Hastings, Richard P., Kovshoff, Hanna, Brown, Tony, Ward, Nicholas J., Degli Espinosa, Francesca and Remington, Bob
Coping strategies in mothers and fathers of pre-school and school age children with autism
Autism, 9, (4), . (doi:10.1177/1362361305056078).
Despite the theoretical and demonstrated empirical significance of parental coping strategies for the wellbeing of families of children with disabilities, relatively little research has focused explicitly on coping in mothers and fathers of children with autism. In the present study, 89 parents of preschool children and 46 parents of school-age children completed a measure of the strategies they used to cope with the stresses of raising their child with autism.
Factor analysis revealed four reliable coping dimensions: active avoidance coping, problem-focused coping, positive coping, and religious/denial coping. Further data analysis suggested gender differences on the first two of these dimensions but no reliable evidence that parental coping varied with the age of the child with autism. Associations were also found between coping strategies and parental stress and mental health. Practical implications are considered including reducing reliance on avoidance coping and increasing the use of positive coping strategies.
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