Study Finds Respite Care Important for Parents of Children with Autism

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders often experience high levels of stress and marital problems when compared with other parents. Much of this stress is the result of the greater amount of caregiving needed when raising a child with autism. A recent study shows that being able to take a break from caregiving, even just for an hour per week, decreases stress and improves the quality of a marriage.

The study was published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Researchers surveyed the parents of 118 children with autism spectrum disorders and found that the number of hours of respite care per week was directly related to better marital quality. There was also an association between respite care and a reduction in stress.

About 64 percent of the children in the study spent time with a respite care provider, such as grandparents, other family members, babysitters and community agencies. The study found that for every hour per week of respite care, there was less stress and better marital quality. The researchers said that it is important for supports for respite care to be developed for families raising children with autism.

The study adds to what is already known about the importance of respite care for parents of kids with autism. A study last year found that children with autism had a reduced risk of psychiatric hospitalization when their parents were able to take advantage of respite care.

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