Social Support for Parents of Autistic Kids
Social support for parents of autistic children is paramount. Raising a child with special needs is lovely, rewarding, and a blessing in many ways. However, it can also be tiring, stressful, and overwhelming at times. Having social support can significantly increase a person’s well-being. The four types of social support needed for a healthy and happy life include:
- Emotional support (expressions of empathy, love, and trust).
- Instrumental support (tangible aid and service).
- Informational support (advice, suggestions, and information).
- Appraisal support (information for self-evaluation).
Research shows that parents who receive social support have better mental health. In the article titled, “Time demands of caring for children with autism: what are the implications for maternal mental health?” the author discusses the stress mothers of children with autism face. It cites that mothers who do not receive emotional support are more prone to stress and mental health disorders. On the other hand, supported mothers experience less stress and have better mental health overall. Similarly, social support is essential for the fathers of autistic children, as pointed out in an article by the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research.
How to find help
We have talked about the importance of receiving social support; now, let’s talk about how to access it! Did you know that man agencies in Spokane offer free support groups for parents of children with disabilities? SOAR Behavior Services facilitates informational support groups on the last Thursday of every month from 6:45 pm-8 pm. For more information, contact Katrina Boik at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to register. Other support groups include Mom’s Night Out by The ISAAC Foundation and Parent to Parent Support Groups by The Arc of Spokane. For teens, Disability Action Center facilitates monthly Mental Health Mondays. Additional resources can be found at Spokane Regional Health District.
Sawyer, M. G., Bittman, M., La Greca, A., M., Crettenden, A. D., Harchak, T. F., & Martin, J. (2010). Time demands of caring for children with autism: What are the implications for maternal mental health? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40(5), 620-8. doi:http://dx.doi.org.library.capella.edu/10.1007/s10803-009-0912-3
Pisula, E., & Banasiak, A. (2020). Empowerment in polish fathers of children with autism and down syndrome: The role of social support and coping with stress – a preliminary report. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 64(6), 434-441. https://doi.org/10.1111/jir.12681
For more blog posts by SOAR Behavior Services, visit soarbehaviorwa.com/family-resources.