James and Linda Cookson, model citizens of Kent County, Michigan are proud parents of David. Young David is 5 years old and has been diagnosed with ASD recently. He is currently receiving ABA therapy from a local center. The Cooksons as a family along with their loved ones are involved in the care and the nurturing of this bright young boy. Raising David is both rewarding and challenging. However, with the advantage of a parent training program and counseling, they are doing much better than other parents and are more in control of their lives & situation.
4 Ways Counseling Can Benefit Parents of Children with ASD:
Adjustment with the situation – Coming to terms with reality is a stressful and often traumatic experience for the parents. They go through a range of emotions over time such as sadness, guilt, pain, anger, and denial. The process starts when they notice the child is different / unusual and may last their entire lifetime. The grief can be overwhelming, cyclical with a feeling of helplessness and loneliness. In this scenario, counseling comes as a soothing balm on raw wounds. Counseling helps parents to come to terms with the situation and process their feelings through various therapies & techniques.
Learning specific parenting skills – Being the Parents of Children with ASD is a very special and unique place to be in. As we all know, children with ASD are different from neurotypical children. Counseling helps parents in various issues such as education, medical needs, home safety issues, and self-regulation. Counseling helps in bringing everything into focus, reduce anxiety, and activate coping skills needed. Thus the feeling of being “swamped by a tsunami” as some parents feel is addressed.
Family as a unit – It has been reported that the diagnosis of their children with ASD leads to marital discord as well as stresses in marriages, in some families. The glut of varying emotions plays out and takes its toll on couples and families. Separations and divorces are the result. This is where good counseling by experienced and trained professionals well versed & sensitive in these matters benefits families. Counseling is time-consuming and requires patient, plus the motivation to work to save the marriage and the family as a wholesome unit. Families first!
Stress management - As parents of children diagnosed with on the spectrum, stress comes naturally, in more degrees to some and fewer degrees to others. Stress is a killer in so many ways and the only way to stay healthy (physically, mentally, and emotionally) is to alleviate or remove stress through therapy, counseling, and other ways. Counselors are sounding boards, friendly ears and offering constructive solutions. Counseling can last for a few months or more, depending on the requirement of each parent individually or as a couple. Parents need to help themselves before they help their child with ASD. Counseling provides mechanisms to manage the stress associated with parenting kids with ASD.