The Effects of Autism on the Family

Part of the series Current Issues in Autism pp 289-310

Family Resources and Successful Adaptation to Autistic Children

  • Marie M. BristolAffiliated withThe Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center and Division TEACCH, University of North Carolina

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The negative effects of autistic children on families have been poignantly documented by parents and, more recently, by clinicians and researchers (DeMyer and Goldberg, 1983; Holroyd and McArthur, 1976). Much less is known, however, about the characteristics of autistic children and the resources in their families and communities that enable some families to cope successfully in the face of such chronic stress. Mary Akerley (1975) spoke of “invulnerable” parents of autistic children, those parents who are able to persevere and even to grow in the presence of their autistic children. The purpose of this chapter is to focus on research on family resources and their role in facilitating such successful family adaptation to autistic and autistic-like children.