Even with the best of intentions and the highest level of devotion, parents who are caring for a child who is on the autism spectrum know that help comes in many forms. It could be in the form of helping with a sibling who needs a little extra TLC, for example.
For the parents themselves however, more often than not, respite care isn’t something family or friends can provide. A child with ASD who requires a fair amount of specialized care might be uncomfortable being with someone who is unfamiliar with the protocols that they usually follow. So it falls to parents to manage most of the care for that child.
A 2013 study found that parents of children with autism experienced higher stress living environments and were at a much higher risk for a lower marital quality than other parents. The study looked at 101 sets of parents with at least one child with ASD and discovered:
- The number of hours of respite care was positively related to improved marital quality for both husbands and wives;
- Each extra hour of respite care was associated with increased uplifts and reduced stress;
- Increased uplifts were associated with improved marital quality.
It doesn’t take a wizard to see the direct correlation between increased respite care and increased happiness.
Another interesting study revealed that respite care had a higher impact on families than autism therapy, for reducing the risk of hospitalization for a child with ASD. This matters since previous research discovered that children with the ASD were far more likely to be hospitalized than their peers who had other developmental conditions.
“Raising a child with ASD is fraught with challenges and can place considerable stress on families. In many cases, hospitalization may result as much from the stress the child’s behavior places on the family as from the behavior.” (Source)
The result of the study? “Each $1000 increase in spending on respite care during the preceding 60 days resulted in an 8% decrease in the odds of hospitalization in adjusted analysis.”
For parents with a child on the spectrum, it’s not just about having time off. It’s about finding someone they can trust with their child and that their child will accept. Having respite care when the parent is forever worrying about the status of the child isn’t respite at all. It’s just geography. The importance of engaging qualified nurses and practitioners who are trained to deal with the manifestations of ASD is essential.
Respite care is one of those support services that isn’t just for the person to whom it is directed, but in fact helps the whole family to cope with the higher stress living environment that ASD can sometimes create. For Mom and Dad to be able to get out and have a meal, spend quality time with a sibling or see a movie, knowing that their child is in good hands, is priceless.
If your family includes someone with ASD, get in touch with us to see how we can help you get a break and breathe. It’s what we do.