In this episode I interview Dakin Stovall who is a research psychology PhD student at BYU about her research on the impact of autism on families and on mothers specifically. Here is some of her findings. If you aren’t raising an autistic child, you probably have a friend who is.
o 1/44 by age 8 new CDC estimates from Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html
o You’ve probably seen a mom wrestle a kid at the grocery store, maybe you thought, “Why can’t she handle her child?” and I hope after this interview you might think with compassion, “Raising a neurodiverse child doesn’t come with a manual. It comes with a mother who never gives up.
o Parents of ASD kids experience significantly more stress when compared to parents of typically developing children (Lai et al., 2015; Pisula, 2007)
§ and even when compared to parents of children with other disabilities (Dabrowska & Pisula, 2010). Down syndrome
§ researchers followed moms of adolescents with ASD for 8 days, found stress levels similar to combat veterans (measured hormone). (Seltzer, Greenberg, Stawski, 2010), 2x tired, 3x experienced stressful event
o Mothers of children with ASD report greater stress than fathers.
o depression diagnosis more likely (Cohrs & Leslie, 2017).
o Rates of parental depression further increase when there is more than one autistic child in a family (ASD runs like a river through families).
o Negative emotion is more common in depressed parents, minimizing positive responses to children, straining the parent-child relationship (Shaw et al., 2006).
o autistic child is directly affected by the strain,
o research shift toward prevention measures to aid parents rearing ASD children.
o it is critical that parents have the strategies needed to first care for themselves
§ if mom isn’t ok, no one is ok
o parents need skills to improve relationship with their chil
Emotional Intelligence/competence – your emotion, others, regulation
§ “The moment we realize that how we react to our kid’s behavior has more to do with how we’re feeling than what our kids are doing, is the moment we understand that our main job as parents must be to keep ourselves emotionally healthy.”
§ Gottman (PMEP), explained that parents’ own feelings about their personal emotions guide the ways in which they parent.
· Emotion dismissing (not attending to emotion, ex: child comes home from school and throws his backpack on the island and mumbles something under his breath, you don’t look up from your phone, bc you’re reading an article and he walks into the next room) vs emotion coaching (30% = successful) (You notice the throw, you hear the mumble and recognize this could be an opportunity to connect with your child about his day. You ask about child’s day, listening, offer empathy.
o reflective parents provide favorable responses to child emotion.
Tuning Into kids 5 steps:
o Notice emotions – rumbling volcano o Recognize emotion as opportunities to connect
o Label emotion
o Empathy and understanding
o Set limits, Problem solving
BYU has a Facebook group for parents of kids on the spectrum that anyone is welcome to join. Link below
BYU autism behavior lab
See if you qualify for the latest study on kids on the spectrum and the impact on families.
look at the research opportunities