SCSU Professor: Moms of Autistic Children May Feel Social Isolation

By Zahn, Brian | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), February 5, 2017 | Go to article overview

SCSU Professor: Moms of Autistic Children May Feel Social Isolation


Zahn, Brian, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


NEW HAVEN » When children with high-functioning autism interact with the world, the struggles they experience with perceiving social cues can lead to social isolation.

After speaking with several mothers of autistic children for a study, an assistant professor at Southern Connecticut State University said this experience can also often extend to the parents.

Julie Piepenbring, an assistant professor of social work and the executive vice president of Adelbrook Behavioral and Developmental Services, said a qualitative study of nine mothers of children with high-functioning autism revealed two consistent themes: grief and resiliency.

"Seeing their children struggle to integrate socially, they felt isolated as well," Piepenbring said. "Their friends and family are giving advice, and they felt judged for their parenting styles."

The advice, Piepenbring said, ranged from unsolicited suggestions of different parenting methods to outright denials of autism or an insistence that the autism was a series of behavioral issues inherited from one of the parents' families.

The mothers were interviewed by Piepenbring in two sessions and expressed consistently that they felt others viewed them as bad parents because their children exhibited behavioral issues. On the contrary, Piepenbring said, the mothers became relentless advocates for their children.

"They educate themselves and form support groups," Piepenbring said.

Many she interviewed had testified about the needs of an autistic child before the state legislature or had started sibling support groups. …

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