HealthDay News — Mothers with autism face unique challenges, and the stigma of being autistic can further exacerbate communication issues, according to a study published online Jan. 6 in Molecular Autism.

Alexa L. Pohl, from the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted an anonymous online survey of both autistic (355) and nonautistic (132) mothers, each of whom had at least one autistic child. Questions assessed mothers’ experience during the perinatal period and parenthood.

The researchers found that autistic mothers were more likely to have experienced additional psychiatric conditions, including prepartum or postpartum depression, and reported greater difficulties in areas such as multitasking, coping with domestic responsibilities, and creating social opportunities for their child. Additionally, autistic mothers reported they were more likely to feel misunderstood by professionals, had greater anxiety, had higher rates of selective mutism, and did not know which details were appropriate to share with professionals. Responses also showed that autistic mothers were more likely to find motherhood an isolating experience, to worry about others judging their parenting, and to feel unable to turn to others for support in parenting.

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“Greater understanding and acceptance amongst individuals who interact with autistic mothers is needed, and autistic mothers would benefit from additional and better-tailored support,” the authors write.

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