How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship with your Spouse When you Have an Autistic Child

Posted on: 21 October 2015

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Having a child on the autism spectrum is no easy thing. A child's defiant and anti-social behaviours make it difficult for the child to develop socially and cognitively at the same rate as other children. Beyond this, having a child with autism is also likely to put strain on your family life.

Parents have to pull together as a united front to look after children who don't have autism, so the amount of effort that needs to go into parenting an autistic child is even greater, and it's something that you and your partner will have to take day by day, doing the best job for each other, while also doing the best for your child.

Here are some ways to make sure your relationship is as healthy as it can be while raising an autistic child.

Create couple time. This doesn't mean anything quite as contrived as 'date night', but it is important that you set aside twenty minutes a day for each other, when you don't talk about anything that is related to your children at all. This daily practice will enable you to think of yourselves as something more than parents (which you are!). You are also in a loving relationship that deserves attention – and you should never feel guilty for that.

Relationship counselling. If you noticed a dramatic change in your relationship from before and after looking after your autistic child (angry and unkind behaviours in particular), it could be well worth seeking some outside help to get you back on the right track in your relationship. The help of a neutral mediator (who is trained in asking all the right questions) through relationship counselling should help you gain a sense of perspective on your behaviours, individually and as a couple, and how you can get things back on track. It might also be worth seeking out relationship counsellors with an autism specialism who can best understand your particular situation.

Communicate. As much as it is important to have your couple time away for any kid talk, you also need to discuss the nuts and bolts of looking after a child with autism. The autism spectrum is vast, and what works for one kid will not work for another. What works for your kid one month might stop working the next month too. You constantly have to re-evaluate your parenting – and you have to do that as a team. If you employ different parenting strategies, it will be bad for the development of your child, and it will also put a strain on your relationship.