Daily coping and mood of parents of autistic kids

A study in the current issue of Family Psychology examined the effects of various coping strategies on the mood of parents of autistic children. Several behaviours were linked to increased positive mood or a reduction in negative mood:

  1. Taking action to deal with the stressful situation in an organized way
  2. Seeking emotional or practical support from friends, family, or religion
  3. Positive reframing, or attempting to see the situation in a more positive light
  4. Controlling or expressing emotion in a constructive or appropriate way
  5. Working out a compromise between individual needs and the situation
  6. Distraction by engaging in an alternative activity or self-care

Blaming, worrying, and withdrawal were related to an increase in negative mood. In other words, some form of action was important in allowing parents to maintain a positive mood. It seems to me that support-seeking would be the most important of the 6 behaviours listed above; it would be hard to problem-solve, compromise, or manage emotion without practical or emotional support. Although it wasn’t specifically examined in the study, it seems likely that these strategies would also be helpful for the children involved in the difficult situation.

Although more study is required, this study suggests that parent counselling/family therapy and support groups might be particularly valuable for families with an autistic child! Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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