How To Handle Divorce With An Autistic Child

Written By Autism Parents

A collection of parents navigating our way around raising children with autism

How To Handle Divorce With An Autistic Child

Divorce is a challenging process for any family, but when navigating divorce with an autistic child, the complexities multiply.

As someone who has navigated the turbulent waters of ending a marriage while prioritizing the well-being of an autistic child, I’ve learned a lot along the way.

Below I’ll detail our journey where understanding, patience, and clear communication are your greatest allies.

Understanding the impact of divorce on an autistic child

For children with autism, routine and predictability are often cornerstones of their security.

The upheaval brought by divorce can disrupt this foundation, leading to increased anxiety and stress.

Recognising this early on, my ex-husband and I committed to maintaining as much stability as possible.

This meant joint decisions about living arrangements, schooling, and therapy schedules to minimise disruptions in our child’s life.


One of the first steps we took was to carefully plan how to explain the divorce to our child.

We sought advice from a child psychologist experienced in autism to ensure our message was clear and reassuring.

We emphasised that while mum and dad would live in different houses, our love for our child remained unchanged.

Using simple, direct language and visual aids helped make this abstract concept more concrete.

Divorce with an autistic child
Divorce with an autistic child can be extremely tough.

Consistency where possible

Maintaining consistency across two households became a crucial strategy. We synchronised routines, rules, and disciplinary approaches to provide a seamless experience for our child.

This required open, ongoing communication between us as parents, something that wasn’t always easy but was necessary for our child’s sense of security.


Co-parenting with an autistic child means being on the same page regarding their care and development.

Regular meetings to discuss our child’s progress, challenges, and therapy goals helped us stay aligned.

We also agreed on attending school meetings and therapy sessions together whenever possible, presenting a united front that reassured our child of our joint support.

Looking after myself

Throughout this process, I learned the importance of self-care.

Handling a divorce and the added responsibilities of supporting an autistic child can be overwhelming.

I had rampant feelings of guilt, added to unavoidable heartbreak from the separation.

Finding time for friends, exercise, and hobbies was not just about personal well-being; it was about maintaining the resilience needed to be the best parent I could be.

Find support where you can

Reaching out for support was invaluable. Joining support groups for parents of autistic children provided me with practical advice and emotional comfort.

I found a new friend who had been through the exact same process. When she explained how she felt it was like she was reading my mind.

It was a reminder that I wasn’t alone in this journey.

Summary – How to handle divorce with an autistic child

Divorce with an autistic child presents a unique set of challenges, and I can’t hide that it was a tough time.

But with a focus on stability, communication, and support, it is possible to navigate these rocky waters while ensuring your child feels loved and secure.

Reflecting on my journey, I believe that while our family’s structure has changed, our commitment to our child’s happiness and development has only grown stronger.

About the author

A collection of parents navigating our way around raising children with autism.

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