Autistic Children

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Many years ago when I was seven years old, I watched my cousin Christopher rock back and forth as he worked a crossword puzzle. I tried to distract him from working the puzzle to ride bikes with me. I continuously asked him to play with me, but he kept staring at the puzzle while I attempted to look in his eyes. Next thing I know he had tore the puzzle apart and threw the pieces in the air, one at a time. He did not speak, but he made crying noises. The more I asked questions or talked to him, the louder his cries became. As his frustration grew, he balled his fists up, punched his eyes, and kicked his feet. I was curious about his activity. I later asked my mom why Christopher was behaving that way, my mom then told me that my cousin was autistic. Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD, is commonly found in early childhood and characterized by a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a "spectrum disorder" that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees (National Health Society Council, 2012). This is a disease that has a major impact upon the family of the child with this disorder, which include emotional, functional, social, financial, and many more factors that are being discovered daily. The precise cause of Autism is not known however, researchers have been and still are examining the genetic and environmental causes. The above example shows only a few examples of autistic behavior. However this paper will be focusing mainly on the emotional effects on the parents of a child with ASD, the emotional and social effect on siblings of a child with ASD, and the adaption and coping strategies the family can take to help become a closer, stronger, and more cohesive family, with time. Raising a child with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be extremely stressful for parents. A Parent will never be prepared to hear the diagnosis of autism in their child. It is very normal for a parent to experience a range of emotions. Parents want their children to be healthy so much when their child gets this diagnosis they may feel some of the stages commonly associated with grieving. Some of the stages associated with the grieving process may be: shock, sadness, anger, denial, loneliness/rejection, disappointment, and even powerlessness (NICHCY, 2003). Immediately after the diagnosis a parent may feel stunned or confused. The reality of the diagnosis may be so overwhelming that they are not ready to accept it. After this emotion many parents tend to question the diagnosis or search for another doctor who will tell them something different. Many parents also must mourn some of the hopes and dreams they had for their child before they can move on. There will probably be many times when a parent will feel extremely sad. With time, sadness may evolve into anger. Although anger is a natural part of the process, parents may find that it's directed at people around them that they love, like their child, spouse, friends or at the world in general. A feeling of resentment toward parents of normal children is also very expected. Some parents may also go through periods of refusing to believe what is happening to their child. This emotion is not consciously chosen, it just happens. During this time, parents may not be able to hear all the facts as they deal their child's diagnosis and this could prolong the child’s treatment process to begin. Isolated and loneliness may come from the fact that since it’s a new situation there is simply not enough time to contact friends or family for company or, that nobody would understand the situation. Family members may each process the diagnosis in different ways, and at different rates. It will take every parent time to understand their child's disorder diagnosis and the impact it has on their family. Difficult emotions may resurface from time to time. There may be times when a...
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