Divorce Rate for Parents of Children with Autism

Renee - posted on 12/13/2009 ( 21 moms have responded )

621

28

139

Just curious I've read that the divorce rate among couples with one child or more on the spectrum is 80%. I'm wondering what this forums' rate is? I am divorced and have a son on the autism spectrum. We were married for 12 1/2 years our son was 6 years old at the time of our divorce and that was 2 years ago. Also what is your experience with dating - I now have a boyfriend but that was REALLY hard to do was to find someone who could look past the diagnosis and see the wonderful child underneath.

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

21 Comments

View replies by

Karen - posted on 01/01/2010

11

33

0

i, too am divorced. almost six months now. my ex married his mistress six weeks after we were final. i don't think the austim is a contributing factor for us. we have two boys from a 14 year marriage and the ex was cheating long before the second child (that's my special one!) was born. their father is devoted to them, and would do almost anything for them.

Paula - posted on 01/01/2010

4

5

1

i'm divorced, but it had nothing to do with our son's autism...he was just a dead beat.

[deleted account]

my aspie son was 7 when i divorced my husband. i dated for awhile but only recently have found a great guy who is good with ethan. we still have our bad days when ethan is having his meltdowns but we get through them together.

Elizabeth - posted on 12/30/2009

18

14

1

My daughter was diagnosed with PDD at 3 and we got divorced 2 years later but not due to her diagnosis. I met a man almost 3 years who had been divorced and his son has autism. His divorce was not due to the autism either. He was in denial about his sone, but lucky for all of them I am an autism teacher so dealing with him is no big deal. Since then, he has moved from Florida to live with us and go the school I teach at. He has seen the light about his son and with the proper treatment and discipline, he is sooooo much better. Dating is hard whether or not you have a child with any sort of disability or is completely "normal." With kids involved it is rough. All you need to remember is your child is the most important thing and you never have to settle. There IS someone out there that can appreciate our children. I love the quote "Nothing worth having comes easy."

Kimberly - posted on 12/30/2009

7

13

0

Adria,

Your story was touching. I am going on 26 years of marriage, with four sons, two of whom have autism and one of those has a myriad of other diagnoses. I can't say our marriage has not had its ups and downs. It certainly has, but our children make us stronger. We know that neither of us can handle it alone, and that our children deserve to have parents who care and are doing all they can. Sometimes it is exhausting. When I have felt my husband didn't understand, esp about our fourth child, I talked to him, showed him documentation about what was wrong, what to expect. I know he loved me enough and our children enough to listen to me, really hear me, and become a parent of special needs kids (and those without special needs). Some dads I think feel shame and helplessness. I don't think my husband ever felt shame, but he did feel helpless. There was nothing he could "do" and men are action creatures. When he knew all we needed was his love and support, and most of all understanding, things got much easier. Our marriage is a very happy one. My husband and I love each other with all our hearts. I'm sure your husband loves you too. It just gets lost sometimes. I also have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Without my husband's love, acceptance and support, I don't think I would have survived. We both know we just have to give unconditional love and give everything all we have each day. You do need some time away from your child, away from everyone actually. If possible, try to go on "dates" with your husband and have coffee and tea with a girlfriend. These things rekindle romance in our relationship constantly, and having some alone time or just getting with the girls for a couple of hours takes me out of that world. I hope these things are not too far-fetched for you to even think about happening. Please sit down with your husband and remind him of why you two fell in love, and that you are the same people, just with new challenges. True love and dedication can withstand special needs children, chronic illness, financial difficulties, and many other life issues. I hope he listens and you are able to let go of the anger, and he is able to empathize with the woman he loves. Blessings!

Emilie - posted on 12/29/2009

81

4

12

I am divorced. My ex gave up long before we got an official ASD diagnosis. My son was born extremely prematurely, which is another category with a high divorce rate. I haven't found anyone to date yet. I don't seem to have the time! Also, I'm not interested in someone who will bail out when things get tough.

Elanor - posted on 12/29/2009

161

19

4

Hi, I'm still married - my husband and I joke that it would be easier if we lived in seperate houses, at least we'd both get a break. I hope it won't come to that!

