Mgr. Mária Kopčíková

Parents and the extended family prepare for the birth of a child for a long time and during pregnancy they begin to form a bond with it. At the same time, parents imagine what their child is going to be like – appearance, character, abilities …

Informing of a diagnosis of autism usually comes as a shock to parents. Finding and concluding the diagnosis itself takes some time, parents see that their baby is simply different from other children. Which, of course, affects the relationship between parents and the child, but also between parents themselves.

The reality can lead to disappointment from the unhappy vision of the future, feelings of guilt, or blaming each other. Gradually, the family is looking for ways to manage this reality with the best prospects for their child and for themselves.

Families with autistic children make a lot of effort to adapt to reality as much as possible, to provide appropriate home care and education. However, at the same time as caring for the child, they must also take care of themselves, their physical and mental health.

Very often the largest part of the child’s care is taken over by the mother, who then very quickly loses time for herself, her interests, and the activities that she likes and enjoys. Here it is necessary to be vigilant and seek and secure help. In this case, it is vital to seek help, whether from relatives, grandparents or from the state – in the form of babysitting/nursing service or professional help. NGOs can be very helpful in providing assistance.

Fathers may more often provide for their families financially, so they may leave home for much of the day – meeting other people and solving problems other than the child’s (current) condition.

The topic of siblings of autistic children is also extremely important. Healthy siblings also have to deal with the reality and find a way how to build a relationship with an autistic brother or sister. They have to understand the peculiarities of his or her behavior, as it is often strange for them that the autistic sibling “does not understand” the normal context. At the same time, healthy siblings can sometimes feel angry at their parents, who temporarily (but also in the long term) give them less time and attention.

Sometimes the situation can escalate so that a healthy sibling becomes a support for the parent(s), witnessing their sadness, depression, or anger. It is very important that a healthy sibling is informed in a timely and appropriate manner about the characteristics and the nature of autism. At the same time, he or she must be prepared for possible reactions of others, whether peers or other adults.