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An exploration of an Internet discussion forum for Autism Spectrum Disorders in relation to Self-Help/Mutual Aid groups and helping processes

By Jennifer Jackson


The Literature review examines parenting a child with a developmental disorder focusing on what factors may contribute to parental stress and coping strategies employed to manage it. The review examines how three models of coping and adjustment predominately used in this field (Lazuras and Folkman’s (1984) Process Model of Coping, McCubbin and Patterson’s (1983) Double ABC-X model of Adjustment and Adaptation and Antonovsky’s (1987) model of Sense of Coherence) relate to the findings on how these parents cope. Families found numerous styles of coping and varying resources helpful as long as it was responsive to a particular event or crisis. Ultimately, the paper highlights the need for more services that are tailored to individuals and families needs across the whole life-span and further research into how clinicians can assist parents to develop more coping strategies and resources. \ud The research paper explores an Internet discussion Forum for Autism Spectrum Disorders. 135 message threads were downloaded from an online group and analysed using Template Analysis. The first analysis aimed to investigate how the forum was being utilised and the second analysis explored whether helping processes as identified by Finn (1999) were present. Analysis one showed that the site was used to share personal stores, evoke a sense of community, exchange information as well as provides advice on how to manage professional input. Analysis two showed that helping processes were present and that providing support, catharsis, universality and providing information were key processes within the group. The group appeared to provide a service for carers and may be of benefit to others living with a disorder and could be an adjunct to professional services. \ud The critical appraisal explores some of the methodological considerations that arose during the study of the online forum. [Taken from the thesis overview

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:

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