The purpose of this study is to serve as an exploration of family experiences in relation to a child's autism diagnosis. Specifically, it focuses on family adaptation as explained by McCubbin, et al.'s Double ABCX Model (1983). Given that mothers play a crucial role in the family system and are often the primary caregivers for children with disabilities, maternal adaptation is also investigated. This study employs qualitative methods, including in-depth personal and group interviews. Mothers shared their perceptions and experiences surrounding children's autism diagnoses, including initial recognition of atypical behavior and development, the formal diagnosis process, and subsequent transitions within the family system. Maternal reports of personal and family adaptation revealed notable similarities between the theoretical framework of family adaptation and actual family processes. Families of children with autism experienced multiple stressors, and through the mediating influence of coping strategies, they discovered useful resources, redefined their circumstances, and progressed toward bonadaptation. Mothers followed similar patterns of adaptation personally, though some elements of maternal adaptation were predictably different from those of other family members, given the responsibilities of a parental role. Findings of this study yield insights into social and cultural influences and related adaptations among families of children with autism.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Sociology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Williamson, Stephanie A., "Approaching Autism: A Qualitative Review of Maternal and Familial Adaptation Among Families of Children with Autism" (2009). All Theses and Dissertations. 1873.
autism, disability, family adaptation, social support, resources, redefinition, coping