Divorce and autism: putting the pieces together

No matter the experiences that brought your marriage to an end, there’s no easy way to navigate divorce. Dividing property, figuring out future finances and arranging parenting time in the best interests of the children can often escalate an already difficult situation.

Every child needs assurance through changes that turn their world upside down. Yet, children diagnosed with a developmental disorder, such as autism, require a more thoughtful approach to significant changes within the family.

How can parents make divorce easier for children with ASD?

Multiple unique concerns can affect a divorce decree. While maintaining consistency is key for children to feel secure, a child on the autism spectrum could require additional behavioral supports, funding for services and appropriate sensory environments. In many cases, the related financial requirements continue well into adulthood.

However, the costs are only part of the equation in dividing your family unit. Considering your child’s needs should come first. To help ease the transition:

  • Allow your child to react to the news of your divorce in their own way. You might anticipate a neurotypical child to become upset or worry about whether they’re loved. The response from a child with autism spectrum disorder, on the other hand, may be unexpected and seemingly inappropriate.
  • Maintain as much structure as possible. The supports you’re already using may be expanded to allow for a visual representation of scheduling changes between different households, for example. Likewise, nearly identical bedrooms and routines in each parent’s home may provide a sense of stability.
  • Inform your child’s specialists about your divorce. The people who work with your child on a regular basis may need to make modifications or provide extra sensory breaks as they adapt. They may be able to recommend resources for you and your former spouse as well.

Depending on the age and capabilities of your child, social stories could also shed light on the changes at hand. As your family figures out how to make the best of a future filled with the unknown, your children will likely have thoughts and feelings to contribute.

Regardless of the number of fidgets you must transport between houses, how many times you have to answer the same question or the sleep deprivation you experience due to potential emotions expressed as behaviors, your kids remain an integral part of your family. It’s possible that how they need, or would like, to proceed could be best for everyone involved.







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