Silent Mental Stress Experienced by Caretakers of Autistic Children

By Kurian, Mini | Indian Journal of Community Psychology, March 2018 | Go to article overview

Silent Mental Stress Experienced by Caretakers of Autistic Children


Kurian, Mini, Indian Journal of Community Psychology


INTRODUCTION

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO, 2003), the ICD-10 classification of mental and behavioural disorder, autism is a spectrum disorder falling under the pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), it is defined and diagnosed as an abnormal and impaired development. It is estimated to be affecting 1 in 150 births (Centre for disease control prevention, 2007) and is evident before the age of three. Autism is characterized by three abnormal findings, in all three areas of social interaction, communication restriction as well as repetitive behaviour. It is reported that, it is four times prevalent in boys than girls. The US department of education (2007), reported that there is an increase in autism prevalence from 10 to 17% per year, whereas the centre for disease control and prevention(CDC,2010), states that by the year of 2010, there is an expectancy rate of 1 in 110, being victims of autism spectrum disorder, and 45% of the development disability(autism)is found in the state of California(National autistic society,2007).This highlights that it is more prevalent than childhood cancer. The purpose of this research study was to understand the experience of the professional carer's, when dealing with the autistic children.

Autism is recognized and diagnosed between 18 month and three years, and is found to exist throughout life. However occasional autism like disorder is usually detected after the age of three, and is found to be due to the late onset genetic disorder or may be due to brain disease that has been acquired (Corbett et al., 1977). Research shows that many factors like genetic and environmental factors also contribute to this disorder (Goossens and Van IJzendooen, 1990).This inadequate emotional cue of qualitative impairment is found in social interaction.

Autistic children are found to lack social modulation of behaviour, weak social skills, social integration, impairment in communication, the inability to understand what or why something is happening, this was found to be universal, furthermore adds on, the lack of social usage of languages, if any present. Lacking in emotional response, verbally as well as nonverbally was found to be another major problem. In addition to these diagnoses, children with autism are found to be impaired in nonspecific problem like fear (phobias), temper tantrums, Impairment in communication; verbal as well as nonverbal. It affects dramatically the social interaction, creative thinking, and decision making. Acceptance in changes and coping in everyday life is found to be threatening and disturbing. According to Walsh (2002), autistic children exhibit a behavioural characteristic termed as ego centrism, this makes them detached from their carers, lacking emotional attachment and also avoiding eye contact.

Few autistic children might be able to attend school in some cases, and even have got jobs and some are with family. This however does not show that they have been cured, nor did the treatment have been advocated for this progress. The researcher's passion in this field, after having worked with children with intellectual disability in the native place, has brought about interest in this field.Study by Bowlby (1969/1982) states that from infancy, children are proved to have some kindof attachment to their careers, this helps in maintaining the stability, and many research studies have been done in the past regarding burnt out in case of professionals in relation to their work related stress (Edelwich and Brodisky, 1980; Welch et al., 1982). However, after having examined various literature reviews, the researcher finds majority of researches was done focusing on the children as well as their parents and other related areas, very few outstanding studies were done on the experience of the professional carers and their stress and coping strategies. The purpose of this research is to find the experience of the carers in this field, their coping strategies and organizational support. …

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