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J Intellect Disabil Res. 2006 Dec;50(Pt 12):970-6.

Coping over time: the parents of children with autism.

Author information

  • 1School of Social Science, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia. dgray@pobox.une.edu.au

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Although coping with autism has been examined in a number of papers, virtually no research exists on how families cope over time. This paper reports the results of a longitudinal study of parents coping with autism over a period of approximately a decade.

METHODS:

The research method for the study was based on ethnographic methods that emphasized in-depth interviews and participant observation. The sample for this study consisted of 28 parents (19 mothers and nine fathers) of children with autism. The instrument for the interviews consisted of questions concerning: the child's medical history and referral experience, the child's present symptomatology, the effects of the child's problems on the parent's well-being, the effects of autism on the family's social life, parental coping strategies, illness conceptualization and the parents' expectations for the future.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS:

Coping strategies changed from the time of the initial study, as fewer parents coped through reliance on service providers, family support, social withdrawal and individualism and relatively more parents coped through their religious faith and other emotion-focused strategies. The results tentatively support previous research on coping that indicates that aging is linked to the use of more emotion-focused coping strategies.

PMID:
17100957
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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