How family members' perceptions of influences and causes of autism may predict assessment of their family quality of life

  • Bayat M
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Abstract

A survey of parents and caregivers of a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was conducted to examine the relationship between the way they perceived contributions and causation of autism and the way they evaluated their family quality of life. Having a child with autism places a number of burdens on the shoulders of the parents and other family members. Therefore the quality of life of these families might be altered as a result. Since family members' perceptions of disability influence the process of adaptation and adjustment of the family, this study examined how perceptions might ultimately relate to the family quality of life. In addition, the relationship between demographic variables such as income, child's age, parental education, depression, and satisfaction with services was also examined. Primary caregivers of a child with ASD from Illinois (N = 175) were surveyed concerning their perceptions of autism, their mental health, demographic factors, and their family quality of life. Using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM), the relationship between perceptions, demographic factors and quality of life was examined. Results suggest a significant relationship between perceptions of positive contributions of autism to the family and family quality of life. In addition, a significant relationship was found between each variable: child's age, income, and depression and the variable: family quality of life. No significant relationship was found between the way families perceived causes of autism and family quality of life. In addition, a qualitative analysis was conducted to examine family members' perceptions more closely. The results suggest that in general family members define the effects of autism on their personal life as positive as compared to the effects on the family as a unit. Positive contributions of autism were articulated to be family closeness, learned lessons in compassion, change of outlook of life, patience, and personal empowerment. Negative effects of autism were identified to be alteration of the family's functions, strained relationships and personal goals, and parental depression. Generally, parents had positive working models of their child with autism, and described their child in very affectionate terms.

Author-supplied keywords

  • 0452:Social work
  • 0529:Special education
  • 0620:Developmental psychology
  • 0628:Families & family life
  • 0628:Personal relationships
  • 0628:Sociology
  • Autism
  • Coping
  • Developmental psychology
  • Disability
  • Education
  • Families & family life
  • Family
  • Personal relationships
  • Psychology
  • Quality of life
  • Social sciences
  • Social work
  • Sociology
  • Special education

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Authors

  • Mojdeh Bayat

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