According to a new research published in the journal Molecular Autism, autistic mothers have a greater likelihood of reporting postnatal depression than non-autistic mothers.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge developed an anonymous, online survey in collaboration with an advisory panel of autistic mothers. The survey was completed by 355 autistic and 132 non-autistic mothers, each of whom had at least one autistic child.
Sixty percent of autistic mothers reported experiencing postnatal depression compared with only 12 per cent of women in the general population. Additionally, autistic mothers reported greater challenges with multitasking, coping with domestic responsibilities and developing social opportunities for their child.
Autistic women also believed that they were misunderstood by health professionals more frequently during pre- and postnatal appointments and reported motherhood being an isolating experience. Despite all these challenges, women said they were able to prioritise their child’s needs and seek opportunities to improve their child’s self-confidence.
Dr Alexa Pohl, the lead author said: "Autistic mothers face unique challenges during the perinatal period and parenthood. This research highlights the need for increased awareness of the experiences of motherhood for autistic women and the need for more tailored support.”