Are You Letting Autism Ruin Your Marriage?

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fighting parents. fighting parents

When you got married, you felt like you were the perfect couple.  You seemed to agree on just about everything. 

Then you had a child with autism, and everything changed.  Suddenly, you and your mate seem to arguing all the time -- or you never see each other.  It feels like autism came between you, and there's no way back.

What's really going on?

Of course, autism in itself can't split up a loving couple.

  But autism can add new problems to your life, and it can also make small differences appear bigger.  Sometimes, parents take such different approaches to addressing a child's autism that they really can't see eye to eye.

Here are just a few of the ways in which autism in the family can put stress on a marriage

Autism takes time.  When you have a child with autism, you're much busier than ever before -- with therapies, IEP's (special education contracts with the school), doctors, and more.  That means you have less time for one another.  Some people find it very difficult to adjust to less together time, and may feel jealous, frustrated, or ignored.

Autism takes money.  Even when your school district and health insurance cover most costs that are directly related to autism, you're still spending more out of pocket than you would for a typical child.  You want a baby sitter?  You may have to pay extra for someone with special needs experience.

  You want to send your child to summer camp?  Chances are, you'll be paying much more for that "special" camp than you would for a typical camp program.  When money is tight, anxiety rises -- and relationships are strained.

Autism can cause disagreements.  Mom is convinced that her son's autism was caused by a measles vaccine.

  Dad thinks this is a pile of nonsense, and disagrees vehemently.  He points to various relatives who, he says, prove that his son's autism is genetic.  Mom wants to spend money on X therapy, while Dad feels that Y therapy is the best choice.  Mom wants their son to go to a private school for kids on the spectrum while Dad is convinced that public school and inclusion is the best option.  At a certain point, all that disagreement can lead to serious friction and arguments.

Autism can be isolating.  Many people find that parenting is a great way to meet new friends.  While some parents of kids with autism feel the same way, most don't.  Kids with autism don't generally have lots of friends, join typical clubs, or play in team sports.  It can be excruciatingly difficult to see your child with autism wander around the field while other kids hit home runs, or ignore the Scout Master while other kids earn their badges.  As a result, parents of autistic children may become increasingly reclusive -- and isolation can lead to loneliness, depression, and resentment.

Autism can lead to the blame game.  Whose fault is it that your child is autistic?  Whose fault is it that he's not getting better?  Whose family carries the autism gene?  Who isn't taking enough responsibility for the time and costs involved with providing therapy or working on communication and social skills?  No matter how hard either parent tries, there's always something more that could be done -- and in some relationships, there's always someone to point that out.

Do any of these issues sound familiar to you?  If so, you may be headed for relationship trouble.  Now is a great time to take stock of your situation, and take time (away from your child with autism) to discuss your concerns.  Yes, autism is tough.  But your relationship may be tough enough to handle it!

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