80 percent autism divorce rate debunked

May 22, 2010 at 1:27 AM   |   Comments

BALTIMORE, May 22 (UPI) -- An 80 percent divorce rate among parents of children with autism is often cited, but a U.S. study debunks this high divorce rate, researchers said.

Lead author Brian Freedman, clinical director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger Institute, said his study debunks misunderstanding about high divorce rates among parents of children with autism.

Freedman and his team found that 64 percent of children with an autism spectrum disorder have two married biological or adoptive parents, while 65 percent of children who do not have an autism spectrum disorder had two parents.

"In the work I've done with children with autism, I've come across many couples who quote this 80 percent divorce rate to me," Freedman said in a statement.

"They don't know what the future holds for their child, and feel a sense of hopelessness about the future of their marriage as well -- almost like getting a diagnosis of autism and a diagnosis of divorce at the same time."

The researchers used data from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health, a nationally representative sample of 77,911 children ages 3-17.

Freedman noted past research found couples with a child with autism experience more marital stress than parents of typically developing children or parents of children with Down syndrome.

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