Counting Green Stars

Exploring a spectrum of possibilities

The Toll of Stress


combat stressI read an article recently about a research study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. In 2009 researchers followed a group of moms with autistic children for eight days in a row. The moms were interviewed at the end of each day about their experiences, and their hormone levels were measured to assess their stress.

The gist of the study was that on a day-to-day basis, autism mothers experience more stressful events and have less time for themselves compared to the average American mother. They struggle with frequent fatigue and work interruptions, and spend significantly more time caregiving than moms of those without disabilities. In fact, autism moms have chronic stress similar to combat soldiers.

Mothers (and fathers) of children with disabilities don’t need a research study to tell them this; we live it day in and day out. However, it is vital we pay attention to the physiological residue of stress, which can result in chronic health problems as well as compromised immune functioning and mental activity. We need to stay strong to be our children’s frontline advocates!


4 thoughts on “The Toll of Stress

  1. I’m doing my own research study on this exact topic. On me.

    My daughter is 16 and has autism. After being basically bed ridden for two years, i have become a student of my own mind and body in attempt to find out what has been wrong.

    I have learned, and am still learning about the physiological aspects of stress.

    Post traumatic stress is only the beginning. Yet, one I have been hesitant to address. People are reluctant to sympathize and take it seriously. They see it as a war time injury brought on by experiencing death and mayhem. The symptoms are viewed as an attempt to withdraw from reality. I am seen as a person in some sort of denial.

    Yet, I have learned that it is simple chemistry. Life changing events cause put us into problem solving mode and the mind and body react to it chemically. Cortisol, seratonin, adrenaline, endorphins to name a few chemicals. It impacts every system in the body.

    Too much of these chemicals for too long and the body will either become intolerant of them or not be able to produce them in order to keep up with the demand. I have learned that this can have short term and long term ramifications.

    Get this, they are even finding out that there can be minor alteration to our dna. Thst means our physical being can be responding in a minor way to trauma experienced by our grandparents. Doesnt that sound crazy?

    While i have not seen the battlefield, as a parent with an artistic child, i haveendured, on top of everything else and extended period of time managing a problem with no definitive solution. The fact that every child is unique, no one size fits all remedy a a ton of gray area means that we have a very unique grievind g and lengthy process.

    • RandyOrtiz2, you inspire me. Thank you so much for your courage and tenacity. It’s a marathon we’re in, isn’t it? Slow and steady. And we’re a community, we parents. We need to be there for each other to encourage, support, and spur each other on. I applaud your efforts, especially when you think no one notices.

  2. Hi!! I just found your fabulous blog whilst sourcing some inspiration for creating pics for my fb page. What led me here was your ‘base camp’ pic. I would LOVE to post this on my fb page, with a link back to this blog. Would that be possible at all?? Please feel free to email me or answer here, I will be checking back to read your blog anyways!!
    I will not post the pic without your permission as the watermark on it tells me it is your own creation.
    Thank you

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