Family and diagnosed in the first three

Family is where we all come from. We belong to a family and it is our family that keeps us together through whatever comes our way. In an ideal world, all families would be stress free no matter what obstacles are put there in front of them. No parent ever wants their child to be sick or disabled or even harmed in anyway. If at anytime those occur, parents begin an unplanned journey for the rest of their lives. For parents to have a child with a disability, it is a lifelong adjustment that comes with a great deal of impacts. Throughout this paper I will be closely examining how having a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects/impacts the family (i.e. parents, siblings, etc). A topic that is rarely talked about is the increased amount of stress a child with ASD might bring. The question of how a child with autism impacts a family dynamic resides closely with me due to the fact that I am a sibling of a brother with special needs. This paper will take a close look at the initial impact of diagnosis, the financial burden, impact on siblings and most importantly how this all impacts parents.All children are different; they exhibit differences in terms of their physical attributes as well as their learning disabilities. The differences among children are usually small, yet the physical and learning attributes and characteristics of children with autism differ from the norm of typically developing children. Autism is a neurodevelopmental syndrome that is defined by deficits in social reciprocity, communications, and restricted repetitive behaviors. ASD is typically found in infancy and diagnosed in the first three years of life. Autism is a heterogeneous condition and no child has exactly the same profile, there is a range of severity and often changes with the acquisition of other developmental skills (Lord, Catherine, 2000, 217). The prevalence of ASD has increased dramatically. according to autsimspeaks.org 1 in 68 children, 1 in 42 boys, and 1 in 189 girls, have autism spectrum disorder. Meaning there are plenty of families out there dealing with the initial diagnosis of ASD in their child as well as the impact on their families as a whole. The first part of this journey is getting the early diagnosis. It can be a complicated process that can come with shock, disbelief and even denial (Boutot, E. Amanda, 2017, 42). Parents are overcome with fear and uncertainty on how their child’s life, as well as how their life, is going to turn out. When parents are asked about their reaction after hearing the diagnosis, shock was a dominant feeling. Some parents believed that the diagnosis was and is a punishment for their sins. Other parents discussed feelings of being depressed, sad, and having sleepless nights (Slifirczyk, A. 2013). As there are many different ways to react to the diagnosis the most common first reaction is mourning. The deep feelings of sorrow and overwhelming sadness that can be compared to grief experienced by those whose child had died. The mourning reaction is related to the fact that parents are expecting a healthy baby and when a child ends up differing from the intended outcome,  one it often becomes a stranger, since the dream is a healthy child. As long as mourning lasts, it is not possible for a parent to attach themselves to the child who really exists. However, parents gradually come to acceptance (Slifirczyk, A. 2013).  In spite of the many parents initial shock, some parents feel a sense of relief upon hearing their child has autism. These parents are glad to hear that their child has a confirmed diagnosis. Having a diagnosis means that there is a reason and a name for what is going on, emotionally and physically, with their child (Boutot, E. Amanda, 2017, pg 44). It is quite evident that there are burdens that come with the diagnosis.Having a child with autism comes with a lot of obstacles, whether you are just trying to figure out how your kid operates or just trying to support him or her in any way possible. One of the most prevalent obstacles that come with raising a child with autism is the financial burden. The medical cost and caring cost of a child with autism is significantly more than typically developing children, yet the education, clothes and amusement cost was significantly less (Xiong, Nina,  2011, Pages 306-311). Unfortunately, families with a physically or mentally disabled child receive more economic assistance than typical families and families with autistic children do not (Xiong, Nina,  2011, Pages 306-311). It is found that parents of children with autism have the heaviest financial burden. Many studies have found that the utilization and costs of health care are substantially higher for children with ASD compared to those without (Croen, Najjar, Ray, Lotspeich, & Bernal, 2006). Intervention strategies are expensive. Many require long hours of one-on-one interaction with a trained therapist, or use of costly foods or drugs. The likelihood of financial problems are associated with the use of these as well as medical interventions or therapy expense (I.E speech and language) that health insurance falls short of covering (Sharpe, L. Deanna, Baker, Lee. Danna, 2007). With all of this, remarkably little attention has focused on the financial issues faced by families that have a child with autism. Having a family member that has autism does not only affect the parents, it impacts siblings.A sibling is a source of help, emotional support and most importantly a source of companionship.  