Hello to all! I am new here. I haven't ever done this before and I am very nervous. I was just wondering if anyone has or is going through what it looks like I am. I have a 3 year old little boy named Mark, that is my pride and joy. He was diagnosed with Autism about 3 months ago. I knew it was something, just was very surprised when we were told. We have always been a few close family, or so I thought. Now my husband acts like he wants nothing to do with Mark. He started working late and volunteering for overtime, I think to avoid being home and facing this tremendous blow we have been dealt. Since Mark's diagnoses, he has drifted further away and now has mentioned divorce. I am so overwhelmed I don't know what to do. I am a stay at home mom, my family means everything to me. Not to carry on and on, but has anyone else been through this? Has anyone's family life been destroyed because of a diagnoses of Autism? How do you cope? Please help as I feel like my world is crumbling around me.
I'm sorry you have to go through this. I have heard from many that marriages can be rough after a diagnosis of autism. My husband and I went for group counciling (there where about 5 other couples in the group that had an autistic child) after our son was diagnosed and therapy was the best thing for our marriage. After our son was first diagnosed, I went out and bought lots of books and researched everything I could find to help our son....and my husband shut down and slepted alot, and was getting very frustrated because our son wouldn't talk and he stimmed out a lot....it was really hard on him. Anyway, with counciling, the therapist told him that we need to be a team and that our son needs both of us to help him and that we need a healthy marriage too by going out on a date once a week with the two of us just to unwind and not mention the word autism. It was so hard the first year, but are marriage is much stronger now. I think you really need to go to counciling together so you can express your feelings to each other and with the therapist there, he can help your husband get out of denial so he can be there for his family. I think it would be good to buy some books on biomedical treatments for autism too so your husband is aware that these kids can improve drastically...that could be a big fear for him and he just doesn't want to be around now because he feels like he lost control because he is not familure yet with all the internal problems these kids have....I know that was one of my fears...that I can not help my son and I felt like a failure. Men cope very differently then woman when things do not go right. Anyway, with time and help from a therapist, he should come around.
I would agree that hopefully you can talk your husband into at least making a try at counseling for all of you before he throws in the towel. Discovering your child is autistic can be devastating on so many levels, and I do think it affects the dads differently than the moms. I'm blessed to have a wonderful husband who is a great father, and even he had a difficult time dealing with it. I was struggling with what do we do, how do we approach this, doctors, therapists, etc....dealing with not only my grief but also the overwhelming task of actually figuring out what to do...and he would barely talk about it with me. It took him months - and a few independent verifications - before he would actually believe the diagnosis.
Please ask your husband if he will consider family counseling before going through something as final as a divorce. He has nothing to lose by at least trying it, and everything to gain.
And, should things eventually turn out badly, remember, you and your son WILL make it. There are a lot of resources out there these days for autism, and a lot of progress being made. Your son needs you, and I know you will be there for him. God bless.
I agree that counciling is definitely in need for this situation - but it will only be benificial IF the husband is actually willing to go. Men tend to shut down and go into avoidance mode after something happens in a relationship. They prefer to ignore or push the problem away instead of actually standing up to it and addressing it and finding a solution. You do have to admit though that this is a pretty selfish solution - just getting out of the marriage isn't going to make the fact that he has a child with autism go away.
I'm sure because it's only been 3 months, this is all still very shocking to him. I admittedly was extremely depressed about the sitation and I will even go so far as to admit that I was upset with my choice in a husband. If I had not been with him, I thought, I wouldn't have a child with autism. I could be raising a healthy family instead. Of course I've come to my senses and realized that I can't put the entire blame on him - I could very well have had an autistic child with someone else. Part of my blaming was due to the fact that my husband traveled a great deal for work and the majority of the time I was at home alone with my son. It's not a good thing to have the responsibility of being the ONLY ONE to take care of a child with special needs - I know many times I thought I was gonna go nuts. What is needed is a team effort by BOTH parents to take care of a child like this especially in the beginning stages. It not only helps for raising the child, but it shows the child what a family unit is.
