Coping Styles in a Group of Diverse Families with a young Child with Autism

Grant Winners

  • Nurit Sheinberg, EdD – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Tommie Boyd, PhD – Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Arlene Brett Gordon, PhD – Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Manny Gonzalez-Abreu, PhD – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Danielle Norman, MS – Center for Psychological Studies
  • Melissa DeVicentes, MS – Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Raymonde Dormezil, PhysD – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development

Deans

  • Roni Leiderman Ph.D. – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Honggang Yang Ph.D. – Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Abstract

Award Winners

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by difficulties with social interaction, impairments in communication, and a restricted repertoire of interests and activities. Current estimates by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention suggest the prevalence of Autism to be one out of 110 children. The current incidence of ASD suggests that families from all socio-economic-status and ethnic backgrounds are affected by the diagnosis. The challenging behaviors of children with ASD have been consistently linked with poor maternal well-being (Smith et al., 2008); however, coping strategies can play a protective role for parents and their children (Smith et al., 2008). The literature examining the role and effectiveness of parental coping with having a child with autism is extensive (Weiss, 2008). However, within this large number of related studies researchers have failed to explore the role cultural diversity plays in terms of the families' use of coping strategies. The goal of this study is to begin an exploration of the coping patterns of a culturally diverse group of families that have a young child diagnosed with ASD. Twenty-five families from diverse cultural backgrounds who have a preschool age child attending the Baudhuin Preschool with a diagnosis of ASD will be invited to participate in the study. In order to answer the research questions, a quantitative and qualitative mixed-method approach will be employed. Identification of key factors expressed by the parents in processing information and interpretation of their experiences will be useful to researchers, educators, and clinicians as they gain a better understanding of the education, training, and therapeutic needs of culturally diverse families.