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Autism. 2002 Dec;6(4):397-409.

Family system and coping behaviors: a comparison between parents of children with autistic spectrum disorders and parents with non-autistic children.

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  • 1Lund University, Sweden.


The study deals with strain on the family system, as well as the level of coping and types of coping behavior of the parents, in families with a child diagnosed as having an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) as compared to families in a control group. Thirty-seven families and 66 parents were involved in each case, and four psychological tests were used. It was found that lower levels of coping were associated with higher levels of strain on the family system, that the level of strain on the family system was greater in the families with a child with an ASD, and that the two groups differed in their pattern of coping behavior. It is argued that limited contact between the child with an ASD and its parents, claimed earlier to be a cause of autism, can be explained in terms of strain on the family system and the resulting pattern of coping.

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