I know a big reason your husband is drawing away is because when you get the autism diagnosis, you automatically think your child is doomed and will never live a full life. I felt this way for a long time - I couldn't envision the future - it felt like I was forced to take care of an infant for the rest of my life and there would be a stigma attached to him. It's been about 2 years since we knew something was very wrong with him, and it's only been a year since we got the official diagnosis of autism, but my son is now SO MUCH better than before and with his speech therapies, public schooling in early childhood classes, occupational therapy, special behavioral control (we use a pass system to control some obsessive tendencies he has ) and just time itself - he's beginning to mainstream. Our goal is to eventually control his undesirable behaviors and get him socially acclimated to the point that no one else will know he has autism at first impression. I warn you though, it's a tough road at first because the raising (and teaching) of an autistic child is completely different for raising quote unquote "normal" children - but it's just as rewarding - in fact, and here's the secret - it's more so.
Perhaps it would do your husband good to read about a woman named Temple Grandin. (type that name into your search engine) She's a PH.D, an assistant professor at Colorado State University, an inventor, and she is autistic. Her story gave me hope for my son and made me see that he's going to get older, wiser and learn to cope with his disability. I suggest you also print out your message and the answers you've gotten from other parents here to show him that you and he are not the only parents in the world with an autistic child.....your child hasn't been given a sentence to be doomed in life - you merely have to find a different way to enable him to learn things. Just because you have a child with a disability doesn't mean you shouldn't push them to perform to the best of their abilities.
This isn't going to be much help, but i had a really hard time when my son was diagnosed with autism, I couldn't sleep and i kept thinking I had to have done something wrong. I even went as far as to thinking if i left he might be better off. Thank goodness I didn't(but I came really close). I went to the doctor and got on a low dose of paxil for myself and it helped me look at things in a new way, and not lay awake at night blaming myself, I now know there is nothing I could have done, unless perhaps I had known more about vaccines.
But the paxil has helped me see things as not so hopeless, and I dont know, maybe that with some therapy would help. I wish you the best of luck and if you ever need to talk, I know you don't know me, but I am here if there is anything I can do.
Just think, if they were not autistic, they would not be the children we love today. I think that if this is a challenge God has sent my way, this one is going to be easy.
[This message has been edited by JayLynn (edited 04-17-2003).]
I agree JayLynn...in fact - I've always said that it's as if God put an actual angel on earth ....my son fits that. He smiles all the time, is happy all the time and wants to learn about everything and he doesn't have a mean bone in his body. Yeah...it's like looking after an angel that came down to earth to find out what being human is like.
My son is very happy and loving as well. It's odd because I have a mentally retarded brother, and growing up I always cared for him. I always thought that if he had better parenting, he would have learned so much more and would be able to function so much better in the world. Now, here I am with my own special child, and my own child is much better off than my brother, but now is my chance to be the parent my brother did not have. I feel like as long as there is that little inch of being able to learn, you can take that and run with it. I always tell the doctors that my child is going to be fine. He will learn and eventually function like everyone else. I don't have any proof to back this up, but I know it in my heart. The doctors never offer any words to support my beliefs, but it doesn't matter. I believe my son will function normally, and be the special person he already is, that means he will be even better than the average person. All of you who are feeling discouraged or down, just remember you live what you create. Try to find the good in everything and that's what your life will become.
[quote]Originally posted by marksmom:
[b]Hello to all! I am new here. I haven't ever done this before and I am very nervous. I was just wondering if anyone has or is going through what it looks like I am. I have a 3 year old little boy named Mark, that is my pride and joy. He was diagnosed with Autism about 3 months ago. I knew it was something, just was very surprised when we were told. We have always been a few close family, or so I thought. Now my husband acts like he wants nothing to do with Mark. He started working late and volunteering for overtime, I think to avoid being home and facing this tremendous blow we have been dealt. Since Mark's diagnoses, he has drifted further away and now has mentioned divorce. I am so overwhelmed I don't know what to do. I am a stay at home mom, my family means everything to me. Not to carry on and on, but has anyone else been through this? Has anyone's family life been destroyed because of a diagnoses of Autism? How do you cope? Please help as I feel like my world is crumbling around me.[/b][/quote]
Hi Marksmom, this is a very common problem. My suggestin to you and I have seen this help some couples---find a group in your area of other parents who are going through the same thing. You will form a common bond and friendships with people who understand. Straight counceling is not usually the answer because you and your husband will still be isolated from others who can truly understand!! And any problems that a relationship has and all relationships have some problems become magnified when you are isolated and feeling helpless. Perhaps this will help. If your husband does not want to go, you go and talk and make new friends and then have a small picnic at your home with these new friends. Or you could just meet for a walk in the park or any other place suitable to the situation of the children involved. I really think that would help your husband, you , Mark and your marriage. Hope to hear from you soon. Sincerely yours, Rebeckah
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