Autistic Children and the Effect Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

1) Connor (2002) states that studies report findings that mothers of children with Autism "who showed greater satisfaction" in life were those "who made the clearest redefinitions and who were most willing to follow alternative ways of gaining self-fulfillment." (p. 1)


In the work entitled: 'Autism and the Family" reported is a study conducted in a 12th grade classroom at 'Our Lady of Loures High School through survey instruments completed by the children of mothers with autistic children in the age range of 4 to 36 years of age. This study reports that family outings "can be quite an ordeal for these families." (Hart, nd, p.1) for instance, when these families go on an outing, in families where it is possible two cars travel to the outing in case the child needs to be suddenly removed from the public setting due to tantrums and other disruptive behavior. In the family with an autistic child, it has been found that it is important to keep a regular schedule of meals that are well balanced, which includes sufficient water intake due to requirements of supplements and enzymes for the Autistic child.

When preparing going on an outing, it is necessary that food for the child be specially prepared and packaged to take along and added to this the Autistic child must be kept separate from other children when they are consuming foods that children generally do consume on a family outing, because it is important that Autistic child doesn't see the other children with these foods because once aware that the other children are receiving these 'treats' the Autistic child will have hurt feelings. Hart (nd) states that it is generally agreed upon among families with Autistic children that support services for these children are lacking. Additionally cited in this report are the financial challenges associated with an Autistic child due to the costs associated with home services. Cited as a need among mothers of children with Autism in the study were community provisions for trained workers in spaces and places within the community where the Autistic child can go to play and where the child could safety and appropriately participate in activities.


Parents and children in families with autistic children must necessary develop skills and strategies for coping with Autism in the family. For parents this means strategies and skills associated with care giving and in assuring that, the parents get sufficient sleep as the child with Autism may not sleep at night well. Social support has been identified in a variety of studies as being key to the adjustment of families with an autistic child. In fact the study of McCubbin and Patterson (1981, 1983) proposed what is known as the 'Family Adjustment and Adaptation Model' and findings show that "family adaptation was predicted by the adequacy of social support." (Seltzer, Krauss, and Orsmond, 2001, p. 277) Findings stated include that the "severity of the child's condition was not a significant predictor of family adaptation, but was a predictor of marital adjustment. Unexpectedly, the more severely impaired the child, the 'less adverse' the effect on the marriage." (Seltzer, Krauss, and Orsmond, 2001, p. 277) Stated as risk factors for poor adaptation were "having a pile-up of other life stressors, maternal self-blame, and defining have a child with a handicap as a family catastrophe, suggesting that the parental appraisal of the situation is a greater factor in adjustment than are the specific care giving stresses presented by the child." (Seltzer, Krauss, and Orsmond, 2001, p. 277)


Findings of this study include that there are most assuredly impacts upon the family of the child with Autism, which include but are not limited to social, physical, financial, emotional, intellectual, as well as other effects. The family of the child with Autism is required to make daily adjustments and adaptations in developing skills and strategies that are most effective in coping with the autistic child as that child develops and becomes integrated with the social and educational systems within the community. The better social support is able to meet the needs of these families the better the outcomes will be for these families.


This study has found that the needs of the family of the child with autism include a high level of social support to assist them in coping with the challenges associated with having an autistic family member. Much more in the way of resources and research should be applied in this area of study to determined the 'best practice' provision of social support in assisting families of children with Autism.


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Parents of Autistic Children Twice as Likely to be Mentally Ill (2008) Fox News 5 May 2008. Online available at:,2933,354192,00.html?sPage=fnc/health/mentalhealth

Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Best Practice Guidelines for Screening, Diagnosis and Assessment (2002) California Department of Developmental Services: 2002. Online available at:

Gold N. 1993 Depression and social adjustment in siblings of boys with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 23 147-163

Harris S. 1994 Siblings with Autism. Bethseda, MD: Woodbine House

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McCubbin H., Cauble a., and Patterson J. 1982 Family Stress, Coping, and Social Support. Springfield, IL: Thomas

Miller P. 2001 a study into the experiences of children who have a brother or sister with autistic spectrum disorder. Good Autism Practice 2(2)13-27

Powell T. And Ogle P. 1985 Brothers and Sisters: A Special Part of Exceptional Families. Baltimore: Brookes

Powell T. And Gallagher P. 1993 Brothers and Sisters: A Special Part of Exceptional Families. Second Edition. Baltimore: Brookes

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Connor, Mike (2002)an Autistic Child in the Family. Online available at:

Hart, Melissa (nd) Autism and the…

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