Parental Stress and autism: Are there useful coping strategies?

by Mancil, G.R., Boyd, B.A., & Bedesem, P.

According to previous researchers, parents of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) consistently report more stress than parents of typically developing children to children with other developmental disorders such as Down Syndrome.  This has peaked interest in the field in a related area, that being, identifying the coping strategies parents use to deal with the stressors of rearing a child on the autism spectrum. The available literature on coping strategies primarily has focused on interviewing parents to find out what strategies they currently use and if these are effective, which has resulted in mixed findings. A selected synthesis of the stress literature pertaining to coping strategies is provided to highlight the high levels of reported stress already experienced by families of children with ASD and what strategies the parents report aid then in coping with the stress. The literature review is presented for two purposes: (a) highlight relevant findings and methodological issues with current research, and (b) discuss implications for researchers and practitioners working with children with ASD and their families who exhibit increased levels of stress.

Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities