through-c/autism-in-the-family-caring-and-coping-together/.

“Explaining Autism,” Sesame Street in Communities
https://sesamestreetincommunities.org/topics/autism/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=parentingachildwithautism&utm_content=AutismParents&utm_campaign=SSIC2017.

“Divorce, Custody, and ASD,” Car Autism Roadmap
www.carautismroadmap.org/divorce-custody-and-asd/

By Jennifer Brick
Source: Jessica Long, M.Ed.; "Autism--It's a Family Thing" by Chantal Sicile-Kira, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-autism-advocate/201003/autism-its-family-thing; "Frequently Asked Questions," Autism Speaks, www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/faq
Reviewed by Teresa Boussom, BCBA, National Director of Autism Services, Beacon Health Options, and Drew Pate, MD, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Support and understand your partner.
  • Take advantage of resources for the child and yourself.
  • Manage your expectations.

Being a parent changes the dynamics between any couple. Parenting a child with autism changes the relationship even more.

A child with autism has trouble communicating with the world around him. According to the group Autism Speaks, autism can be identified “by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.” Still, children with autism also have “unique strengths and differences.”

Jessica and Jeremy Long have two children. One is a child with autism. Jessica describes their family life as “tough but manageable.” Just like any marriage, there are ways to keep the relationship healthy.

Lean on each other

When parents learn of an autism diagnosis for their child, they may feel sadness. People handle the news differently. Try not to judge each other. Work together to become educated about your child’s needs.

Just like with any child, accidents happen. Most parents have a story that starts “I only looked away for a second.” The same is true for the Longs. On Jessica’s watch, her son “eloped” (left an area without permission or without letting someone know). It took several hours for the police to find him. Jessica was filled with guilt, but Jeremy didn’t blame her. When he was in charge, their son climbed out the window. Jessica didn’t blame Jeremy. She says, “I think being understanding and clinging to each other through the storms has been really key to our relationship.”

Remember that you and your partner are not alone

The Longs are both teachers. Their careers helped because they have seen the support offered in schools. Schools have people trained to help children with special needs. Jessica said most schools have “programs that are effective in training people with severe special needs to be vital contributors to the community.” Make use of programs, therapists, and aides offered by your child’s school or community.

Also, seek counseling. Going as a couple or alone, it helps to have your feelings heard. You can use the time to brainstorm solutions to troubles. Remember that all couples have different parenting styles. Talk about your thoughts on discipline, goals, finances, and the future. Cut each other slack when things don’t go as planned. Counseling is useful if you and your partner have a hard time communicating or feel tense with each other.

If you decide divorce is the best option for your family, counseling can help you learn how to co-parent separately. It can also help your child depending on his age and communication level.

Make use of family and friends. But be reasonable in your expectations. They may not know how to interact with or care for your child. Offer ways they can learn. Tell them about books they can read. Have them help with specific tasks under your supervision first. You don’t have to feel like you are an encyclopedia for them. Suggest they do research to learn more about autism. It might be better to find a caretaker trained in special needs, if that is an option.

There are also online communities and social media pages that can connect you to families of children with autism who share your struggles.

Manage your expectations

Jessica says, “I think it’s key that parents of children with autism let go of expectations, especially typical timelines.” She adds, “Trying to ‘catch your child up’ and putting pressure on your child and yourself to meet these random deadlines is brutal on a relationship. It’s hard on your mental wellness (as well as your child’s).”

The Longs live by their calendar. Still, they have a hard time making all the appointments their son could have. They have learned to do the best they can. Early interventions and therapies are important. So is taking time to be together as a family.

Jessica adds, “While it is important to seek and comply with all early intervention work, it will take time. Your kid will always be a little different. Love her twice as much. She is probably trying 10 times as hard to do half as much as the average kid. He needs your love and support more than anything any teacher, doctor, or specialist can give him.”

Resources

Autism Awareness Centre Inc.
https://autismawarenesscentre.com/shop/a-through-c/autism-in-the-family-caring-and-coping-together/.

“Explaining Autism,” Sesame Street in Communities
https://sesamestreetincommunities.org/topics/autism/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=parentingachildwithautism&utm_content=AutismParents&utm_campaign=SSIC2017.

