Leave No Autistic Mother Behind: Autism and Motherhood – Experiences, Challenges and Positive Strategies (COSP12 Side Event)

A4 and AFDO represented in UN Side Event

13 Jun 2019 -  Autism is a partially genetic, lifelong neurodevelopmental difference, yet there is limited research examining parenting in autistic mothers.

This side-event will discuss, from both an academic and an experiential point of view – including through 2 panellists who would be speaking both as researchers and as autistic mothers – the experiences of autistic mothers in areas related to parenthood: pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period, self-perception of parenting strengths and weaknesses, communication with professionals in relation to one's child, and the social experience of motherhood, including disclosing one’s diagnosis of autism in parenting contexts.

Furthermore, the issue of autistic mothers’ experiences of interacting with child protective services will be discussed, particularly in view of the fact that mothers with intellectual disabilities and mental health difficulties are at an increased risk of being targeted by said services, in comparison with neurotypical mothers. This could have significant consequences for families, especially if social services have little knowledge about the parent’s condition.

Panellists will discuss research being carried out by a consortium led by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen at the University of Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre, as well as the experiences of mothers, disability advocates, and persons dealing daily with state policy and practice related to the subject-matter.

Statistics released at the side-event from research on AUTISTIC mothers include:

  • 60% learn they are Autistic after their child is born
  • 40% experience antenatal depression
  • 60% experience post natal depression
  • 34% said the process of birth not explained well to them
  • 64% had difficulties breastfeeding their 1st child
  • 51% has difficulties breastfeeding their 2nd child
  • 61% of mothers said they need additional support from service providers
  • 14% received the support they required when they asked for it
  • 60% of mothers had anxiety speaking to professionals
  • 44% experienced selective mutism due to anxiety of speaking with professionals
  • 80% of mothers worried that the attitude of professionals would change towards them after disclosure of their autism.

see http://webtv.un.org/search/leave-no-autistic-mother-behind-autism-and-mo...