I 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!