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Autism Spectrum Disorders and Family Functioning

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  1. Autism Spectrum Disorders and Family Functioning Sabrina Grondhuis Psychology and Social Behavior University of California, Irvine May 31, 2008

  2. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Developmental disorder characterized by 1. Impaired social interactions 2. Deficits in communication 3. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior American Psychiatric Association (2000)

  3. 1 in 150 children is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2007)

  4. The Current Project Investigations into multiple areas: - Psychosocial Wellbeing - Marital Quality - Father Involvement - Social Support

  5. Social Support External Support - e.g. friends Internal Support - e.g. family

  6. Social Support Actual sources of support Perceived sources of support

  7. Terminology Internal External Actual Internal Actual External Actual Perceived Internal Perceived External Perceived

  8. Hypotheses • Parents of children with ASD would utilize more external resources than parents of typically developing children. • Parents of children with ASD will utilize internal resources less than parents of typically developing children.

  9. Method • Subjects from the existing UCI Autism Research Project subject pool • Also recruitment from For OC Kids • Mothers and fathers completed identical questionnaire packets and individually return them to the lab • N = 48

  10. The Parents • 32 Mothers (66.6%) • 16 Fathers (33.3%) • 14 Dyads, including one set of female life partners • Marital Status • 85.5% Married • 2% Single, Never Married • 8.5% Divorced • 4% Widowed

  11. The Parents cont. • Education Levels: • 4% High School • 12% Some College • 44% Four Year College • 39.5% Advanced Degree • Ethnicity: • 77% Caucasian • 2% African American • 10.5% Hispanic • 10.5% Asian/Pacific Islander

  12. The Children ASD • 25 children • Ages 6-17, M=11.5, SD=3.57 • Typical Children • 9 children • Ages 9-14, M=11.2, SD=1.86

  13. Measures Actual Social Support • Family Support Scale, 19 items (Dunst et al., 1988) “In the last 3 to 6 months, how helpful were each of the following in raising your child?” (1=not helpful at all to 5=extremely helpful) e.g. Spouse, coworkers, special education teachers, doctors.

  14. Measures Continued Perceived Social Support • Social Support Behaviors Scale, 90 items (Vaux, et al, 1987) “How likely is it that somebody would” (1=no one would do this to 5=most would certainly do this) e.g. Would comfort me if I was upset Would loan me a sum of money

  15. Findings Compared to parents of typically developing children, parents of children with ASD reported lower means of: Internal External Actual Internal p < .056 Actual Perceived Internal p < .003 Perceived External p < .000 Perceived

  16. More Findings Families with a child with ASD reported more actual external support (p = .019) BUT when evaluating for sources applicable to all respondents, there was no significant difference (p = .687)

  17. Still More Findings Findings were replicated when evaluating data based on: - Gender - Gender and ASD - One member per family unit

  18. Future Research • Research is ongoing, so a larger sample for greater generalizability and to increase power to detect small and moderate differences • Comparison to parents of children with other developmental disabilities

  19. Thank you! Dr. Wendy Goldberg Dr. Valerie Jenness Agnes Ly Maryam Abdullah Kara Thorsen Christine Garrison Social Ecology Honors Seminar

  20. Contact InformationSabrina Grondhuissgrondhu@uci.edu