Cover Image - Helping Autism Parents Through Preventive Medicine

Helping Autism Parents Through Preventive Medicine

By Shaudae McMillan

Parental Support After the Autism Diagnosis

When a parent hears the words “your child has autism“, parents describe the feeling like a punch in the gut and back at the same time. The doctor proceeds to tell the parent that there is early intervention such as ABA, physical therapy, speech therapy, and the list goes on and on. In the back of the parent’s mind, all they hear is cha-Ching. What most doctors don’t talk about is the long waiting list for services, all the paperwork that requires attention and the constant battle for people to call their child by their name and not their diagnosis. They also fail to mention the rips that it may cause in marriages and the drowning feeling that many parents feel due to the overwhelming stress. Everything becomes about the well-being of the child as the parent’s needs drift into the background of everyone’s mind.

Impacts on the Family Unit

Studies show that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, and couples affected in the home by autism are 55 percent more likely to have stress and parental aggravation. According to the American College of Preventive Medicine, “preventive medicine is practiced by all physicians to keep their patients healthy. It is also a unique medical specialty recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Preventive medicine focuses on the health of people, communities, and defined populations. Its goal is to protect, promote, and maintain health and well-being and to prevent disease, disability, and death”. Studies show and parents report that chronic stress wears down the body, particularly the cardiovascular, immune, and gastrointestinal systems. Parents often deal with frequent tantrums, disrupted eating patterns, poor sleeping habits, and the stretch of every dollar that is in their bank account. These parents are not widely protected or promoted on a large scale.

Parental Mental Health

Meanwhile, parental mental health is not a priority and may cause some significant issues. Many parents in this population have a disability and a diagnosis of their own. Most resources seem like a laundry list of things parents can do to help their child due to the amount of paperwork, qualifiers, and waiting periods. The Public health system seems to think that, “Superman never had a break, so why should these parents; the world requires parents to save the day without so much as a coffee break.”

How Preventative Medicine Can Help

Parents need preventive medicine for the decay of internal and external relationships, depression, anxiety, and the debilitating price tag for special needs services. Parents should have access to affordable personal and couple therapy, a network of open support groups, affordable childcare, and better insurance coverage. Why wait until the hurricane comes to try to build a better foundation for the house? Parents need the opportunity to have classes that teach coping skills, stress management, best practices, communication training, and affordable ways to wear different hats besides being a parent. When parents get the diagnosis, doctors should make sure they have the tools to reach a level of physical and mental health to endure and take care of their children, themselves, and persons of value. On average, parents spend $60,000 a year on services, and none of those services directly impact the parent personally. While some insurance companies grant respite care the hours those hours have limitations and the responsibility falls on the parent to find someone willing to accept between $9.00 – 15.00 dollars an hour to care for their loved one (the more severe the disability, the higher the hourly rate). While everyone loves a good superhero movie, these parents need time to hang up their capes and be. Even superman maintained his individuality as Clark Kent.

Finding Affordable Parental Support

Let’s be honest personal therapy, respite and date nights all cost money and as stated above parents are already spending a lot. So, here is a list of free resources that Selah Respite Care has put together:

  1. Call around to your local churches and inquire about free counseling and respite care days.
  2. Call around to local universities about counseling (most universities have LPC interns that counsel for free)
  3. Research local Non – Profits that offer free support groups and group counseling
  4. Start your support group with other parents,
  5. Inquire with your HR personnel about free counseling that possibly is apart of your employment benefits
  6. If you receive respite through your insurance and having a hard time finding a caregiver save up money to supplement for a more appealing wage
  7. Schedule childcare way in advance. People are more likely to say yes when things are planned properly.
  8. Create a kid hosting with other families. For example, I have four families that save money on respite by allowing one parent(s) to go out on a scheduled day while the other three parent (s) watch their child or children while they are out. Not only does it allow at least one night of respite for each family, but it also creates a community because the other three parent(s) are watching the children all together.
  9. For married couples read books about divorce as preventive medicine. You can take advice from these books and implement the best practices before getting to a breaking point. My go-to book will always and forever be Take Back Your Marriage By William J. Doherty, PdD.
  10. For the gift-giving holidays, ask for a gift certificate from Selah Respite Care!



McCallie, Shannon, M.D. – GalenMedical.

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Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Shaudae McMillan has been a resident of Dallas, Texas since May of 2014. After completing her Bachelors’s Degree in Psychology from her beloved HBCU The Central State University. After working in various fields, Shaudae continued her educational career at Dallas Baptist University receiving her Masters in Counseling. While attending graduate school, Shaudae started her career in autism serving as an ABA therapist and a specialty autism teacher in the local school district. During this time, Shaudae fell in love with the Autism Community and have developed a deep love for parents. In February of 2017, Shaudae bought and established Selah Respite Care LLC, which is a specialized nanny service for children and adults ages two months to 35. Selah Respite Care employes qualified but loving respite care providers at affordable rates. They pride themselves on indulging love ones in functional play, life skill management, effective behavior management, and a love that reaches far and wide. Shaudae left her job in February of 2018 and went on to be a full-time CEO. Shaudae also serves as a teacher and parent trainer, curriculum writer for the Waterfall Academy in Richardson, Tx and an autism trainer for the local police department. A mom of a beautiful little girl, Shaudae believes that while all parents are gifts from God, parents with children with extra challenges are not only a gift but are indeed the superheroes of the world; taking their cape wherever they go. ” There is no other job that anyone or I could create that would fulfill me more than being the CEO of this company. I am honored to serve and humbled by my clients every single day”. Shaudae plans to use her degree in counseling by creating a private practice dedicated to parents, siblings, and persons that are affected by special needs.