Depression Among Parents of Kids With Autism

Studies have shown that parents of kids with autism have stress levels similar to those of soldiers in active combat, and may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) like war veterans. One of the reasons for this is the constant state of alertness we are in, wherein we are constantly on the lookout for “threats” against our children. Only, in our case, the threats come in the form of routine changes, sensory issues, safety concerns, etc. Unlike soldiers, none of us are trained to deal with highly stressful situations over extended periods of time. We are in the midst of it and have to learn on the job.

To make matters worse is the lack of understanding and support some autism families face. In addition to dealing with the challenges of raising a child on the spectrum, parents of kids with autism also have to battle social and emotional isolation. Sometimes no one in our circle of friends and families understands what we are going through. Our paths seem to diverge the moment our child is diagnosed with autism. While parents of neurotypical kids bond over school and sports and extra-curricular activities, parents of kids with autism are going from one therapy to another, and negotiating with schools for IEPs.

For some parents, coming to terms with an autism diagnosis can be hard in itself. All of a sudden everything you took for granted is no longer guaranteed: your chid’s placement in school, your child having friends, your child playing sports, your child participating in extracurricular activities, your child becoming independent, your child getting a job, your child having a career, your child getting married, your child having children, your child leading a conventionally successful life. Sometimes you grieve the loss of your hopes, dreams, expectations and ambitions for your child. The grieving process, however, remains the same: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and eventually, acceptance.

While some of us able to overcome our grief on our own, some of us slip into depression and need help to get better. It is important to note that a person dealing with major depression cannot simply “get over it.” They need counseling and medication in addition to understanding and support, to get better. It doesn’t mean they are weak. It takes a lot of courage and strength to admit you need help and seek it.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock image by Victor_Tongdee

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Depression

oil on canvas, original painting, portrait of beautiful girl with abstract birds, flamingo.

With Depression, Feeling 'Better' Isn't the Same as Feeling 'Well'

After an almost six month battle with a major depression relapse, several drug trial and errors and many suicidal nights, I can fairly safely say I am finally starting to feel a little better. That being said — I certainly don’t feel well. I still feel completely worn out, I have no interest in doing anything, even the [...]
painting of two women standing either side of eclipse with dark and light colors either side

Learning to Ignore the Lies Depression Tells You

One of the many things depression does to you is lie. It gives you lies, neatly gift wrapped in a box, tied up with a bow — presents which look so extravagant that it seems almost impossible to not open them. Naturally, you end up believing whatever is in those boxes because, well, depression made you believe [...]
Jane Lane and Snape

30 Fictional Characters People With Depression Relate To

It’s no secret that art can imitate life. Perhaps this is why we often find books, TV shows and movies so relatable. When searching for a good show to watch or book to read, we sometimes find ourselves searching for characters we identify with, watching how they go through experiences similar to our own. When you [...]

When Depression Makes the 'Good Times' Temporary

Things are good for me right now. I have a summer job and then I’ll be starting a more reliable job in August. I just bought my first car. I’m submitting my writing to publications. I’m getting paid to edit a book. I’ve graduated from college. I’m in a good place mentally. However, I’m scared [...]