Renee - posted on 12/29/2009

621

28

139

It's curious, I just don't hear about too many cases where the husband takes charge of the kids (especially with autism) in the divorce. Most of the time the mom does and for me at least has meant a much lower standard of living. What could be worse, now one parent, lower standard of living and one person carrying all the responsibility.

[deleted account]

I have been married for 14 years and am getting a divorce myself. I am interested to see what everyone posts as well. My kids are 13 and almost 10. They both have numereous psychiatric diagnosis as well as my youngest having Aspergers.

Heather - posted on 12/27/2009

21

17

0

I loved reading what all you ladies had to say about this. I have been separated for over a year. Our marriage had been in trouble for quite a long time. My son is 7. I suspected something when he was 3 and at 4 he was suspected to be on the spectrum. We've been entrenched in it ever since. It definitely took a toll on our marriage. I agree with the 'underlying tension.' We certainly had that. My husband wanted me to get a job and I needed to be home with my son. We have a daughter as well. I have 2 business that I work, one as a personal trainer and the other from home. Both have been pretty part time. He didn't think I was making enough money with these ventures and wanted me to go get a job. I honestly can't imagine doing that and still provide my son with all he needs. I think I would be fired from any job anyway with the amount that I have to pick him up from school, go to doctors appts... not to mention that my daughter is still in preschool. So, yes, it seems I fell victim to the 80%. If I take a really good look at what happened, I put much more energy into our kids than I did into the marriage. Our kids on the spectrum require much more than typical kids. So for those of you who are still married, my advice is to take time out to work on your marriage. Put as much into your marriage as you put into your children. Get a babysitter! Spend some time together without the constant interruptions. Compliment each other on the things you do well. It is hard doing this alone!! Your kids will benefit more when the two of you present a united front. My kids' dad is still involved, but he really only sees them on weekends, or every other weekend. Stay strong ladies.

Magen - posted on 12/27/2009

106

15

27

Autism is hard for both parents but in different ways. Fathers learn from society that their sons are thier legacy (autism affects boys 4x as often as girls) and the diagnosis can make them feel like failures. Also there are more support groups for women than there are for men. My husband is a wonderful man but I have seen him struggle with his place in my sons life. He is a stay at home dad and an excellent father but I often feel for him when I am going to some "mom's" function. Men are often reluctant to talk about their feelings and as women we resent them when they hide from what is going on. We don't understand that they deal with things differently so we shut them out and then they are even more alone. Obviously not all marriages can survive all the stress that comes with a special needs child but think on this as you are on "Circle of Moms" in the autism support group does your husband have a circle of dads or anyone at all that he can talk to about what he is dealing with. His old friends are very unlikely to be able to fill this position unless they also have special needs children. He will probably feel isolated from them and cut himself off from them. Talk to him frankly and be honest and try to be understanding. Remember you loved him once and marriage takes work but as mothers when we find out our child needs us we tend to get tunnel vision and loose sight of everything else including our spouses. No relationship succeeds or fails on one partners actions it takes to to make it work or not. Good Luck everyone.

Heidi - posted on 12/27/2009

68

1

2

The divorce rate is incredibly high with parents of special needs children. So far my hubby and I have been married for almost 10 years but shortly after diagnosis it was pretty touch and go. As a mom I was like "OK here it is how do we deal with it" and he couldnt get past the fact that we had an Autistic child and it was overwhelming to him. Luckily with a lot of work we were able to get through it but its hard and sometimes we till struggle. :)

Renee - posted on 12/20/2009

621

28

139

First thanks for responding everyone! It's great to hear about the different situations everyone is dealing with. Adria - all I can is I think you are brave for sticking it out although it sounds like you are having a really hard time. Believe me I was at the lay down and die point too and I think as women we often times just forge ahead even when the man in our life buckles. Rachel, my husband actually kept looking online and saying oh no he doesn't have autism, well he did, my husband was in denial! And I think for us the diagnosis was the final nal in the coffin on our marriage. It just came at a really bad time in the economy (I hadn't worked outside the home in over 10 years, the housing market was starting to tank, and we have a daughter too) so I sometimes laugh when I look back and think why couldn't he have left me 2 years earlier so the house would have been worth twice what I sold it for! Have a great weekend ladies!

