How Moms Of Kids With Autism Can Reduce Stress

Moms of kids recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder can get seriously stressed—but they have the power to control it, says a new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. Researchers at Boston Medical Center worked with 122 mothers of children under six recently diagnosed with ASD.

About half of the group received six sessions of problem-solving education, a training that teaches how to use a series of steps to resolve an issue. If a mom felt lonely, for example, she might set a goal to spend more time with friends and ask a relative to babysit while her child with autism slept, reducing the chance of problems while she was out. The other group of moms received only traditional assistance—therapies and interventions for their kids.

At the end of three months, only 4 percent of the moms who got the problem-solving education reported significant stress, while 29 percent in the other group had anxiety—a major difference.

The researchers planned to continue to follow the families for nine more months, but were encouraged that an easy intervention had such significant effects. While there’s no word yet on how or where the rest of us can get the training, one takeaway for parents of kids with autism (or, really, any special needs) is remembering that no matter how hard life gets, we are capable of coming up with practical anti-stress solutions.

I remember the early days of my son’s life. Max was born in a super snowy December; the weather outside was gray, everything in the house seemed gray and my life seemed gray as well. For the first time, I was depressed. My mother regularly came to visit with my sister, who wasn’t yet married. The two of them cared for me, making me hot cocoa, doing my laundry and giving me breaks so I could dash to the store without hauling Max along. They brought brightness to my days. It’s not always simple (or possible!) to get help from friends and relatives, but it starts with asking. Even if you’ve always been a person who likes to be independent and do things on her own, ask.

If nothing else, brainstorm solutions with friends and families for things that are getting to you. Me, I was doing a whole lot of research into possible treatments for Max, and felt overwhelmed by it all. I mentioned this to a good friend; we decided that I would tell her what to look into, and she’d do Googling. Having her involved was both helpful and comforting.

Consider this: It makes people who love you feel good to help you.

Most of all, consider this: We can’t be good mothers for our kids with special needs if we don’t take care of our own needs.

From my other blog:

Holiday gifts for kids with special needs

One of the toughest parts of special needs parenting 

The homework that gave Max new perspective on ability

Image of woman sitting on beach via Shutterstock

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  1. by How Moms Of Kids With Autism Can Reduce Stress ...

    On November 20, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    [...] Expert advice about pregnancy, your life, and family time from the editors of Parents magazine. (How moms of kids with autism can reduce stress.  [...]