Family Functioning and Coping Behaviors in Parents of Children Wi

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Masters Theses and Doctoral Dissertations Master's Theses, and Doctoral Dissertations, and Graduate Capstone Projects

1-1-2006

Family Functioning and Coping Behaviors in Parents of Children with Autism Matthew J. Altiere

Follow this and additional works at: http://commons.emich.edu/theses Recommended Citation Altiere, Matthew J., "Family Functioning and Coping Behaviors in Parents of Children with Autism" (2006). Masters Theses and Doctoral Dissertations. Paper 54.

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FAMILY FUNCTIONING AND COPING BEHAVIORS IN PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH AUTISM by Matthew J. Altiere

Thesis Submitted to the Department of Psychology Eastern Michigan University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of MASTER OF SCIENCE in Clinical Psychology

Thesis Committee: Dr. Silvia von Kluge (chair) Dr. Nina A. Nabors Dr. Carol Freedman-Doan

August 18, 2006 Ypsilanti, Michigan

ii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank all of the people who helped develop, organize, edit, and produce this thesis research, including my committee members, Silvia von Kluge, Nina Nabors, Carol Freedman-Doan; the Human Subjects Review Committee Chair, Karen Saules; and my friends and colleagues who edited, proofed, or simply provided support during the project.

iii Abstract We looked at how a child with autism affects the dynamics and coping behaviors of a family. A majority of studies on families with a child with autism collect information from the mother but not the father. Therefore, this study examined the involvement of both parents from a family systems theory approach, which compares relationships among different familial variables, to determine the contributions of each individual to the developmental outcomes of the family unit. It was hypothesized that moderate levels of cohesion and adaptability would be associated with higher levels of positive coping mechanisms. Further, the more coping strategies implemented by a family would predict greater satisfaction with their family functioning. It was also expected that mothers would rate their families as more cohesive and adaptable, and more likely to implement positive coping strategies, and would perceive more social support than fathers. Results suggest that enmeshed families generally implement more positive coping strategies than other cohesion styles. Further, mothers perceive more social support from their family and friends than fathers do. It appears that families of children with autism have family styles similar to a normed group of families, except there were more chaotic and less rigid families in this sample. Future research ideas and possible implications of these findings are discussed.

iv Table of Contents Page Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ii Abstract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii Appendices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vi List of Tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 1 Cohesion and Adaptability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. … 3 Family Stress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ....
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