Despite the rumors of an 80% divorce rate, couples
raising children with autism are sticking together and doing the best they can
under trying circumstances. During the past five years, three research studies
have provided significant evidence that couples are not breaking up because of
the heightened stress they are experiencing.
Psychologist Brian Freedman, PhD, was the lead author of one of these studies and clinical director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger Institute. These findings debunked the general understanding about divorce rates among parents of children with autism. Dr. Freedman and his research team found that 64 percent of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) belong to a family with two married, biological, or adoptive parents.
Previous research clearly established that parenting a child with autism is stressful and puts pressure on the couple's relationship. Studies have found couples with a child with autism experience more stress than couples with typically developing children or couples with children with other types of developmental disabilities. Mothers of children with autism report more depression than those with typically developing children, while fathers report they deal with the stress by distancing themselves and becoming less involved with the family.
This Sunday, November 10 at 9 PM Eastern, Brian Freedman, Ph.D. will be our featured contributor on "Guy Talk" at www.autismbrainstorm.org discussing the research and implications for families raising children with autism and related conditions. We will talk about how fathers are handling these challenges in their families.
Mark your calendars, and if that time is not convenient you will be able to watch a recording of our conversation on YouTube. Click here to download a copy of the study.
Robert Naseef and Brian Freedman collaborated on a 2011article for the Autism Advocate, A Diagnosis of Autism is not a Prognosis of Divorce: Myths and Realities of Maintaining a Marriage as Parents of a Child with Autism.