International Meeting for Autism Research: Stability and Change In Resolution of the Diagnosis Among Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Stability and Change In Resolution of the Diagnosis Among Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Friday, May 13, 2011
Elizabeth Ballroom E-F and Lirenta Foyer Level 2 (Manchester Grand Hyatt)
2:00 PM
N. Yirmiya1, I. Seidman2, S. Milshtein2, D. Oppenheim3, N. Koren-Karie4, S. Dolev4 and S. Levi2, (1)Hebrew University Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel, (2)The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, (3)Haifa University, Haifa`, Israel, (4)Haifa University, Haifa, Israel

Receiving a diagnosis of chronic medical condition or disability of one's child challenge families in coping with this new situation. Pianta and Marvin (1992) described resolution as the coming to terms with a diagnosis of one’s child. It pertains to parents’ reaction to, and coping strategies of dealing with this new situation of having a child with special needs. Using the Reaction to Diagnosis Interview (RDI; Pianta & Marvin, 1992) parents are identified as resolved versus unresolved with their child's diagnosis.


To examine stability/change in parental resolution over a period of 3 years in a sample of parents of children with autism, and whether it is associated with parental characteristics (parental stress and social support) and child’s characteristics (cognitive abilities, daily living skills, and severity of autism symptoms).


Mothers and fathers of 39 children with autism (ages 5 to 20 years) participated in both time points. At time 1 child’s diagnosis and functioning level was confirmed using the ADI-R, the ADOS, the Vinland-II and a standardized intellectual or developmental test. Parents were administered the RDI, the Parenting Stress Index (PSI; Abidin, 1990) and the Social Network Form (SNF; Weinraub & Wolf, 1983). Three years later, at time 2, parents and children with autism were re-evaluated using the same measures (with the SCQ replacing the ADI-R).


Results indicated that (1) about half of the mothers and fathers were classified as resolved in both time 1 and time 2; (2) almost half of the mothers who were classified as unresolved in Time 1 were identified as resolved in Time 2, whereas no significant change emerged for paternal rates of resolution between the two time points; (3) no significant associations were found between stability or change in parental resolution status and changes in parental stress and social support, nor with child’s characteristics.


The stability in resolution status over the years suggested that time does not “heal the wounds” for fathers, whereas some of the mothers did reveal a significant change from an unresolved status in time 1 to a resolved status in time 2. However, rates of unresolved parents were still relatively high compared to other studies of parents of children with disabilities other than autism (Barnett et al., 2006), highlighting the need for intervention programs for parents of individuals with autism.

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