“Divorce, Custody, and ASD,” Car Autism Roadmap
www.carautismroadmap.org/divorce-custody-and-asd/

By Jennifer Brick
Source: Jessica Long, M.Ed.; "Autism--It's a Family Thing" by Chantal Sicile-Kira, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-autism-advocate/201003/autism-its-family-thing; "Frequently Asked Questions," Autism Speaks, www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/faq
Reviewed by Teresa Boussom, BCBA, National Director of Autism Services, Beacon Health Options, and Drew Pate, MD, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Support and understand your partner.
  • Take advantage of resources for the child and yourself.
  • Manage your expectations.

Being a parent changes the dynamics between any couple. Parenting a child with autism changes the relationship even more.

A child with autism has trouble communicating with the world around him. According to the group Autism Speaks, autism can be identified “by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.” Still, children with autism also have “unique strengths and differences.”

Jessica and Jeremy Long have two children. One is a child with autism. Jessica describes their family life as “tough but manageable.” Just like any marriage, there are ways to keep the relationship healthy.

Lean on each other

When parents learn of an autism diagnosis for their child, they may feel sadness. People handle the news differently. Try not to judge each other. Work together to become educated about your child’s needs.

Just like with any child, accidents happen. Most parents have a story that starts “I only looked away for a second.” The same is true for the Longs. On Jessica’s watch, her son “eloped” (left an area without permission or without letting someone know). It took several hours for the police to find him. Jessica was filled with guilt, but Jeremy didn’t blame her. When he was in charge, their son climbed out the window. Jessica didn’t blame Jeremy. She says, “I think being understanding and clinging to each other through the storms has been really key to our relationship.”

Remember that you and your partner are not alone

The Longs are both teachers. Their careers helped because they have seen the support offered in schools. Schools have people trained to help children with special needs. Jessica said most schools have “programs that are effective in training people with severe special needs to be vital contributors to the community.” Make use of programs, therapists, and aides offered by your child’s school or community.

Also, seek counseling. Going as a couple or alone, it helps to have your feelings heard. You can use the time to brainstorm solutions to troubles. Remember that all couples have different parenting styles. Talk about your thoughts on discipline, goals, finances, and the future. Cut each other slack when things don’t go as planned. Counseling is useful if you and your partner have a hard time communicating or feel tense with each other.

If you decide divorce is the best option for your family, counseling can help you learn how to co-parent separately. It can also help your child depending on his age and communication level.

Make use of family and friends. But be reasonable in your expectations. They may not know how to interact with or care for your child. Offer ways they can learn. Tell them about books they can read. Have them help with specific tasks under your supervision first. You don’t have to feel like you are an encyclopedia for them. Suggest they do research to learn more about autism. It might be better to find a caretaker trained in special needs, if that is an option.

There are also online communities and social media pages that can connect you to families of children with autism who share your struggles.

Manage your expectations

Jessica says, “I think it’s key that parents of children with autism let go of expectations, especially typical timelines.” She adds, “Trying to ‘catch your child up’ and putting pressure on your child and yourself to meet these random deadlines is brutal on a relationship. It’s hard on your mental wellness (as well as your child’s).”

The Longs live by their calendar. Still, they have a hard time making all the appointments their son could have. They have learned to do the best they can. Early interventions and therapies are important. So is taking time to be together as a family.

Jessica adds, “While it is important to seek and comply with all early intervention work, it will take time. Your kid will always be a little different. Love her twice as much. She is probably trying 10 times as hard to do half as much as the average kid. He needs your love and support more than anything any teacher, doctor, or specialist can give him.”

Resources

Autism Awareness Centre Inc.
https://autismawarenesscentre.com/shop/a-through-c/autism-in-the-family-caring-and-coping-together/.

“Explaining Autism,” Sesame Street in Communities
https://sesamestreetincommunities.org/topics/autism/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=parentingachildwithautism&utm_content=AutismParents&utm_campaign=SSIC2017.

“Divorce, Custody, and ASD,” Car Autism Roadmap
www.carautismroadmap.org/divorce-custody-and-asd/

By Jennifer Brick
Source: Jessica Long, M.Ed.; "Autism--It's a Family Thing" by Chantal Sicile-Kira, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-autism-advocate/201003/autism-its-family-thing; "Frequently Asked Questions," Autism Speaks, www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/faq
Reviewed by Teresa Boussom, BCBA, National Director of Autism Services, Beacon Health Options, and Drew Pate, MD, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

Close

  • Useful Tools

    Select a tool below

© 2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.