More Social Support Means Better Health
It is not easy to be a parent to a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Parents are bombarded with stress from the caregiving tasks and not to mention the depression that comes with it. The worse thing also, chronic caregiving stress hampers health and decreases overall health of parents with ASD children.
But a recent study conducted by researchers from Concordia University in Montreal has found an answer to this problem. It highlights that nothing can beat the power of social support to reduce stress among parents with children with autism spectrum disorder. So, aside from TLC (tender, loving, care), social support does matter too!
The new study was published in Family Relations and points the beneficial effects of social support to parents but also the children with ASD as well. The investigation was composed of the powerhouse of psychology professors, Jean-Philippe Gouin and Erin T. Barker, as well as their co-authors. Indeed, the study revealed relevant answers on how social support can protect against stress-induced immune problems among parents with ASD. It is an effective stress buster as well!
Answers To The Study: Social Support Does Matter!
The research takes into account the answers of 56 parents with autism spectrum disorder children to questions about formal social support which is provided by health or social services professionals and informal social support which is provided by significant others, friends and family. Parents also rated their health and recent somatic symptoms.
Blood samples were also provided by the respondents to check for inflammation, a common automatic reaction of the immune system to chronic stress.
The study then concluded that greater informal social support was associated with lower inflammation among parents of ASD children. This means parents are not susceptible to diseases. Also, a higher number of formal support services received by the family is linked to better health and low inflammation.
Supporting Aging Parents with ASD Children is Also Important
Aging parents of children with ASD are more susceptible to stress and prone to diseases too. This was attested by professor Jean-Philippe Gouin who said chronic caregiving stress on health becomes more evident as parents are aging. At that time, their immune system easily weakens when responding to stress.
Thus, social support at this time plays a vital role to help parents with ASD children cope better with the deadly stress and enjoy life amid challenges.
“The need for formal and informal support thus remains high even as the child with ASD is becoming an adult.” – Mr. Gouin
Support Parents With Autism Spectrum Disorder Children
In addition, social support will not only benefit parents but children with ASD as well, and the whole family.
“Supporting the parents in coping with chronic caregiving stress might not only improve the child’s outcome, but also may help maintain an optimal family environment for a longer period of time.” – Mr. Gouin