Supporting Families Who Have Loved-Ones with Autism
Steve Adubato goes on-location to the North Ward Center for the “Autism: A Different Way of Thinking” Forum to talk to Kate Fiske, PhD., BCBA-D, Author, "Autism and the Family: Understanding and Supporting Parents and Siblings," and Associate Director at the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University, who explains that helping the whole family a child with autism is equally as important as helping the child.
"Hi, Steve Adubato. Coming to you from Newark, New Jersey. This is the North Ward Center. We just finished a very important discussion on the subject of autism. It's actually technically called Autism: A Different Way of Thinking. One person who's been thinking, talking, writing and helping in the field of autism is Doctor Kate Fiske, author of a fascinating book called Autism and the Family: Understanding and Supporting Parents and Siblings, also the Associate Director of? Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center. At the wonderful Rutgers University? Yes. Doctor, the main theme of your book is? The main theme of my book is focusing on the experiences of parents and siblings who are raising, together, a child with autism. And the... what makes this book different from other texts out there... because there's a lot of books that focus on parents' experiences, is that it's written specifically for professionals who are working with those family members. In my career, I often run into family members who will express that maybe they don't get the level of empathy or compassion from the professionals that they're working with that they would like, and so I've done a lot of work with the professionals I work with, the young professionals, graduate students, to help build that sense of empathy and understanding by having parents come and speak to them about their experiences. But I really wanted to take, that those parent panels, and reach a much broader stage. And so I wrote the book for professionals in any field working with individuals with autism, so teachers, psychologists, medical professionals, to help them better understand, from diagnosis through adulthood, the impact that autism has on parents' stress levels, mental health, and well-being. Describe it. Describe the level of stress we're talking about. It is, by all accounts, research, and from parents themselves, it's a level of stress that's beyond any other parenting group. And it's not a huge surprise given what you're talking about with autism, right? These are children who have difficulty communicating their wants and needs. These are children who don't have difficulty necessarily connecting with their parents, but connect in different ways than other children do. And also there is just, oftentimes, challenging behavior. So a lot of parents will talk about aggressions or disruptions, both of which can contribute to a much higher level of stress for parents. Is it also...? Sorry for interrupting. Yeah. I've often wondered, when I've seen parents with a child who, it appears to me... but again, my doctorate's not in the same field as your..."