, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 469-486

Mothers of children with autism or communication disorders: Successful adaptation and the double ABCX model

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This study demonstrates the effectiveness of a modified Double ABCX or FAAR model in predicting successful adaptation—good marital adjustment, few maternal depressive symptoms, and an in-home rating of family functioning—in 45 families of autistic and communication-impaired children. The model consisted of severity of the handicap and other family stresses, family resources of cohesion and social support, family definition of the handicap, and adequacy of coping patterns. Canonical correlation and subsequent multiple regression procedures demonstrated that family adaptation was positively predicted by adequacy of social support and active coping patterns. Poorer adaptation was predicted by other family stresses, unwarranted maternal self-blame for the handicap, and maternal definition of the handicap as a family catastrophe. Findings for cohesion were mixed. Resources and beliefs were more predictive of adaptation than severity of the child's handicap.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Family Systems and Health Pre-Conference Workshop, National Council on Family Relations, San Francisco, California, October 1984, The author is indebted to Mark Appelbaum for statistical consultation, to Mary Helms for data management services, to Margaret Schubert for assistance in data collection, and to the TEACCH families who made this study possible. Special thanks are also extended to Hamilton McCubbin and Rudolf Moos for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. The preparation of this paper was supported in part by the Special Education Program of the Department of Education, Contract Number 300-77-0309. However, the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and no official endorsement of the U.S. Department of Education should be inferred.