New Rutgers Study Focuses on Families of Children With Autism
A new study from Rutgers University has found that families of children with autism face significant physical and emotional burdens, and at times are even ridiculed and accused of child abuse. According to a report by Tapinto.net, researchers surveyed 25 caregivers of 16 children with autism between 2 and 20 years old, to evaluate how their care affected their physical and mental health, family dynamics, and social functioning. Xue Ming, a professor of neurology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and an author of the study, explained that, while understanding of the impact of autism on individuals has grown, the burden autism can place on families is less appreciated. “Caring for loved ones with autism spectrum disorder is emotionally and physically taxing,” Ming said. The new study found that emotional burnout was more likely in families with a child with low-functioning autism, and that social isolation was greater in families who reported significant emotional burnout. The study also found that families with more than one caregiver experienced less emotional burnout and social isolation, and that families with an aggressive and irritable child experienced more. Nine of the 16 families in the study reported being ridiculed or accused of child abuse, and said this was severe enough to prevent them from using public transportation, attending social events, or visiting public places, such as churches, supermarkets, or restaurants.
“This suggests that communities need to improve their inclusiveness for families with children with autism spectrum disorder,” Ming was quoted as saying by Tapinto.net. “The study shows there is a need to raise public awareness of the burdens faced by these families and to alert medical providers to provide them with more support.”
New Jersey has the highest autism rate in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control, with approximately 3% of children being on the autism spectrum.