The mothers of Autistic kids experience same stress as combat soldiers…..

There was a study published last year (November 2009) and appears online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders that basically says mothers (I would presume stay at home fathers would be included) of Autistic children experience stress levels like that of combat soldiers. That really puts things into perspective. I hope people read this an have a much better understanding of what our families go through. Below is the an article I found at “The Disability Scoop” by MICHELLE DIAMENT. Here is the article:

Mothers of adolescents and adults with autism experience chronic stress comparable to combat soldiers and struggle with frequent fatigue and work interruptions, new research finds. These moms also spend significantly more time caregiving than moms of those without disabilities.

Researchers followed a group of moms of adolescents and adults with autism for eight days in a row. Moms were interviewed at the end of each day about their experiences and on four of the days researchers measured the moms’ hormone levels to assess their stress.

They found that a hormone associated with stress was extremely low, consistent with people experiencing chronic stress such as soldiers in combat, the researchers report in one of two studies published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

“This is the physiological residue of daily stress,” says Marsha Mailick Seltzer, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who authored the studies. “The mothers of children with high levels of behavior problems have the most pronounced physiological profile of chronic stress, but the long-term effect on their physical health is not yet known.”

Such hormone levels have been associated with chronic health problems and can affect glucose regulation, immune functioning and mental activity, researchers say.

In a companion study, the researchers followed up with the same group of mothers daily to interview them about how they used their time, their level of fatigue, what leisure activities they participated in and whether or not stressful events occurred. This information was then compared with data from a national sample of mothers whose children do not have disabilities.

Mothers of those with autism reported spending at least two hours more each day caregiving than mothers of children without disabilities. On any given day these moms were also twice as likely to be tired and three times as likely to have experienced a stressful event.

What’s more, these moms were interrupted at work on one out of every four days compared to less than one in 10 days for other moms.

Despite all of this, mothers of an individual with autism were just as likely to have positive experiences each day, volunteer or support their peers as those whose children have no developmental disability, researchers found.

“On a day-to-day basis, the mothers in our study experience more stressful events and have less time for themselves compared to the average American mother,” says Leann Smith, a developmental psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who worked on the studies. “We need to find more ways to be supportive of these families.”

In particular, the researchers say that parents need better respite options and flexibility from their employers. Further, they say, programs to help manage behavior problems can go a long way toward improving the situation for mothers and their kids alike.

Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
0 0 votes
Article Rating

Join The Conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

most voted
newest oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

It is an amazing story.
I agree people without the situation do not understand.I am a carer of two sons with aspergers/autism.
Being in the summer holidays at the moment is very hard as both sons are out of their routine and everything is a daily battle.The oldest son is the easier of the two.The youngest one has tourettes also.Trying to get him to go out can be a nightmare as he will want to go on his computer all the time.He wants to keep eating to leading to weight gain.Daily battles and made worse by my ex husband who just basically refuses to accept either son has autism so will encourage the younger one particularity to challenge everything I do.For instance will send him home with large bags of junk food and highly coloured drinks and tell him not to let me take it off him!! It is the feeling of not having control of things and these constant battles with my youngest son in particular of getting him to clean teeth,bath etc as well as the above that is so draining.If I try and insist he will start to self harm:-( I am afraid I cannot wait for the summer hols to be over and it makes me sad as it should be a time I look forward to spending quality time with my sons but the younger one especially just leaves me feeling drained.


We spent a great deal of Gavin\’s early life battling with my wife\’s ex-husband who\’s mother did the very same thing. Very frustrating and extremely counterproductive. I wish you the very best. Thank you for sharing. 🙂


Thats an amazing story.I wonder how that stress REALLY effects the body. I feel like i've aged 20 years in the last five.Its kinda beyond the normal persons ability to ever be able to understand that.What surprises me is how much interest you loose in the things you really enjoy.Nothing matters because you know what a struggle everyday life is going to be.All the mental stress is going to take its toll big i'm very sorry to say.Good post Rob and Happy New Year to you and yours buddy.