Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 469-486

First online:

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

  • Marie M. BristolAffiliated withDivision TEACCH, Department of Psychiatry, CB 7180 Medical School Wing E, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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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.