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The Impact of Autism on Parents and Siblings

             In recent years, there has been an alarming concern about the growing problem of Autism in the United States. There are many misconceptions surrounding the cause, behaviors of those with the disorders, and ways to interact productively in the society without much emphasis on its impact on individuals and family members. Being a parent can be stressful, but raising a child with an autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) can be an overwhelming experience for parents and families. Compared with parents of typically developed children and children with other developmental disabilities, the pervasive and severe deficits often present in children with ASDs are associated with difficulties in caregivers, decrease parenting efficacy, and increased parenting stress, as well, as mental and physical health problems in parents. In addition to significant financial strain and time pressures, high rates of divorce and lower overall family well-being highlight the burden that having a child with an ASD can place on families. Although there are interventions, the effects on parents and family may reciprocally and negatively impact the diagnosed child and can even serve to diminish the positive effects of intervention, because, most interventions for ASD are evaluated only in terms of the diagnosed individual's outcomes, ignoring parent and family factors that may have an influence on both the immediate and long-term effects of therapy. It cannot be assumed that even significant improvements in the diagnosed child will ameliorate the parent and family distress already present, especially as the time and expense of intervention can add further family disruption. Thus, this paper will probe into these parents' and siblings' extraordinary difficult odyssey of learning and transformation. As one prominent researcher in the field put it, "I think sometimes the parents hurt more than the kids" (Lovaas, 1991, p.

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