Medwatch-How autism affects the whole family

Medwatch-How autism affects the whole family

(CNN) -For children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, every day can be a challenge. The number of diagnosed cases is on the rise, as the CDC estimates nearly one in 45 U.S. children have some form of autism.

In a first-of-its-kind study, Cleveland Clinic Children's researchers examined how having a child with autism can impact a family's quality of life.

"This puts the focus more on the whole family system, and not just the child's difficulties, but how the child's difficulties are or aren't impacting the family in some really critical ways," Dr. Leslie Markowitz explained.

The study, which looked at quality of life across seven crucial areas, showed that families who eventually had children diagnosed with autism were already showing strains prior to diagnosis. Dr. Markowitz says that a child with autism can have many difficulties, including challenging behaviors, social difficulties and even cognitive delays.

She says making providers aware of these difficulties, and addressing them, can positively impact not only the child, but the family as well.

"You can't be a great parent to the child if you're not able to take care of yourself, and if you're already reporting having all of these difficulties, let's help you kind of access services or supports or other things that you need," Dr. Markowitz said.

Dr. Markowitz says being able to treat an affected child's entire family system, and not just their autism symptoms, can be beneficial in the long run for both the child and the family's quality of life.

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