Children with autism have a variety of special needs that must be taken into account when their parents decide to divorce. In fact, these special needs complicate child custody cases in a variety of ways that can be hard to predict.
Children With Autism Have Tight Connections To Both Parents
When a child with autism is non-verbal, people outside of the family may think that the child doesn't connect or communicate with their parents. Nothing could be further from the truth. For example, parents often know how to watch their child's eyes or to read their emotions and needs in their actions towards the parent.
Therefore, children with autism build strong emotional bonds with their parents that can make divorce hard. In fact, non-verbal children with autism may rely more on their parents than other children because their parents may be the only people with whom they feel comfortable. Unfortunately, divorcing and angry parents may not realize just how much their personal angst affects their child.
Fighting In Front Of Children With Autism Affects Them Too
Parents who fight in front of their children are causing deep wounds that may take a lifetime to heal. Young children simply don't understand why their parents would fight and – in many cases – may blame themselves. Unfortunately, this situation may be even tougher for children with autism, as they may lash out physically or emotionally.
As a result, parents of a child with autism need to handle their divorce in a calm and rational way. The shouting matches that once defined a marriage need to be stopped, and civility reached. Even if the divorcing parents never see eye-to-eye on anything, both undoubtedly love their child with autism and want to ensure that child custody goes as smoothly as possible.
Child Custody Should Be Dedicated To Quality Time
During a child custody hearing, parents may feel compelled to treat their child a bit like a possession. This may be particularly true of children with autism because both parents likely have specific ideas of how they should raise the child and want to ensure that they get maximum time with them. However, quality time, and not the quantity of time, should be most important.
For example, a child with autism may enjoy going to baseball games with their dad during the summer. This quality time brings the two of them together and should be part of a child's custody needs. By contrast, the child may also enjoy shopping with their mother during Christmas, another element that must be taken into account when negotiating a child custody case.
If you and your former spouse are having a hard time navigating the waters of child custody and your child with autism is suffering, talk to a child custody attorney right away. These professionals will work hard to ensure that your son or daughter's needs are met.