It is widely recognised that many families caring for children with autism experience high levels of stress. However, much of the research in this area focuses solely on the perspective of mothers, but what about the fathers?
A recent study conducted with parents at AEIOU sought to understand the experience of our fathers with raising a child with autism. Results showed that fathers also experience elevated levels of stress and there can be a variety of contributing factors. These included their child’s challenging behaviours and the reactions of others to these behaviours, additional stressors such as challenges at work, and limited social support outside of their partner. They highlighted the benefits of talking to others, and of receiving support from extended family and friends. Importantly, fathers found that talking with other fathers of children with autism was extremely valuable in coping with stress.
These findings highlight the impact that raising a child with autism can have on both mothers and fathers. Being a parent is not an easy job, and it is normal to feel a range of emotions. Remember that at AEIOU you are surrounded by families who may be experiencing the same challenges as you, and that sharing your experiences and concerns with each other can be really helpful. In addition, the Research and Assessment Team at AEIOU are currently working on developing some resources for families, to provide some more information about family wellbeing and community resources available to provide support.
A final note:
Does someone you care about need a little extra support? Try the following organisations as a starting point:
- South Brisbane Men's Shed (established by Autism Hub): https://ahrc.eq.edu.au/projects/mens-shed or https://southbrisbanemensshedinc.wildapricot.org/
- MyTime (supporting parents of children with disabilities): To find your closest group, visit https://www.mytime.net.au/groups/
- Lifeline: Phone 13 11 14 or visit https://www.lifeline.org.au/
(Paynter, J., Davies, M., & Beamish, W. (2018) Recognising the “forgotten man”: Fathers’ experiences in caring for a young child with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 43(1), 112-114. doi: 10.3109/13668250.2017.1293235)