families of children with autism

New research illustrates the challenges that families of children with autism experience in society.

Autism is often noticed within the first year of life, and while there is no actual cure, treatments such as behavioral therapy, educational therapy, and medications can help manage symptoms.

Family often plays a role in the treatment of autism as parents and siblings can help teach the individual social interaction skills.  However, caring for someone with autism can be hard on families.  To determine the challenges faced by families of children with autism, a study published in the International Journal of Autism & Related Disabilities surveyed a group of families regarding their experiences.

The study group consisted of 25 caregivers of 16 children between the ages of two and 20 with diagnosed autism spectrum disorder.  Researchers asked caregivers about their children’s’ age, gender, ethnicity, health insurance, diagnosis, level of functioning, and any other health conditions.  They also asked caregivers multiple questions regarding social isolation and health concerns.

The study found that families with children who had low-functioning autism spectrum disorder were likely to experience emotional burnout.  Emotional burnout is exhaustion caused by persistent emotional stress.  Single-parent families, as well as families with an aggressive child, were more likely to experience emotional burnout.  Moreover, emotional burnout was associated with a greater rate of social isolation.

The results of this study suggest that caring for children with autism could potentially be difficult for families.  However, the study group was small so more research is needed to determine the challenges more accurately.  The results of this study also emphasize the importance of support systems for people with autism spectrum disorder and their families, as they can ultimately reduce the burnout and social isolation that can occur.


Written by Avery Bisbee



Autism spectrum disorder. (2018, January 6). Retrieved January 6, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/autism-spectrum-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352934.

Burnout Prevention and Treatment. (2019, December 13). Retrieved January 6, 2020, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/burnout-prevention-and-recovery.htm.

Families of children with autism face physical, mental and social burdens. (2020, January 6). Retrieved January 6, 2020, from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-01/ru-foc122019.php.

Ming, X., Wu, B., Yang, M., & Polavarapu, A. (2019). Family Burdens of Caring for a Child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. International Journal of Autism and Related Disabilities. Retrieved from https://www.gavinpublishers.com/articles/research-article/International-Journal-of-Autism-Related-Disabilities-ISSN-2642-3227/family-burdens-of-caring-for-a-child-with-an-autism-spectrum-disorder

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