The Importance of a Father Figure for a Child with Autism

It’s crucial for any child to have a strong mother and father figure in their life. It helps them develop and acquire healthy self-esteem as well as a positive outlook on their identity. However, in many families the father isn’t as present as the mother when it comes to caregiving which in turn disrupts the child’s well-being and sense of stability. According to a recent study, it’s even more imperative for a child with autism to be able to depend on a supportive father figure who is engaged and invested in his role.

Researchers at the University of Illinois have found that when dads participate in activities with kids on autism spectrum, the child sees a noticeable improvement in their overall development and the mother is less apt to suffer from depression. Activities might include the father reading a story, playing with toys, calming the child down when they are upset, or taking them to the doctor when they feel sick. Since mothers demonstrate higher levels of stress when they take care of a child with autism, the father’s involvement becomes of special importance to the well-being of both parents. 

“One of the key criteria of autism is difficulty with communication, which may explain why these children’s mothers are especially susceptible to stress and depression,” explains one of the main conductors of the study Daniel J. Laxman. Since children with autism struggle with communication, it’s essential for the father to spend time every day reading or singing songs to his child in order for the child to improve his or her vocabulary and grasp on verbal communication. 

The study analyzed the development of the child at nine months, two years old, and four years old in order to get a clear picture of the benefits of a firm paternal role. The data has been quite groundbreaking since many previous researchers focused on the importance of the mother role and reduced the significance of the father. This might be due to society’s expectations of dads not playing as much of a central part in the upbringing of a child. The study dismisses such preconceived cultural norms and indicates that both parents are integral to the structure of a family. 

“It’s very important that men fully understand the reasons why their support and active engagement in parenting is so critical for the family’s functioning and for the child,” states Brent A. McBride, director of the Child Development Laboratory at Illinois. However, it’s also necessary for the parents to come to an agreement over the parenting methods they will inflict on the child to not create an even more stressful environment. A mother and a father will have different perspectives and points of view when it comes to discipline but the child needs to feel a sense of harmony within the family. 

For additional information, please visit: PsychCentral.14125302252_77be5c7efe_z

By Edgar Catasus

Parents Look Out for Adult Kids with Autism and Create Jobs Themselves

With Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) affecting the social and communication skills of those diagnosed, getting a job and then maintaining it, can be very challenging. Each year, 50,000 children diagnosed with autism reach the age of 18. Not all make that transition into college, and even less enjoy the stability of a job.  Experiencing the lack of jobs or careers for those diagnosed with autism, parents of adults with autism hashed out an innovative company that caters to this group of the population.

Extraordinary Ventures is a non-profit business born in Chapel Hill, NC. Lori Ireland, along with other parents, wanted to ensure that their children had a future applying their unique skills to jobs that fit them best. Extraordinary Ventures businesses include, cleaning city buses, making gifts or candles.  If someone is into the outdoors, maybe they can work at an organic farm, or if artistry is where their interest lies, they might have a hand in a silk screening t-shirt business.  An idea such as this helps ensure peace of mind for parents who know they won’t be around every step of the way with their children.  Instead of kids being frustrated by not doing anything day in and day out, this provides them with a productive outlet.  This idea has grown such that Autism Speaks is collaborating with Extraordinary Ventures to hold Town-hall style meetings in 9 cities around the country. The purpose is to educate people about how small and local businesses can employ those diagnosed with autism, and initiate discussion on the importance of doing so.

According to a survey published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, a little more than 50% of high school graduates, with an ASD diagnosis, have held a paid job. This is the lowest number on the scale of those affected by a mental disability including emotional issues, speech and language disorders, and learning disabilities. Paul Shattuck who is an associate professor at Drexel University’s Autism Institute in Philadelphia, and who helped conduct the research says that the underlying reason for those affected with autism not having a high job success rate could be their lack of social and communication skills.

According to him, “More and more jobs in our economy require that you successfully interact with other people as part of your job — that is your job.” This “is uniquely disabling for people on the autism spectrum.” This is where Lori Ireland’s Extraordinary Ventures business comes in. It helps integrate those diagnosed with autism into society, and makes them a viable member of it.

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