Each April is Awareness month for two big issues: Autism and Child Abuse. As a provider who has encountered both of these big issues in practice, I have seen how life-impacting they are for both clients and for their families. Here’s a few things you might not have known about them, and some useful information in case you want to take action!
Others who have come before me have done a great job of spreading awareness about child abuse, and the statistics show it – in just four years, the number of reports to Child Protective Services in Texas increased by upwards of 45,000. (If numbers are your thing, you can visit the website of The National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect for more statistics). This may seem alarming, but it’s actually a good thing! It means that more people than ever are choosing to speak out when they see a child being mistreated.
However, there is one particular type of child abuse that often goes unreported: emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is a type of abuse that includes name-calling, insulting, withholding love/guidance/support, and sometimes threats of violence. The long-term effects on children who are emotionally abused range from depression and anxiety, to trust issues in relationships, to addiction and eating disorders.
Parents who emotionally abuse their children often don’t think of it as “abuse” because they are not being physically violent with their children. They were often spoken to this way themselves when they were children, and may be repeating patterns from their own childhoods. Maybe their parents gave them the silent treatment in response to a bad grade or forgetting a chore, or casually called them ugly or stupid in a joking manner, or told them in anger that they were never wanted or planned. Often these parents are carrying deep emotional wounds themselves that have never been addressed.
If you are a parent and any of the above scenarios looked familiar to you, or if they reminded you of anyone else, know that there are resources available. There are low-cost or free parenting classes, which can help parents learn new coping skills for the stresses of raising children, and improve relationships with their children. Counseling centers such as SA Behavioral and Counseling accept many types of Medicaid and other insurances. Therapy can help you process old hurts and discover new ways of thinking and being.
Child abuse is a painful topic and to say that abusers and their victims face many challenges is an understatement. With therapy and education, these challenges can be dealt with. The same is true of autism, which can be overwhelming for the individual and for their family. With the right resources, people can learn to live with autism and to cope with its many challenges.
We have come a long way since Autism awareness month began in 1970. Services for autism have become more available, and are mainly focused on early diagnosis and intervention for children. This is wonderful! But what about adults with autism? I have often been asked what services are available for them. Currently in San Antonio there are several options, such as The Arc, D&S Community Services, the Autism Treatment Center, and One for Autism Academy.
If you or someone you know can benefit from parenting classes, clink here for a link to free or low-cost classes in San Antonio.
Please take the steps you need in order to be well for yourself and for your children. Thanks for reading, and take care!
About the Author: Marissa Myers, LPC
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