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The wellbeing of family members of children on the Autism Spectrum

By Ruth Clutterbuck


This thesis consists of three papers, a literature review, an empirical paper and\ud a reflective paper. The main focus of the literature review is on ‘understanding of\ud minds’ and the development of this ability in siblings of children with a diagnosis on\ud the autism spectrum (DAS). Evidence from clinical and non-clinical populations\ud suggests that this group may be particularly vulnerable with regard to developing\ud difficulties associated with an understanding of minds. Methodological issues are\ud discussed and the findings are summarised with particular reference to clinical and\ud ethical implications.\ud The empirical paper reports on a study of factors associated with the wellbeing\ud of parents of children with DAS. Measures of parental competence, child difficulties,\ud family cohesion, relationship satisfaction and the impact of the child with DAS on the\ud parental relationship and siblings, were all obtained from parents of school age\ud children with DAS. Parental competence, depression in the other partner, and family\ud and relationship variables were found to be associated with parental wellbeing.\ud Parental stress was predicted by child pro-social behaviour. Differences were found\ud between mothers and fathers on a number of variables. In addition to pro-social\ud behaviour, maternal stress was further predicted by child behaviour problems.\ud Maternal depression was predicted by age, the impact of the child on the parental\ud relationship and the impact of the child on siblings. Results were considered within\ud the context of a number of methodological issues. Implications for clinical\ud interventions for families of children with DAS were discussed.\ud The thesis concludes with reflective material drawn from observations made\ud whilst recruiting participants, collecting data and by contact with research\ud participants. The paper summarizes with an account of the areas of learning arising\ud from these reflections

Topics: RC
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:3247

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