A Project of the Child Trends News Service Supported by the National Science Foundation

Kids with Autism: How Dads Can Improve Mom’s Mental Health

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire)—Parents of children with disabilities face all kinds of challenges, and COVID has only made it more difficult. Many times, moms take on the bulk of child care responsibilities at the expense of their mental health. Now a new study suggests dads can help.

Being a mom of a child with a disability is a 24/7 job, and it can take its toll. One study found 50 percent of moms of children with autism had elevated levels of depression. Now COVID is adding extra stress. A recent Urban Institute Report revealed many of the services and programs to help kids with disabilities have been reduced or completely eliminated.

A new study shows fathers play an important role in supporting a mother’s mental health. Researchers examined a sample of 3,550 children and their parents. They found moms of kids with autism reported fewer symptoms of depression when fathers read regularly with the child as early as nine months old. Additionally, the scientists say dads may lessen a mother’s depression when they engage in consistent, responsive caregiving, such as soothing a child when they’re upset. While they might not eliminate a mother’s stress entirely, this research shows that fathers’ actions can help relieve mothers’ stress.

Some other ways moms of kids with autism can reduce symptoms of depression include finding a support group with other parents, journaling to relieve stress, and seeking respite care for your child so you can get a break. If your symptoms interfere with your daily life, you might want to seek professional help from a therapist who has experience working with families with children with disabilities.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Julie Marks, Field Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES)

 Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4433150/

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