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How will your divorce affect your child with ASD?

In any marriage, couples have to deal with many stressors, such as financial concerns, lack of quality time with each other, problems caused by work and hectic schedules. Over time, one or more of these issues may pull the marriage apart. If your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder, the decision to divorce can be especially painful and difficult.

The important matter of custody

Child custody is among the first considerations you will have if divorce is in the offing. Your individual work schedules and other day-to-day responsibilities will help you decide how time with your child should be divided. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, however, the court, possibly through a mediator, will make the decision about a custody schedule.

The biggest worry

It is hard enough to help a child without special needs become used to living with separate parents in separate households, but helping a child with ASD can be extremely challenging. He or she may find it almost impossible to adapt to a change in routine of this magnitude. The best approach is to let your child know as much as possible about the custody schedule. You might put up a special calendar at each home that shows this schedule, and if you talk about it in advance, you can cut down on the element of surprise and help keep your child from becoming upset when it is time to make the transfer between houses. In the same vein, keeping the daily routine as similar as possible at both homes is sure to be helpful to your child.

Seeing the situation differently

If you and your spouse have different views about handling your child-rearing responsibilities as single parents, this is not unusual. It may be difficult to get along and come to an agreement about these matters. For your child's sake, though, you need a parenting plan for how you will provide stability and support after the split. In addition to creating common schedules between homes, discuss how you would handle relocation, consistent rules between households, ways your child can keep in touch with both parents and other subjects of this nature. Always focus on your child's needs and concerns when discussing your parenting plan.

Seeking help

Depending on both their cognitive level and their age, counseling is available for children with ASD, and this may help if your child is struggling to come to terms with your divorce. Close friends and caring family members can provide valuable support for you or your spouse. You can also reach out for guidance and legal advice to an attorney experienced with divorce matters and the difficulties faced in raising a child with special needs.