Parenting is a journey filled with ups and downs, both joys and challenges. When your child is diagnosed with autism, this journey takes on a unique set of twists and turns. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that affects communication, behaviour, and social interaction. While parenting any child can be demanding, parents of autistic children often face additional stressors that can impact their emotional well-being.

Understanding Autism:

Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning it manifests differently in each individual. Some children with autism may have mild symptoms and lead relatively typical lives. While others may require more support and accommodations. Understanding this spectrum is crucial for parents, as it helps them recognise and appreciate their child’s strengths and challenges.

Navigating Emotions:

Upon receiving a diagnosis of autism for their child, it is understandable that parents may experience a range of emotions, including shock, denial, guilt, sadness, and even relief. It’s essential for parents to acknowledge and process these emotions rather than suppressing them. Therefore, Seeking support from friends, family, or a therapist can provide an outlet for expressing these feelings and help parents cope with the new reality.

Challenges Faced by Parents:

Raising an autistic child presents unique challenges that can take a toll on parents’ emotional well-being. These challenges may include:

  1. Social Isolation: Parents may feel isolated from friends and family who don’t understand their child’s diagnosis or how to interact with them.
  2. Financial Strain: The cost of therapies, specialised education, and medical interventions can add up quickly, straining family finances.
  3. Advocacy: Navigating the education and healthcare systems to ensure their child receives the support they need can be overwhelming and frustrating.
  4. Grief and Loss: Parents may grieve the loss of the child they had envisioned. Thus, struggle to adjust to the reality of their child’s diagnosis.
  5. Constant Vigilance: Caring for a child with autism often requires round-the-clock attention. Leaving parents with little time for self-care or relaxation.

Coping Strategies:

Despite the challenges they face, many parents of autistic children find ways to maintain their emotional well-being. Here are some strategies that may help:

  1. Self-Care: It’s essential for parents to prioritise their own needs and well-being. This may involve carving out time for hobbies, exercise, or relaxation activities.
  2. Seeking Support: Connecting with other parents of autistic children can provide a sense of community and understanding. Online forums, support groups, and parent advocacy organisations can be valuable resources.
  3. Setting Realistic Expectations: Recognising and accepting both their child’s strengths and limitations can help parents manage their expectations. As well as reduce feelings of frustration or disappointment.
  4. Finding Joy: Celebrating small victories and moments of connection with their child can help parents focus on the positives and find joy in their parenting journey.
  5. Professional Help: Therapy or counselling can provide parents with coping strategies, emotional support, and a safe space to process their feelings.

Parenting an autistic child is a journey filled with unique challenges. But it’s also a journey filled with love, growth, and moments of joy. By prioritizing self-care, seeking support, and finding ways to cope with the inevitable ups and downs, parents can cultivate emotional well-being and resilience. 

Lisa Scalpello is a trainee professional offering therapy sessions to clients who are experiencing struggles in different areas of life such as work, studies or relationships, that put a strain on mental health. She is trained in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.


Lai, W. W., Goh, T. J., Oei, T. P., & Sung, M. (2015). Coping and well-being in parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Journal of autism and developmental disorders45, 2582-2593.

Costa, A. P., Steffgen, G., & Ferring, D. (2017). Contributors to well-being and stress in parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders37, 61-72.