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Support Services Beneficial to the Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Support Services Beneficial to the Parents About one in 68 children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism is a group of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by impaired social and communication skills and behaviors. While autism has a huge impact on children, it also significantly impacts their parents.

Parents of autistic children report higher levels of stress, depression, and caregiver burden as compared to parents of children with typical development. These mental health conditions can be associated with more disruptions from physical health problems and lower overall health-related quality of life.

One way to combat the stress associated with caring for an autistic child is social support. Formal social support is provided by health or social service professionals, and informal social support is provided by family, friends, and significant others.

One study looked at blood samples of parents caring for an autistic child, self-reported levels of formal and informal social support, and a self-reported health questionnaire. Blood samples were tested for levels of inflammation, which is the body’s reaction to infection, injury, and psychological and physical stress. Inflammation is an important marker for physical and mental health as high levels of inflammation is associated with several age-related diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancers, autoimmune diseases, dementia, and early mortality.

The study found that greater levels of informal support (family and friends) were associated with lower levels of inflammation. Lower levels of inflammation and better self-reported physical health was associated with greater levels of formal social support (health and social service professionals). This study highlights the fact that both informal social support and formal social support for the parents of autistic children can produce health benefits. These benefits can become more important as the parents of autistic children age, which is when many inflammation and age-related conditions begin to appear.

Dr. Kothari treats many children with autism spectrum disorder, but her formal support services may also be helpful to the parents of autistic children. Dr. Kothari’s expertise in child and adult psychiatric services can help benefit parents who may be suffering from depression, anxiety, and stress related to caring for their autistic child. She can also refer parents to psychologists trained in counseling those affected by autism spectrum disorders, and can be a resource for both formal and informal support services within the Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Coral Springs, and Parkland area communities.

  • American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine
  • Princeton University
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