Rachel - posted on 12/19/2009

45

10

2

I heard it was high and I wasn't too surprised.. I've always had a feeling about my son but my husband never did.. I felt like it was a constant battle cause I just wanted to protect and nurture my son and my husband thought I was keeping him a baby and he wanted to "man" him up... Since the diagnosis I've seen a 360 in my husband.. He now regrets ever thinking his son should have been a certain way and stops wondering why he isn't this way and since the diagnosis it's like my son senses it and is actually going out of his way to hug his dad more.. My husband was stressing the other day and out of no where my son said "you're the best Daddy ever".. ;)
So I'm grateful for the diagnosis I can see without it why ppl may divorce.

Adria - posted on 12/19/2009

50

12

7

We are going on 7 years now and sometimes I wish I could just lay down and die. I love my son and I wouldn't change anything about having him for anything in the world. The problem though is between my husband and I because the tension and underlying frustration is overwhelming. It is sooo much that I am having a hard time describing it. We work together getting everyone ready for school etc every morning and that has taken a lot just for us to work together. I am pretty good about getting everything together while they are gone but when he gets home - he goes into shut down mode and I go into anger. I want to call it quits but I know that it won't change anything so we are still here.

JoAnn - posted on 12/15/2009

13

11

1

My son is on the Spectrum and was diagnosed summer of 2008. My husband has tried to read some literature but not much. We think he is on the Spectrum as well but was never diagnosed. He sees himself in his son and it has brought back bad memories from his own childhood. I think he wishes that he had been treated the way we are treating our son (with love, kindness and understanding). My husband even though he understands all of this has a hard time dealing with my son. It has been hard on our marriage, but he and I want to stick it out and work through it. I am finding many people don't understand or accept the "Spectrum" diagnosis. However, on the same hand, I have found the opposite to be true. Hang in there. Maybe find a support group. I know there are many out there. Good luck!

Mary - posted on 12/15/2009

100

12

12

I do agree that it does make the marriage harder to sustain. I think right now the kids are what me and my husband fight the most about. I know that our councler said most of her clients parents are divorced and that it makes it harder for the kids, so she encurraged us to work it out. I would think that it would be easier to find someone who would be compatable with your child who has a special needs child or is familure with special needs care. Good luck to you. I think there are some really good men out there who will not be scared to be in a special childs life.

Kelly - posted on 12/15/2009

45

32

0

I am not married but i have been with my partner for 5 years and when our son was diagnosed it made us stronger for the most part. It is hard sometimes as our son is 3 and is very full on and I am a stay at home mum so it can get tense when I feel exhausted and he is at work. I am lucky though cause when he is home he does what ever he can do to help and tries to learn all the therepies with me and is really good with the more rough ones that i struggle with as our son is already stronger than me.

Kellee - posted on 12/14/2009

11

17

0

Still married, the diagnoses wasn't a big shocker to us, that was 6 1/2 years ago. I think it made us better parents.

Renee - posted on 12/14/2009

621

28

139

Yes, the situation of autism was a big contributing factor, my ex-husband did not participate in therapy in clinic or at home he retreated to his office as much as possible. He accepted the diagnosis but he never read any of the books that were recommended to us by specialists. He sees the kids frequently BUT he still does not participate in therapy which happens only at my home. I think for many men they feel helpless and they can't "fix" the child so they feel failure. That's my interpretation. I would recommend anybody in this type of marriage to keep supporting each other as much as possible.

Alicia - posted on 12/14/2009

141

34

13

I'm not sure of the exact percentage but have also heard it is very high. I can understand how that is the case. It adds an incredible amount of stress to a relationship. Adam and I defenitly feel the pressure. Do you feel your sons diagnosis contributed to your divorce? I worry about our marriage sometimes. Most days are fine but there is an underlying tension that I'm concerned will just continue to grow.



Good luck with your new guy. I hope it continues to work out for you.

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms