Special Needs For The Autistic Child
Autistic children require expensive therapy and special education regimes that are not available in local school districts. This results in additional expenses for families. Judges hearing divorce cases involving autistic children need to pay special attention to the needs of the autistic child.
Residential Custody of the Autistic Child
The residential custodial parent of the autistic child will have a significant burden in dealing with all the idiosyncrasies of the autistic child. When determining custody of an autistic child the judge should take into consideration all of the following issues:
1. The acknowledgment and acceptance of the child’s disorder.
2. Each parents ability to follow through on recommended behavioral interventions for the child.
3. The parent’s capacity to understand the nature and circumstances of this disease.
4. The willingness of the parent to place the child’s needs over his or her needs.
5. Each parent’s ability to handle the psychological stress involved in raising an autistic child.
Joint Custody of the Autistic Child
Sometimes with healthy children, joint custody is the best route to deal with parent’s access to their children. However, autistic children require special consideration when it comes to joint custody. Joint custody will not necessarily be in the best interest of the autistic child. Autistic children require predictable and consistent schedules. They do not function well when their schedules are interrupted. Autistic children need regimented behavioral therapy. This can be difficult to maintain when the child is going back and forth between two households.
It is extremely important both parents, the residential custodial parent and the non-residential custodial parent, be educated as to what autism involves and the types of long term therapies autistic children require.
Parenting Schedules and the Autistic Child
In cases involving autistic children parenting schedules should give special consideration to the child’s therapy regime. Autistic children may be in year round extended school year programs related to special education. When school regimes are interrupted for autistic children they can regress.