Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Quality of life of parents of children with autism systematically reviewed

"This review verified previous reports on lower QoL [quality of life] among parents of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and highlighted potential areas of support."

So said the findings reported by Eleni Vasilopoulou & Joy Nisbet [1] who surveyed the available peer-reviewed literature looking at "QoL among parents of children with ASD (<18 years)". They also reported on various factors potentially contributory to the reported lower QoL including "child behavioural difficulties, unemployment, being a mother and lack of social support."

Being careful not to generalise nor stigmatise, these are important results. On a previous blogging occasion I talked about the issue of parental stress in relation to raising a child with additional needs (see here) and how there may be evidence-based ways and means of reducing stress so helping allow parents to focus on being parents. Certainly the potentially contributory factors cited by Vasilopolou & Nisbet accord with some of tenets in that post (i.e. the positive impact of social support including respite and the need to tackle the more disruptive aspects of behaviour more likely to lead to greater stress for person and parent).

As per my recent ramblings on supporting other family members when a diagnosis of autism is received (see here), there are additional lessons to be learned. By all means focus attention and services on the person diagnosed in order to improve their quality of life (see here). Try and ensure that their personal, social and medical needs are met (see here) and that meaningful opportunities are offered, mindful that sweeping generalisations don't tend to work too good when it comes to the autism spectrum (see here). Snowflakes, people, snowflakes.

But also don't forget about families and other significant others. Don't forget about the mothers, fathers and other caregivers and their day-to-day and longer term needs and concerns (see here). Parents are the foundations of families. Those foundations need to be tended every once in a while in order to ensure the family home stays strong and upright.

Music: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Higher Ground.

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[1] Vasilopoulou E. & Nisbet J. The quality of life of parents of children with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2016; 23: 36-49.

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ResearchBlogging.org Vasilopoulou, E., & Nisbet, J. (2016). The quality of life of parents of children with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 23, 36-49 DOI: 10.1016/j.rasd.2015.11.008