Myth Debunked: New Study Says Autism Doesn’t Drive Parents to Divorce

A new study shows that parents with autistic children are no more likely to split up than other couples, contrary to popular belief.

If you’ve had a child diagnosed with autism, there’s a lot to be concerned with. How will your child cope with the pressures of school and daily life? Will he ever be able to live independently?

But one of the most frightening aspects of dealing with your child’s autism is the prospect of dealing with it alone: it’s often been repeated that 80 percent of couples with an autistic child end up getting divorced.

According to a new study, though, that simply isn’t true. Even though there’s much evidence that families dealing with autism are under extra stress, “it’s a logical leap to assume that these families would have a high rate of divorce as well,” Brian Freedman, clinical director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger Institute, told NPR.

Freedman and his team reviewed data about over 78,000 children from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health, which studied children both with and without autism. And according to the results, families with an autistic child were no more likely to end in divorce than families without.

“It was really nice to see the level of resiliency that these families have,” said Freedman.

So if you or someone you know is coping with a child’s diagnosis of autism, take heart: there’s no reason to predict the end of a marriage, too.

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