5 Grueling Challenges of an Autistic Child's Parent

5 Grueling Challenges of an Autistic Child's Parent

Parents with autistic kids face challenges that range from mild to grueling while caring for their autistic children.

This is because, in most cases, autism is a lifelong disability that impairs normal life functioning.

Unlike normal kids who grow up to be independent, autistic children may never fully attain independence even as adults.

Due to their over-dependence on their parents, the challenges of an autistic child's parents are never-ending.

From the time the child is diagnosed with autism, there is much demand for their parent's time, attention, and care.

This means that their parents might be socially isolated and lack the support of their family and friends.

The high cost of treatment, therapy, special education services, and assisted devices for autistic children puts a strain on their family finances.

The daily struggles of raising an autistic child increase the emotional and mental burdens on their parents and family members.

Many parents with autistic kids suffer from high levels of stress, anxiety and depression, and other health-related problems.

This has led to family problems and a negative impact on their well-being and quality of life.

Here are 5 grueling challenges of an autistic child's parent:

Autism Therapists in Colorado

Shannon Hamm, LPC

Shannon Hamm, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Kelsey Maestas, LPCC

Kelsey Maestas, LPCC

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Brooke Moraski, LPCC, NCC

Brooke Moraski, LPCC, NCC

(720) 449-4121
Melissa Johnston, LPCC

Melissa Johnston, LPCC

(720) 449-4121
Kimberly Nefflen, LPCC

Kimberly Nefflen, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Michele Ames-Hodges, PsyD, LPC

Michele Ames-Hodges, PsyD, LPC

(719) 345-2424
Jennifer Luttman, LPC, ACS

Jennifer Luttman, LPC, ACS

(719) 345-2424
Derek Bonds, LPC

Derek Bonds, LPC

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Stephanie Kol, LPCC

Stephanie Kol, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 203-7021
Barbra Styles, LPC, LAC

Barbra Styles, LPC, LAC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424

Health Challenges 

One major challenge for an autistic child's parent is health challenges.

The daily struggles they face in terms of the child's caregiving take a toll on their physical and mental health.

They may experience feelings such as anger, guilt, shame, and helplessness over their child's disability.

Thinking about the child's development and future may also lead to anxiety, fear, and psychological distress.

The mental health challenges of an autistic child's parent make them susceptible to other health challenges like depression, cancer, and an increased risk of early death.

The level of the disability and severity of the symptoms are major health stressors.

A child with low cognitive development and functional abilities may exhibit behavior difficulties which might be frustrating and overwhelming for their parents.

A child's propensity for long-term dependency would also increase the parents' stress level.

Financial Challenges 

Most autism disorders require lifelong treatment and care, as there is currently no known cure for autism.

This creates financial problems for the family.

Families are forced to make significant employment decisions to adjust to their special needs.

The absence of insurance that covers the treatment of autistic children contributes to the financial difficulties of parents.

At times, there may be the need for a change in career, one parent may have to make career-related sacrifices or work extra hours for extra income to cover the high cost of special education and treatment.

Most of the parents/caregivers in their study find it difficult to acquire new skills or get and keep a job.

The financial strain on the family's income is one of the grueling challenges of an autistic child's parent.

Change in Family Life

An autistic child's diagnosis causes a drastic change in family life.

The family has to make drastic lifestyle adjustments to adapt the home to a new reality in terms of special parental treatment and long-term care for the child.

Families may have to change their family dynamics and goals to accommodate the needs of the autistic child.

This change affects the relationship and communication levels between spouses and between parents and their other kids.

Some spouses may feel like their needs are neglected, leading to emotional distance and a breakdown of relationships.

Research has shown a higher rate of divorce between parents with autistic children than parents with normal kids.

Most times, parents focus more on the needs of their autistic kids.

They may feel like they are paid less time and energy compared to autistic kids.

This may lead to feelings of neglect, jealousy, hostility, and deterioration of sibling relationships.

Restriction on Social Activities 

Social activities provide an avenue for parents to bond.

For instance, some parents may become life-long friends because their kids practice soccer together.

The case is different for parents with autistic kids.

Due to their high dependency on their parents, they have to devote all their time and attention to their care.

Hence, they are unable to participate in social activities.

Some parents deliberately avoid family meetings because they worry about how their children might behave in public.

They may exhibit difficult behaviors such as tantrums, repetitive behavior, and aggressive outbursts while in social gatherings.

This might lead to isolation from friends and families.

Parents of autistic kids may also avoid social gatherings due to negative stereotypes regarding autism due to social stigma.

People may look at their kids differently, treat their kids differently from other kids, and exclude them from activities that may cause feelings of embarrassment.

Their inability to participate in social activities is a challenge for an autistic child's parents, which forces them to stay at home.

This leads to a decrease in the quantity and quality of their social relationships.

Lack of Support 

A lack of understanding of what autism may hinder people from extending love and support to autistic children and their parents.

The absence of social support is a major challenge for an autistic child's parent.

Difficulties in finding trained helpers to look after the child may also pose challenges for the parents.

The only support parents with autistic kids get is mostly from other parents who have autistic children and healthcare providers.

These people provide ideas on how to cope with challenges.

Autistic children may also suffer discrimination from others who do not understand the disability and the reasons for the child's behavior.

This negative perception and lack of social support may lead to the development of mental health problems in parents. 


Parenting an autistic child is a challenging and stressful experience, especially where support is limited.

The challenges of an autistic child's parent range from health challenges, financial problems, changes in family dynamics, and the absence of social life and a system of support.

Children with autism can live happy and fulfilling lives with public awareness and social support services.


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Comments 1

Guest - Wesley Groves on Aug 23rd, 2023

When anxious children are put into situations that trigger their anxiety, they may lash out or have a tantrum in an effort to escape that situation.

Wesley Groves || natautism.com

When anxious children are put into situations that trigger their anxiety, they may lash out or have a tantrum in an effort to escape that situation. Wesley Groves || natautism.com
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December 2nd, 2023

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