A recent article in the Washington Post said that parents of children with disabilities are more likely to get divorced. Although what is really being said is that having a child with, say, ADHD causes more stress within the parental relationship and this stress is what may lead to divorce. Shankar Vedantam, who wrote this Washington Post article entitled, "Married, With ADHD: Relationships Suffer Under Stress of Raising Child With Disorder, Study Finds" concludes that:
"Couples who have a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are nearly twice as likely to divorce or separate as couples who do not have children with the psychiatric disorder, according to a definitive new study that is the first to explicitly explore the question. The reason appears simple: Having a child who is inattentive or hyperactive can be extremely stressful for caregivers and can exacerbate conflicts, tensions and arguments between parents."
And it isn't just parents of children who have ADHD who appear to be more at risk for divorce. There are statistics being thrown out there for parents of children who are on the autism spectrum as well. It seems most people in the autism community are hearing these stats that up to 80% of parents who have a child on the spectrum will get a divorce. Yet the source of this particular statistic is difficult to find as mentioned by Kristina Chew who writes a blog called Autism Vox.
So what is a parent to make of all this? They are telling us that having a child who has special needs can cause stress for us parents. Like Duh. Tell us something we don't already know. Maybe what needs to be discussed are ways of coping with the stress of parenting a child who requires so much of our time due to challenging needs and behaviors.
How can parents of special needs children deal with this stress and come together instead of breaking apart?
It is my opinion that one needs to first understand that each parent may handle the challenge of raising a child who has exceptional needs in very different ways. I recall a conversation I had with a friend once. She had a son who was about my son's age and this child also had autism. My friend wanted me to speak to her husband to try to help him. She told me that he just wasn't "getting it" and would not open up about discussing their son. I was reluctant to enter such a situation and asked her what I could possibly do. She wanted me to give books to her husband about autism. I told her that this was something I could definitely do. But then she added that the books had to all be positive as he didn't want to hear anything bad. In searching through my books I had a very hard time finding any book which depicted autism without mentioning any of the challenges or hardships. When I told my friend of my dilemma she told me not to bother because she didn't think he would read anything on the topic anyway. Clearly they were both struggling in their own way.