Is Family Counseling For Autism Right For Your Family?
In today’s world, many individuals struggle with autism. In addition to impacting the individual who suffers from the condition, autism can have a profound effect on the family members of the person struggling with the disease. In many cases, the long-standing emotional, physical, and social impact of autism leaves the sufferer and family members feeling powerless and demotivated. Luckily, there is a wide range of strategies individuals can utilize to reclaim their personal power, help their family members, and continue living productive, positive lives. One of the most effective ways for families to move forward in the face of autism is with family counseling. Read on to learn more about this important topic:
Autism: A Brief Overview
Although understood broadly, autism is simply defined as a serious developmental disorder that impairs the individual’s ability to effectively communicate. In addition to experiencing challenges when attempting to communicate with others, individuals who suffer from autism oftentimes find it difficult to maintain long-standing friendships and relationships. In many cases, individuals with autism also have challenges with adapting to change. Generally, people with autism (or ASD, autism spectrum disorder) rely on parents and siblings into their adulthood. Due to this reliance, family members tend to experience substantive, ongoing stress. Oftentimes, the autism-related stress that family members undergo leads to other unwanted conditions such as depression.
The Benefits Of Family Counseling
Many research studies have indicated that family counseling can be an incredibly effective way for individuals to grapple with the unique challenges presented by autism. Specifically, many studies indicate that family counseling improves coping and communication skills. Family therapy is helpful for many reasons, including the fact that it provides individuals with a medium through which to make sense of difficult situations. The therapy also enables family members to work with one another for the purpose of developing new ways to think about and grapple with the challenges posed by autism.
So…How Exactly Does Family Counseling For Autism Benefit Us?
There are several ways that obtaining family counseling for autism can benefit individuals. Here are a few of them:
1. Adjusting To The Autism Diagnosis.
As many individuals who have worked in the field of therapeutic relationship occupational therapy know, learning that your child has been diagnosed with autism can be a traumatic experience. In many cases, the diagnostic process takes a year and involves family members visiting multiple professionals in hopes of attaining accurate information and effective treatment. By enrolling in a counseling program, family members can gain advice, insight, and encouragement that will help with the process of receiving a diagnosis and responding accordingly. Within the counseling setting, industry experts will empower parents and siblings to grapple with a wide range of emotions, some of which may include fear, hope, excessive worry, guilt, anxiety, and doubt about the likelihood of a holistically healthy future for all parties involved.
2. Development And Enhancement Of Parenting Skills.
Parenting a child that falls within the neuro-typical framework is quite different from providing care, support, and love to a young person who is struggling with autism. Some of the things that parents with children who have autism must continually consider include safety concerns, medical interventions, therapeutic decisions, and sensory issues. In many cases, children with autism also experience self-regulation difficulties and health conditions. Parents who grapple with all of these realities will oftentimes find themselves overwhelmed, confused, and helpless. In the counseling setting, parents will attain the expert advice and ongoing care necessary to help them recognize how to shift and continually optimize their parenting skills in a way that makes them relevant and effective to the immediate needs of their child.
3. Stress Management.
As many health experts and wellness professionals know stress plays an integral role in the development of numerous degenerative diseases and illnesses. Unfortunately, stress can literally make us sick. This is an important psychosomatic reality to remain cognizant of when you are raising a child who suffers from autism. Luckily, there is a wide range of strategies that family members can employ to effectively limit and combat the stress they experience when dealing with the condition. Counselors help family members deal with stress in multiple effective ways, one of which includes providing a supportive ear. Additionally, counselors assist parents and siblings with the acquisition of self-care skills which can prevent them from developing low self-esteem, mental instability, and other unwanted conditions that can stem from stress.
4. Maintaining Strong Spousal Connections.
Unfortunately, statistics indicate that parents of children diagnosed with autism have a slightly higher divorce rate than the general populace. Members of this population are also known to experience higher rates of marital discord. This reality may seem unsurprising given the fact that providing care for an autistic child can be stressful and enervating. At some point, many parents of children with autism realize that the emotional upheavals that they endure in the face of the disease are negatively impacting the quality of their marital relationship. While the disease does not have to engender divorce, it can. In recognizing this reality, many counselors are pleased to provide families with marital strategies and classes specifically designed to help partners recognize and effectively respond to stressors that could be adversely impacting their relationships.
What Should I Look For In A Service Provider?
Once you realize that attaining family counseling can facilitate effective treatment for children on the spectrum as well as stress relief for all family members involved, you may be ready to start looking for a service provider. If this is the case, there are several things you should keep in mind. First, make sure that you thoroughly research the service provider you are considering before committing to any services. Luckily, the internet makes it easy to research organizations that provide counseling services. By going on the organization’s website, you should be able to gather information regarding the educational background and credentials of the professionals who are providing counseling services. You should also try to gather more information about the service provider by visiting the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website and determining whether the organization has attained a reputable rating.
Another strategy you should deploy when searching for the right service provider is determining which services they offer. In many cases, families may find it advantageous to attain comprehensive services. This is one way to make sure that “all bases are covered” when it comes to the emotional, physical, psychological, and relational development of all parties who are receiving counseling services. In the counseling setting, family members may receive group and/or individual counseling. Look on the websites of specific service providers to see what they offer.
Summing It All Up
Once you realize that a loved one is struggling with autism, it’s time to take action. One of the best ways to preserve and enhance the holistic health of the entire family is by attaining professional counseling services. Review the information found in the article above to determine whether attaining family counseling for autism would be the right decision for your family.