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Best Things”: Parents Describe Their Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Over Time

A Correction to this article was published on 20 July 2021

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Abstract

This study examined parental perceptions of the character traits of children with autism from early childhood to age 11. Parents (n = 153) provided descriptions of the “best things” about their children on the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) at ages 3–4, 7–8, and 10–11 years. Descriptions were coded using the framework of the Values in Action Classification of Strengths, with additional traits added as needed. Parent-endorsed traits included love, kindness, happiness, and humor in children across all ages and traits such as perseverance as children entered school. Higher CBCL scores were associated with a lower likelihood of endorsement for Humanity traits. Results are congruent with a contemporary neurodiversity perspective that emphasizes strengths and resilience.

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Fig. 1

Change history

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KTC, AZ-Z, and PM conceived of the study and its design, coded all of the data, and participated in the design and interpretation of the data. KTC and AZ-Z performed the statistical analyses. PM drafted the manuscript and acted as corresponding author during the review process. PS coordinated the larger study from which the data were drawn. ED, LZ, IMS, WJU, CK, TB, PS, SG, CW, ME, and TV provided oversight for data collection, participated in interpretation of the data, and critically reviewed and revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Katherine T. Cost or Pat Mirenda.

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Cost, K.T., Zaidman-Zait, A., Mirenda, P. et al.Best Things”: Parents Describe Their Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Over Time. J Autism Dev Disord 51, 4560–4574 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-021-04890-4

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Children
  • Character traits
  • Strengths
  • Positive psychology