Original Paper

Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 975-988

First online:

Keeping a Sound Marriage: How Couples with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Maintain Their Marriages

  • Julie L. RamischAffiliated withSchool of Family, Consumer, and Nutrition Sciences, Northern Illinois University Email author 
  • , Esther Onaga Affiliated withMichigan State University
  • , Su Min OhAffiliated withMichigan Department of Community Health

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This study focused on strengths and variables that contribute to marital successes for couples with children with autism spectrum disorders (in this article, referred to as “autism”). Particularly, the purpose of this study was to examine what husbands and wives with children with autism in contrast to couples with children who are typically developing identify as helpful to maintaining their marriages. Concept mapping methodology was used for this research study. Couples with children with autism and couples with children who are typically developing participated in telephone interviews and then grouped and rated the statements generated from their interviews. Groupings were translated into pictorial maps showing relationships and patterns. Couples with children with autism shared common perceptions about factors that help to keep their marriages strong: communication and shared foundational ideas about marriage. Communication was a cluster for all groups of husbands and wives. Only mothers of children with autism identified time for self-care as a distinct cluster.


Autism Communication Concept mapping Couples Marriage