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Examining the effects of raising autistic children on family functioning : using the double ABCX model Smalley, Keri Lane

Abstract

Using the Double ABCX Model as a framework, an investigation of the effects of raising autistic children on family functioning was the focus of this research. The sample population (N=39) was based on voluntary participation from members of support groups and agencies that focused on families with autistic members, such as, the Autism Society of British Columbia (ASBC), the Autism Calgary Association, and Child Development Centers across the province. The sample was composed of primary caregivers of children, 7 years old or younger and who had recently been diagnosed with autism. The caregiver was asked to complete a questionnaire that took approximately 30 minutes. The questionnaire was composed of three measures, Family Inventory of Life Events and Changes (FILE), Coping Health Inventory for Parents (CHIP), and Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales II (FACES II). The use of these scales examined the pile-up, coping, and functioning in families faced with raising a child who was autistic. Initial regression analysis showed no relationship between a family's pile-up and their coping mechanisms. A relationship between coping and family functioning did emerge however. In subsequent regression analyses using the measurement instruments subscales, correlations between certain types of pile-up and different coping mechanisms did appear. Certain subscales of coping continued to be highly correlated with family functioning, as well as, its two subscales adaptation and cohesion. Finally, a relationship also appeared between four of pile-up's subscales and family functioning. This study found that the family's coping mechanisms had the most impact on how they adapted and maintained a sense of cohesion in light of raising their child with autism.

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