The Unique Parenting Challenges are Faced by the Parents of Special Children
For typical children, parenting experiences are shared by other parents whereas the unique parenting
challenges are faced by the parents of special children. Mobility and Inclusion of the parents as well
as children are affected many a times. Even though careful analysis often reveals abilities, habitual
tendency to perceive the disabilities from society’s part often hinders effective normalization and
proper rehabilitation. All impose severe identity crisis and role restrictions even in knowledgeable
parents.. In some conditions, as in the case of physical challenges, the child needs physical reassurance
and support from the parents as against those conditions of cognitive deficits in which the demands
are always parent’s constant attention and feedback. As far as autism is concerned, the child’s deficits
are social, emotional, communicational, sensual, as well as behavioral.
According to DSM 5, Autism spectrum, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism
spectrum condition (ASC), is a range of neuro developmental disorders that includes autism and related
conditions. Individuals on the spectrum present with two types of symptoms: problems in social
communication and social interaction, and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities.
Symptoms are usually identified between one and two years of age. Long term problems may include
difficulties in creating and keeping relationships, maintaining a job, and performing daily tasks.
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Here the parents have to constantly shift their focus across these domains so as to make the child lighter
and better. Here the parenting stress is not solely due to the management of child’s behavior. But it is due
to the financial requirements, social requirements, inter personal requirements and socio demographic
requirements posited for the activity.
In Everyday Advocate: Standing up for your child with Autism, Areva Martin points out seven
principles that should be applied for the parents having a child with autism spectrum disorder .These
are taking the responsibility and becoming the leader, learn to be an expert, think critically and be
discern, speak with authority and be proactive, document and be prepared ,collaborate and be a team and
finally educate and be the voice of the child.
Parenting stress and perceived parenting stress are higher for the parents with ASD children. Even
though in most of the studies no difference was found between the parents of ID and ASD children in
parenting stress, much higher a difference was found between these groups and parents of typical
children. Perceived parenting stress and quality of life of the mothers of special children were compared
with that of the mothers of typical children (Kalarani KS, Dr Raakhee AS, Reshma SS) and found that
perceived parenting stress was higher for special child’s mother where as within group differences were
not significant between the mothers of children with ASD and ID.
In quality of life, special and typical mothers differed in physical aspect at 5 percent level. Depression, Anxiety and Marital discord are often
reported as outcomes of disability stress.Contextual factors associated with enhanced
parental mood was studied by Colin G. Pottie et al and found that emotional and instrumental supports
improved the moods but unsupportive aspects as well as Perceived stress often influence the coping. Stress dealing varies with respect to individual
competencies, environmental resources, immediacy, multiplicity and chronicity of the events. Difference
in the stress perception can either be due to the differences in the psychological make up or be due to
the importance given to the stress and mediating factors like financial and internal control.
Parenting stress will be higher during initial stages of diagnosis when’ ambiguous loss’ emerges and the
five stages of coping results. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance all can be noted. If
parents, for some reason or another could not come out of the denial, find difficult in complying with
the ongoing treatment and evaluations. On the other hand, if they accept the condition, interventions,
secondary preventions and rehabilitations would faster be initiated. Depression and anxiety
are often noted among the parents of ID and ASD. Lack of awareness, lack of resources and lack of
effective social networks breed depression. For parents of ID children, as they are aware of the
incapacitating condition of the child, and as the child could reciprocate to at least a minimum level,
the possibility of developing an emotional bond with the child exists. This less happens with a child
According to DSM 5, Intellectual Disability, is a developmental problem characterized by
impairment in intelligence and adaptive behavior. Intelligence Quotient will be below 70.As in Autism
Spectrum disorder, where we have low functioning, moderate functioning and high functioning autism,
there are gradations of adaptivity like mild, moderate, severe and profound in Intellectual disability also.
So parenting aspects also varies across the continuum. In contrast to these’ parenting ‘so called normal
children requires usual parenting skills like being a good model, managing one’s own emotions, being
an authoritative parent, inculcate moral skills, responsibility skills ,social and emotional skills and so on.