Moms of Autistic Kids Cope Well
Under Stress but Show Great Strength, Study Shows
WebMD News Archive
May 7, 2007 -- The shock of a mother finding out her child has autism is
life-changing for most. But a new study shows moms can fare well emotionally
and still have a strong bond with their child.
Christina Adams says when her son Jonah’s diagnosis was confirmed around the
time of his third birthday, her life changed forever.
In an instant she was transformed from the mother of a bright but somewhat
"different" little boy into the mother of a child with autism.
“It is a terrifying, horrific time when you realize that your life is never
going to be the same again,” she tells WebMD. “But it is also a watershed
moment when your love for your child becomes more than you ever dreamed it
Moms Cope Well
New research into the coping skills of mothers of autistic children confirms
that they are more likely to report "poor or fair" emotional health and
mental health than other moms. But they are also more likely to show
“remarkable strengths,” the study’s lead researcher tells WebMD.
The findings come from a nationally representative survey of almost 62,000
mothers of school-aged children, including 364 mothers of children with
Mothers of children with autism were just as likely as other moms to report
having a close relationship with their child (89% vs. 87%) and five times as
likely to do so as mothers of children who had other developmental
And there were few reported differences between moms of autistic kids and
other moms in their frequency of being angry with their child or in their
perception of their coping skills. About half of the mothers in both groups
reported that they were “coping very well with parenting.”
The study appears in the May issue of the journal Pediatrics.
“In general the survey shows that mothers of children with autism are doing
well,” says researcher Guillermo Montes, PhD, of the Children’s Institute in
“They were certainly under a lot of stress, but the mothers in this sample
were also able to establish close relationships with their [autistic] children,
and they felt competent in their parenting and coping skills.”
The findings are not meant to minimize the challenges of parenting a child
with autism, Montes says. But they do suggest that mothers with autistic kids
may have something to teach moms of children dealing with similar developmental
“The [autism] moms reported being angry at their children less often, and
they seemed to have much closer relationships with their children than mothers
of children with other social skills deficits,” Montes says.
Adams tells WebMD that parenting a child with autism is more than a
full-time job. Alison Singer agrees.