Upon receiving an autism diagnosis, a child is referred to an autism specialist and treated with behavioral therapy, dietary changes and sometimes medication. The process can be stressful and confusing to the child. But in addition to the diagnosed children, their parents also tend to experience high levels of stress. They may feel depressed, isolated and helpless. Parents of autistic children often benefit from sessions at a counseling center as well.
A new study suggests a particular kind of cognitive therapy might be beneficial to mothers of autistic children. The technique is known as problem-solving education, or PSE, and has been shown to help mothers of children who have been diagnosed with autism. Researchers conducted a clinical trial with 122 mothers of recently diagnosed children under six years old. 59 mothers received six sessions of PSE, while the other 63 mothers received standard behavioral care. Results showed a lower number of PSE mothers had high stress and depressive symptoms.
More research is being done on PSE and its effect on parents of autistic children, but this sheds some light on the extreme importance of parental self-care, especially when special needs children are involved. If you have a child who has been diagnosed with autism and you have yet to seek treatment for yourself, contact Dr. Tucker, a psychiatrist in Costa Mesa, CA, for an appointment.