Sunday, April 19, 2009

Autism...the marriage killer?

So we all know divorce is an epidemic.

Divorce in the community of families with a child with autism? Is unbelievable.

The standard stats state that overall there is a 50% divorce rate in 1st marriages (and 67% for 2nd marriage, 74% for third....) the standard stats regarding marriages with a child with an autism diagnosis?

Up to 80% end in divorce.


It's not horribly difficult to imagine why. let's see. Life in a standard family with autism? Starts out with a baby who is "different". Who then turns into a toddler who is impossible. Who eventually gets a diagnosis and then goes through therapy galore. Then you spend your time and energy finding the best doctors, therapists, teachers. Fighting with insurance companies, school districts, and of course yourself. You deal with guilt and questions and wondering what more you could do and should do and might do. No one will watch your kid so you can go out. If you want to pay someone to watch your kid you'll be paying double what a standard family pays. You can't do anything without a huge disclaimer and explanation. You have more medical bills than you can imagine and no money to do it. Insurance doesn't cover most therapies so you sit there and wonder whether or not you can find a way to pay for therapies that are $100+ an hour out of pocket and worth every penny. Oh, money? number one cause of divorce? HUGE issue with families with autism in the picture. Did I mention those copays and medical bills? Dont' forget extra gas. Consults. Therapy tools for home. Special diets. Supplements.

Then the stress. Every day activities can flip on a dime. Your cute toddler turns into a troubled teen. Your non-verbal preschooler turns into a preteen who can't express his emotions. The temper tantrums from the 30 pounder turn into physical aggression issues from a 150 pounder.

I think the thing that bothers me? Is that AUTISM is not the cause of these divorces and this is where everyone gets all caught up in wording. However you know what? Divorces ARE more common in families with special needs kids. But it's not the disability. Or the children who are the cause. There IS more stress though. And stress? Not enough time together? Focusing too much on your children without ability to focus on your marriage? Can lead to divorce easily.

As if there aren't enough NEEDS for the special needs community? There REALLY needs to be better options for giving parents appropriate support, the availability to go out, affordability to do so...or maybe I'm just whining because I haven't had a date with my husband since before Liam was born and the one option we had? Liam got sick. :-( BLAAAAAAAAAAH.

And now I've lost my train of thought because my husband has snl on from the dvr and crap is it loud.



Anonymous said... has a section for couples/parents. It's worth a check out because these kids need two parents more than ever

Fielding J. Hurst said...

I don't disagree with any of the above, but the 80% number appears to have been pulled out of someone's ass on Oprah. I would love to see a real attempt to quantify it.

Anonymous said...

I have seen 80% as a stat. that is referred to in several different places. To me it has taught me to ALWAYS keep my marriage a priority and the friendship with my husband at the top of the list. You never know what will be thrown on your plate at any given moment,and if you have become complacent about romance, communication, finances etc. due to procrastination or just being so comfortable that you don't put in as much effort when autism or any other issue comes in and consumes so much energy it makes it that much harder to sustain a relationship with just friends let alone your spouse.
So I have learned to not bury issues, not hide my feelings and deal with problems in the moment instead of trying to have the "we need the spark back" conversation two years after it

Love that you are blogging about this M~ I spent the morning catching up on all the entries for April. ~B

M said...

The 80% stat has been floating around much longer than just Oprah's ass (Oprah? She's the Goddess of all things EVERYTHING. Jenny McCarthy too! You don't believe all they have to say? Oh! I have today's post!)

I wish there was appropriate gathering of information on it myself. To see the REAL stats. I can't imagine it would be that difficult to figure. They've figured divorce stats on down syndrome families, and families of children with cancer. And considering most special needs families who have had studies done end up with a higher than average divorce rate? I wouldn't be surprised to see the divorce rate at that.

But I agree. A real study? Not that damn hard. Though also? Some real effort to help families of special needs kiddos NOT reach anywhere near that stat? Would be really fabulous too. Wishful thinking at this point...

M said...

And B you totally have a point there. That stat keeps me on my toes too. In friendships and otherwise. Which reminds me FRIEND we need to get together. xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

Yes!!!! we do. I forget that my husband is home and I can actually get away once in awhile,use it or lose it before he goes again!!! facebook me for some park time.~B

Fielding J. Hurst said...

I mean they seem to know everything else. If you lived together, you have X% chance more of divorce, if you disagree on religion you have Y%, if you have two brown dogs and a cat, you have Z% chance of a divorce. Maybe it because autism itself is hard to define, that they don't seem to be able to produce a study on this issue.

I bet you can't find a source study for the 80%. Again, I don't disagree that it is higher than no autism, but I bet there is also anm offset of parents who stay together because of it as well.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if anyone will read this post, but I think the 80 % chance is turning into a 100 % chance in my home. I don't think I can take this much more. I'm going out of my SKULL/.

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