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  • Did you know? Parent training benefits not just kids, but caregivers too
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Did you know? Parent training benefits not just kids, but caregivers too

In November 2020, a study was published that revealed parents of children with autism spectrum disorder, compared to a control group, showed much higher signs of stress, due to the challenges of managing unexpected events, the feeling of the loss of control, and fear of not being able to cope. It proved the need for interventions that incorporate parent training for the purposes of supporting an autistic child’s development, because the stress levels of a parent of a child with autism is remarkably higher than parents of kids who don’t.

Experts agree that parents must be able to feel supported and get help to be able to better respond to their autistic children’s behavioral challenges, in ways that support learning emotional regulation skills. Whole-family interventions are certainly designed to address the well-being not just of the child, but of the entire family.

The study was published in the journal Autism and Developmental Language Impairments. In this study, parents of autistic kids between the ages of two and six participated in a survey that asked about their stress levels. The kids were profiled, and details about behaviors and sensory needs were included.

The study compared the responses of two groups. The first group were made up of those whose children were either at risk for autism or already diagnosed with autism, while the second group were made up of parents whose children had a language impairment. The connection was that both groups studied children with language disorders, so researchers sought out the differences that might be specific to autism (which is not limited to verbal communication issues, but behavioral challenges as well).

What they found was that parents with a child with autism spectrum disorder were much more stressed thanks to their child’s challenges, including emotional control, focus, responses to sensory input and impulsivity. Their stress was connected to their abilities to respond to the difficult behaviors outlined in the survey.

Such difficulties, the study concluded, represent an elevated level of stress for parents of kids with autism. For this reason, it’s so important to support not just the child receiving treatment, but the parent too – because how parents respond during treatment has been proven to affect the child’s learning and overall outcome.

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