However, a child with autism frequently requires a great deal of attention, time, and energy from their parents. Siblings of children with autism are often described as the “forgotten child” because a child with autism becomes or is the center of the family due to his or her complex needs and the siblings end up getting less of their parents attention ( Chan, W.L. Gina & Goh C.L Esther, 2014, pg 156). Typically developing siblings also often fulfill roles, such as helping their brother or sister get ready for school and even providing advice. When typically developing siblings are interviewed about having a brother or sister with autism, negative relationships were associated with worries about the future of the sibling as well as the perception of parental favoritism which leads to reject of the sibling towards the child with autism (Cynthia Schemige, 2011, pg 48). A sibling of an autistic child sometimes also has feelings of embarrassment related to the increased focus to their sibling with autism. It is found that boys, specifically of a sibling with autism, score higher on the depression scale (pg 37). Although there are a number of negative impacts there are also positive relationships, it has been found that a sibling with good understanding of their brother or sister’s disability, have positive relationships. They also have higher self-concepts, healthy academic performance and healthy behavior (Cynthia Schemige, 2011). Most studies portray siblings of children with autism as “victims” as it is undeniable that they receive less parental attention, they are not necessarily victims. They have the ability to interpret and make meanings of their parents actions. They should be seen as agents of their own lives (Chan, W.L. Gina & Goh C.L Esther, 2014, pg 156). They gain the ability to make sense of their environment and are able to empathize with their parents. Parents are the heart of the family; they are the ones who deal with all issues within the household and hey are the glue that holds the family together. Parenting a child with ASD has been shown to be a stressful experience, often elevating parental anxiety and/or depression above levels reported by parents of non-ASD children (Baker-Ericzen, Brookman-Frazee, & Stahmer, 2005). Several studies have attempted to identify the ASD child based factors that are most likely to contribute to stress some are, the severity of ASD symptoms, level of functioning, child’s age and adaptive behavior (Baker-Ericzen, Brookman-Frazee, & Stahmer, 2005; Weiss, 2002). Behavior problems also tend to cause more stress due to the inability to obtain social supports. Alongside stress, parents of children with ASD also may deal with some sorts of depression. Depression is the most common associated negative impact of autism families (Boutot, E. Amanda, 2017, 45). Little research supports the idea that parents experience positive effects of raising a child with autism. However, in the journal “Focus on Autism and other Developmental Disabilities,”  a parent stated ,”Daily life with our son is such a pleasure and truly makes us feel that we are the lucky ones who have been blessed with this handsome and bright child….. Even on those days when I am at the end of my rope I sit back and am very thankful for Josh” (Welteroth, 2001, pg 9). This amount of stress and depression often affects the relationship between parents.With all the stress that having a child with autism may have, it may cause a strain on the mother-father relationship. It has been found that mother’s endure a greater amount of depression than fathers. Fathers stress and perceptions are based on maternal depression and mother stress is dependant on their partners depressions. Which suggests a cycle of influence of psychological well-being among married parents (Boutot, E. Amanda, 2017, 45). It is important as a married couple to take some time for yourselves, even though it may not be easy. When you fail to get enough sleep or eat well, or just do anything you enjoy, there is that strain on the relationship. Problems between parents can affect the whole family. Even though parents are told to take time for each other, talk to each other and listen to each other, it is often reported that is is hard to achieve communication and teamwork (ND, 3rd edition, 2003, pg 10). Putting your marriage in the background to IEP meetings, or speech therapy can often lead to lost feelings. 80% of marriages  of parents with children who have ASD end in divorce, which is a very high statistic (The thinking moms revolution, 2013). Being a parent of a child with ASD is not easy, it may never be, but it could be the most rewarding job someone could have. Becoming a family is one of the greatest moments that can occur in a person’s life. Being a parent is never easy. It is a lot of responsibility which is why is is always recommended to have kids when you are ready. Whenever a person dreams about having kids, they never dream about having a child with ASD. But throughout research it  has been found that a child with autism can have a great deal of positive as well as negative impacts on a family. Having a child with autism means that, as a parent, you will spend days, months and sometimes years pretending that everything is fine, even when it may not be. You will talk about delays in cognitive and physical development and pretend to feel relieved when someone tells you not to worry about them. Yet in the end it a joyful rollercoaster.  A family gets to endure a lifetime of firsts that not every parent gets to say they experienced. Throughout the rollercoaster ride who you are as a person begins and ends with family, it is the cornerstone of who we are and what keeps us together. A family with a child with ASD affects a family, but not drastically and not for the worst, rather for the better and there could be no better blessing.