Monday, December 9, 2013

Marriage & Autism

As most of you know, this blog is my way of educating you on autism and what a family goes through. To be honest, I don't even come close to telling you everything. I don't even come close to educating you on what "really" goes on in a house with a family of a child with autism behind closed doors. One topic I gear away from is the marital problems that arise when raising a child with autism or a child with any special needs.

I believe that anyone who is married would agree that marriage isn't easy. It really is not easy when you are raising a child with autism. When you meet and fall in love it is not a common thing to ask your potential partner in life how they would react to tragedy. The tragedy or raising a disable child. Instead, you fall in love and make dreams of the "normal" life. The dreams of having 3-4 healthy children with no financial problems. Your dreams are not filled with a one spouse working household while the other spouse is fighting against autism and trying everything to help her child beat the odds. The dreams of living happily ever after with no tragedy is what you think will happen.

Then BOOM!! The tragedy hits so what happened to those dreams? Those dreams are replaced with daily struggles that most people can't even fathom. You and your spouse are handed a piece of paper to send to your insurance that says your child has autism and needs 40 hours of combined therapy in ABA,ST, and OT. What they need to do is also hand the parents a script to start themselves in immediate marriage counseling. They need to inform the parents that you have three routes to choose from in your marriage. First choice, you will end up like 80 % of autism families in divorce. Second choice, you will end up like 18% of autism families whose marriage grows stronger. Third, you will stay with the 2% that stay the exact same way. Scary statistics!
What happens to make this divorce rate so high amongst the parents?  Normally one parent  takes the bull by the horns while the other does not.

This is a common paragraph you can find in most studies on divorce with autism families...

We hope that our partners will continue the journey along with us. I say this because it's fairly typical that there is one parent doing more of the advocacy, work, and research than the other as part of the division of labor. This of course is not always the case, but for the sake of argument and statistics, it is usually the mother who takes on the bulk of such work.

Another common paragraph

Chances are good that you’ve heard the statistics: Eighty percent of marriages of parents of children with autism end in divorce. For most people I know with special-needs kids, that’s a terrifying statistic. And most people can imagine it to be true, because it usually doesn’t take long to realize that autism (and other special needs) can do a real job on a marriage. Different people handle big events differently, and there’s no guarantee that you and your partner will handle things in a compatible way, starting with the diagnosis – if there is a diagnosis. Some really proactive parents get started addressing the issues even before a “qualified professional” tells them what those issues are. Often there is one parent who sees the issues and jumps on them, if not right away, then as soon as he or she can wrap his or her head around it, while the other parent may bury his or her head in the sand and deny there is anything to be done – the autism equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and singsonging loudly, “I can’t HEAR you!”

I myself have been through many things in my life that helps define me as the person I am today. I have been through mental pain and been through physical pain. Yes, some individuals have went through a lot more than I have. This journey with autism is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. Tending to the needs of my child who has a mental illness is the hardest thing I have ever done.Believe me...I have been through my share of things in my first 32 years of life. Some of my readers might remember what happened to me when I was 19 years old. I was in a fire accident  where fire blew up all around me. My two friends who I was standing right next two went up in flames. I was left to get the fire off of these two girls before it was too late. My first friend just had her leg on fire. I got her out immediately. When I looked up to see what happened to my dear friend Lisa was unimaginable. Her whole body was on fire. Do you know what a human body on fire smells like????  Its a smell you will NEVER forget! Just talking about it and remembering it is making me upset.Yes, Lisa survived but her road was not easy. I was there by her side as much as I could during her journey. I needed support and love through that tragedy and I received it from my parents whom I lived with.  What I faced only three short months later was major surgery on my body. A very lengthy,major surgery. I had to learn how to move my neck and right arm again. I woke up in pain. I had to learn how to move and fight back after that surgery while enduring some physical pain folks! IT was physical pain! Once again, I needed support and I received it from my parents whom I lived with. Why am I telling you this??? To tell you I have been through physical pain and other types of tragedy and none of it compares to what I endure daily here in my home with helping my child. None of it compares to the struggles of trying to keep your marriage "in check" and not fall to the 80%.  This pain of autism and watching your child struggle never goes way. The parents need to support each other but when that doesn't happen.....marriages start to fail. 

The physical pain I went through is over and I hope and pray that health problem never arises again. The pain of watching my friend Lisa fight through her physical pain is gone. I pray she never has to or any of us has to ever go through that. However, the pain of autism never goes away. Trenton will always have autism and the struggles it leaves on him. The pain of autism will never leave the parents. Therefore, the parents have to choose the path they will take.  So what do you do? Take the bull by the horns and be your child's advocate and learn everything you can about autism so you can help others. So you can help educate and possibly prevent autism in another loved one? If the parents are not their child's advocate than who is?  The marriage problems arise when one parent goes one way and another goes another way. 

In college I had one whole class on how to treat the parents of a special need child. I never understood why I had to have a whole class on that topic. I know why now!

The topic of marriage and autism will be continued later...


Mark 12:30-31

30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

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