Children with autism are generally characterized by an inability to communicate and interact with other individuals. The autistic children are very indifferent to the environment outside himself. They look as if they have and live in their own world (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems – ICD, 2016).
Characteristics of children with specific needs, such as children with autism spectrum disorders, can reduce the mental health of parents and families. Parents with children with autism spectrum disorders show decreasing mental health, one of which is caused by the stress of parenting.
Parenting stress will be experienced by parents who have children with autism spectrum disorders perceived by parents as a threatening, challenging, or dangerous condition as it affects physiological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral state of parents. Parenting stress has a negative impact on parents’ beliefs to cope with stressors so they pose a risk to mental health.
Some studies suggest that there are differences in parenting stress based on gender. Mothers with children with autism spectrum disorders show higher parenting stress compared to the fathers. Characteristics and limitations of children with autism spectrum disorders require more intensive care. Thus, demanding parents, especially mothers, to provide greater and more specialized time and energy.
Furthermore, the quantity and quality of a mother’s relationship with a child which is greater than that of a father makes the mother exhibit higher physical fatigue and cognitive and emotional anxiety.
Parents’ internal factors in parenting, parenting self-efficacy, has a crucial role in reducing parenting stress. Parents with high parenting self-efficacy have high interest in mentoring, caring, tolerating, emerging challenges, and having a positive self-perception about their ability to handle stressors. Parenting self-efficacy is negatively correlated with feeling overwhelmed by the caregiving task.
Parenting self-efficacy is formed by various variables, such as parents’ acceptance of children, positive reinforcement from children, attachment, and social support especially from partners. The ability of parents to accept children as they are without conditions will present positive emotions to accept the shortcomings and limitations of children.
Supporting the children means that children show positive development with the presence of care and education efforts and guidance provided by parents. Positive reinforcement provided by children through the achievement of successful intervention by parents will bring confidence to parents about their competence in parenting.
Parenting self-efficacy is an internal factor of the mother encouraging creativity and perseverance of the mother to carry out the process of care and education appropriately adjusted to the abilities possessed. In limited financial support, mothers with high parenting self-efficacy will try to provide care and education directly to their children without the help of others so that children can continue to improve their ability to communicate and interact socially.
Mothers with high parenting self-efficacy will try to find and find care and education strategies that are right for their children. They will try to understand and apply healthy parenting patterns for their children the children will gradually be able to build independence so that they can build interpersonal relationships and improve their quality of life.
Children with proper handling are expected to be able to take formal education together with other children their age and age in an inclusive education setting. In addition, certain food diets for children with autism spectrum disorders should be the main concern of mothers in care.
Various specific needs are understood by the mother and family with maximum efforts to fulfill them and adjusted to their capacity and abilities. So, parenting can be used as part of the roles and tasks of parents without being stressed and overwhelmed with feelings and thoughts. (*)
Author: Nurul Hartini
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