Author: Lynn Vigo, MSW, LICSW

Autism and Step-parenting

Part 5 in our series on Autism and Family Life

If you are a stepparent, you know how challenging it can be to assume that role in a child’s life. Even if you and your spouse dated for a long while, marrying and combining households isn’t always as warm and fuzzy as Mike and Carol of The Brady Bunch made it look.

The “packaged deal” brings so much to the marriage including a child or children, an ex-spouse or two, in-laws, and all that kitchenware.

If you’ve not had children yourself and are becoming a parent for the first time, there’s a steep learning curve as you find your way on the parenting path.

Take all of this – and add autism – and you have quite an adjustment for all concerned.

Parents of kids with autism are often heard to say that “I have no choice” when praised by others for the tough job they have.

What about parents who DO have a choice?

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Divorce, Autism and Single Parenting

Part 4 in our series on Autism and Family Life

Divorce. Autism. Single Parenting.

These are three things we don’t ever think will happen to us when we’re newly married – or new parents – or newly diagnosed.

As noted in our last blog on autism and marriage, having a child with autism certainly does not mean that your marriage won’t last yet it’s obvious that autism brings many additional stressors to a marriage. And like parents of typically-developing kids, sometimes our marriages do end in divorce.

Single parenting is a tough job. For parents of kids with autism, flying solo can feel like piloting a single-engine plane in turbulent skies.

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Marriage and Autism

Part 3 in our series on Autism and Family Life

For a dozen years I’ve heard the statistic that 80% of parents of children with autism divorce and for a dozen years I’ve tried unsuccessfully to find the purported study. I did, however, locate studies whose findings provide evidence that the 80% divorce rate is an urban legend.

Kennedy Krieger study

  • Brian Freedman, clinical director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) at Kennedy Krieger Institute used data from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health  of more than 70, 000 children age 3 through seventeen.
  • Debunked the 80% myth: 64% of parents of kids with autism remained married compared to 65% for those who did not have a child with autism. This means that the divorce rate was virtually the same, about 35% not an exorbitant 80%. Read full post »

Parental Stress and Autism

Part 2 in our series on Autism and Family Life

Stress.

With a global picture that seems to get tenser every day, is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t feel it?

Science tells us that a certain degree of it can be a good thing. It’s what allows us to grow stronger emotionally, cognitively and physically. Often things that make us feel a bit anxious are the ones that nudge us out of our comfort zone to trust our instincts, test our limits, take a chance. Read full post »

Autism and Family Life- Part 1

A series on parental stress, marriage, divorce, single parenting, step parenting, siblings, and more.

Today we begin our series on autism and family life.

Warning: this will be a hard look at the hard things about autism.

With 1 in 88 kids diagnosed today, there is tremendous impact on a growing number of families. While more awareness of autism exists, we believe more attention is due to the increasing needs of families trying to do their best with a scarcity of supports and resources. A huge bubble of kids, an “autism baby boom” is making its way to young adulthood with parents showing the toll of years of caregiving. Read full post »