EXPLORATORY STUDY: STRESS, COPING AND SUPPORT AMONG PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS

Meri NOLCHEVA, Vladimir E TRAJKOVSKI

Abstract


Introduction:   Each year more families are confronted with unique challenges related to raising a child with ASD. Parenting stress is a significant aspect of fulfilling the role as a parent, and having a child with ASD greatly influences the experienced stress. The literature review indicates that parenting stress is inversely proportional to family support and coping mechanisms.

Aim: Appraising the stress level among parents of children with ASD, the coping mechanisms and the level of family support, in comparison with parents of children diagnosed with ID.

Method: A group of parents of children with ASD (N=35) and a second group of children with ID (N=35) completed four question­nnaires: PSI-SF, Brief COPE, FSS and demographic questionnaire. The data was analyzed using t-test for comparison, Chi-square test for comparing frequency distributions and Pearson coefficient for correlation, with p<0.05 level of significance.

Results: Parenting stress did not differ between the two groups. The coping mec­hanisms used by the parents of children with ASD showed that increased usage of distrac­tion (r=0.469) and disengagement (r=0.567) increased the level of parenting stress. Family support (r=-0.415) is a key buffer and coping mechanism for managing the stress in parents of children with ASD.

Conclusion: There are no differences in the level of stress, coping mechanisms and the level of support comparing parents of children with ASD and ID. 


Keywords


autism spectrum disorder; intellectual disability; parenting stress; coping mechanisms; family support

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/JSER-2015-0013

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