Autism Takes Toll on Parents' Marriage

MADISON, Wis., Aug. 7 (UPI) — The parents of grown children with autism are more likely to divorce than parents of typically developing children, U.S. researchers found.

The study, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, found that contrary to conventional wisdom, young parents of children with autism do not have a greater risk of divorce, but once the children grow up, divorce is more likely.

Lead author Sigan Hartley, a University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant professor, said the study compared 391 couples — the parents of teen and adult children with autism — to a sample drawn from another large longitudinal study.

“There seems to be a prolonged vulnerability for divorce in parents of children with autism,” Hartley said in a statement. “Typically, if couples can survive the early child-rearing years, parenting demands decrease and there is often less strain on the marriage. However, parents of children with autism often continue to live with and experience high parenting demands into their child’s adulthood, and thus marital strain may remain high in these later years.”

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