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Parenting Children with Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorders present a myriad of challenges within the familial structure. There are often communication issues between parent and child, and strain on the parenting couple. Raising an child with Autism is a constant test of strength and resourcefulness. Parents who have dreamt of cuddling, playing with and teaching their child may feel rejected as their child with Autism displays a much different attachment style than was expected. Parents may be unable to relate to a child’s repetitive, demanding and at times, aggressive behaviour.

There are often barriers to finding services for families, ranging from a lack of competent caregiving assistance, to an inability to find support for parents. It has been estimated that the divorce rate is 80% in families with children who have autism (Bolman 2006). Despite experiencing a strained relationship, many couples do not seek help for themselves. Parents often remain child-focused, and as a result, may experience increased parenting stress and burnout, which can lead to marital breakdown. If you are a single parent with an autistic child, the stress can become unbearable.

It is important to know that not only is your stress normal, but quite common in families with children who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. You should not feel guilty or concerned about receiving support. At Dalton Associates, we offer child and youth counselling to assist your child with communication and social skills. We also offer couple and family counselling to improve and strengthen your family ties.

For families who are concerned about their child’s development, or have concerns regarding their child’s social skills, communication, or behavioural issues, Dalton Associates offers a comprehensive psychological assessment to determine whether your child meets criteria for an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The assessment report provides practical and individualized recommendations on how to address your child’s specific needs. We understand that travel and scheduling assessment appointments can be challenging for many families, so we offer flexible appointment times and the option of completing the assessment within your home or at one of our clinics.

Dalton Associates also provides Intensive Behaviour Intervention (IBI) and Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) services to children with Autism. IBI and ABA are both empirically supported treatments for children with ASD (Lovaas 1987; Smith 1999; Leaf et al. 2011) and focus on systematically teaching children new skills across a variety of domains, including communication, social, play, adaptive, and academic skills. IBI and ABA also address behavioural concerns by finding out why a behaviour is occurring, and providing support to caregivers to prevent and respond to behavioural issues in a consistent way.

Contact us at 1.888.245.5516 to connect with the support you need.


American Psychological Association (2012). Autism. Retrieved from
Bolman, W. (2006). The Autistic Family Life Cycle: Family Stress and Divorce. Retrieved from
Leaf, R. B., Taubman, M. T., McEachin, J. J., Leaf, J. B., & Tsuji, K. H. (2011). A program description of a community-based intensive behavioral intervention program for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Education and Treatment of Children, 34, 259-285.
Lovaas, O. I. (1987). Behavioral treatment and normal educational and intellectual functioning in young autistic children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 3-9.
Sicile-Kira, Chantal (2010). Autism – It’s a Family Thing. Retrieved from
Smith, T. (1999). Outcome of early intervention for children with autism. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 6, 33-49.


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